Discover Cayuga Lake Joins Carbon Offsetting Campaign

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Tompkins Weekly        12-8-21

By Marisa Lansing

This fall, Discover Cayuga Lake, well known for its community eco-cruises, Floating Classroom and even DJ cruises, joined the local business carbon offsetting campaign to battle climate change, Finger Lakes Enterprises for Climate Action (FLECA).

With the help of cruise-goers, they offset three years of their boat’s diesel emissions — equal to 80 tons of CO2 — with their $2,000 donation.

FLECA is a business- and organization-based coalition contributing directly to Sustainable Tompkins’ Finger Lakes Climate Fund grant program. Since 2010, carbon offset donations have funded grants for emission-reduction projects in lower-income families’ homes, right here in the Finger Lakes.

Megan Cosgrove with her family’s heat pump, recently bought with a $4,378 Finger Lakes Climate Fund grant. Photo provided.

As a result, Climate Fund awardees can lead the way in the transition off of fossil fuels and benefit from lower energy bills and more comfortable homes. Additionally, our citizen-funded Climate Fund pairs with a variety of state incentives and grants to make these efficiency upgrades possible. By providing the gap financing to move these projects forward, the Climate Fund supports local green job development in the process, too.

To date, we have awarded 73 families, nonprofits and small businesses nearly $165,000 in grants, keeping almost 7,000 tons of CO2 out of our air — thanks to the generous support of our local carbon offsetters!

Since FLECA’s launch in 2020, businesses and organizations have been leading this movement to green their operations, become more climate ready and help achieve economic equity in our community.

So, while FLECA members like Discover Cayuga Lake, Halco, Odyssey Bookstore, Firelight Camps and the Ithaca Marriott take responsibility for their carbon emissions (through our carbon calculator), they’re helping low-income folks afford to reduce their energy consumption with air-source heat pumps, air sealing and insulation. This means increased home comfort, lower energy bills, healthier indoor environments and greater resilience to climate change for neighbors in need. Goodbye, fossil fuels!

Based on our Tiers of Giving, we are offering FLECA members several avenues of marketing promotion and value through creative social media collaborations, website posts, newspaper articles, videos and more. In addition, we help business members make carbon offsetting and our tools accessible to their clients, such as travel offsetting options in their booking service or helping them offset the footprint of their purchases.

Because business travel has been down since the pandemic began, FLECA members have also become more innovative — offsetting emissions from the heating and cooling of their buildings, tractor diesel use, shipments and more. They’ve found that consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever and want to support businesses that are tangibly making a positive impact.

Each of our FLECA member contributions is fueling our ambitious goal of $12,500, equivalent to six Climate Fund grants, each preventing up to 100 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. We are almost 65% to our goal with 12 business leaders and over $8,000!

You also don’t have to be a business to join in this local climate action. Friends and coworkers are heading to the Carbon Races! The races are an opportunity for groups to go head to head and compete to offset the most amount of carbon from all areas of their life.

Nothing like a bit of competition to spice things up! People offset emissions from their holiday travel, latest summer vacation and road trips to visit family. They share their photos and stories to not only celebrate their fun trips but to also motivate their team to take that extra step of offsetting that helps neighbors in need. We are all doing our part to achieve climate justice right here in our Finger Lakes community!

Before I learned about the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and local carbon offsets, I was skeptical about carbon offsets. I often heard about scams, lack of transparency and big businesses just paying to produce the same amount of pollution — carrying on with business as usual.

That’s exactly why the Climate Fund was created; we needed a reliable, local offsetting resource with resulting measurable, tangible emission-reduction projects right here, locally. It’s an impact amplifier — tackling carbon emissions and economic inequality at once.

At the same time, our offsetters, carbon racers and business partners are all working to reduce their energy use. We know that the transition off of fossil fuels won’t be cheap, and we are committed to ensuring that our lower-income neighbors aren’t left behind in this transition and can afford to not only participate but also lead the way!

Most of us need help to make these improvements on our homes and workplaces, and the Climate Fund is a key way in collectively making this possible.

Does your organization or business want to help Finger Lakes families stay warm this winter? Email or visit for more information, including benefits of joining our ’21-’22 winter FLECA campaign!

Marisa Lansing is the Climate Fund Coordinator at Sustainable Tompkins.

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