Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car today launched a new carbon offset program designed to give customers options for investing in environmentally friendly projects to make up for the pollution coming from their rental cars.
All three companies are owned by the Taylor family of St. Louis, and taken together, the fleet is the largest in the world, at 1.1 million vehicles.
The cost is $1.25 per rental, and the money goes to TerraPass, which invests in projects like building new wind turbines, planting trees or other work that removes carbon from the atmosphere. The figure represents the cost of offsetting the average vehicle rental, which is a 71-mile trip in a vehicle that gets 28 mpg.
The car companies will match all donations up to $1 million.
Carbon offsets have been both celebrated and criticized. On the one hand, when properly administered, these purchase can result in new environmentally-friendly activity that wouldn't otherwise take place. But there is very little regulation of the market, leading to some dubious claims that do more to assuage guilt than to better the environment. Still, this program, through an established provider of carbon offsets, offers individuals a way to do something positive while vacationing or traveling for work.
If all renters participate, and the family kicks in $1 million, the companies would offset half of the carbon they produce.
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