The Belgrave Trust, Carbon Offsets For The Luxury Set
The Belgrave Trust has a unique proposal, make living carbon neutral easier and more appealing to the luxury consumer. The Belgrave Trust website helps members learn how to offset their entire lifestyle and easily purchase offsets. Many websites can help you offset the cost of a flight or road trip but the Belgrave Trust appeals to the lifestyle of the high-end consumer, showing offsets for things like private jet travel and wine collecting, allowing members to create a specific profile tailored to their lifestyle. For example, the site can help calculate offsets for recreational flying or yachting and can be set up to manage your total carbon usage. The world's most affluent people are responsible for a greater share of the world's carbon emissions. The Belgrave Trust challenges its members to assume a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The relatively new organization has made a big push toward the affluent crowd but in a quiet way. They recently partnered with Cirrus Aviation and Aston Martin on an event. The message is clear, that green is luxe and carbon offsets are as much a part of the affluent lifestyle as a luxury automobile or a designer purse. The site is by invitation only but we've got a link for Luxist readers here. Read on for more details about how The Belgrave Trust works.
I asked The Belgrave Trust about average costs and, as you might expect, the monthly cost depends heavily on a member's lifestyle and their carbon footprint. On the low end their "student" profile, which would correspond to a student at a prep school or elite college in the Northeast, might be just $18 a month while the "entrepreneur," which corresponds to a successful CEO who owns two homes and uses a private jet a few hours a month, starts at $175 a month. They report that it is unusual to see a footprint over $200 a month unless you are constantly on private jets or a huge yacht. Most current members have a subscription in the $60-90 per month range that enables them to to live completely carbon neutral.
The Belgrave Trust also allows you to give a subscription as a gift for someone else for one month, three months, six months, a year, or a lifetime gift where an entire life is offset. In each case the cost is just the number of months times the offset price, but each gift comes with a special premium (for example this month a the six month gift recipient receives a crystal decanter) as a thank you. The lifetime option, which typically costs $30-40,000 per person, comes with a personal consultation, and a legally set up and escrowed trust (the "Belgrave Trust") in the recipients name, that ensures their life will be offset in perpetuity, as long as they live. It's an interesting gift idea for "the person that has everything."
The Belgrave Trust manages a portfolio of offsets, each representing a specific and verifiable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and removes these offsets from circulation for their members. Many carbon credit options work just by investing in a single offset but the Belgrave Trust takes a "mutual fund" approach that makes sure the offsets are diversified. The idea behind this is that the resources are channeled into areas that are making a difference to help seek out the most efficient and innovative ways of solving the problem.
The exchange-traded offset securities include several different types of carbon offsets:
- Exchange Traded EU ETS Offsets which are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Green Exchange and the European Climate Exchange are created under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and regulated and certified under the auspices of UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the European Union member states.
- Exchange Traded U.S. Voluntary Offsets which are traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange and developed under the same general set of principles outlined by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and used in Kyoto-compliant trading. The U.S. government has yet to mandate carbon reduction, so these offsets are purchased voluntarily, but are overseen by FINRA - the same organization that regulates stock and bond trading in the US, including the NASDAQ, NYSE, and brokerage firms nationwide.
- Emerging Market Offsets are traded in emerging market countries and are certified emission reductions (CERs) based on the core principles outlined by the UN. Some of these offsets are fully CDM certified and they often originate in smaller-scale projects that previously comprised an over-the-counter market.
- Directly Sourced Offsets are acquired by working directly with providers like wind farms, solar initiatives, source reduction, sequestration, and agricultural projects. All these offsets are certified by third parties, and in some cases (like renewable energy credits, RECs) are traded on exchanges as well.
- Innovation Funding which involves early stage projects which are uncertified but of great potential value.