We came up with the name Sandbag because for us it symbolised a positive action people could take to protect themselves from natural disasters and flooding is likely to be increasing impact of global climate change. We also wanted a single word that would distinguish us from the many 'climate this' or 'carbon thats' there are already out there.
Only after we had launched, someone pointed out that sandbags are used as a safety control in hot air ballooning - 'hot air' is a term used in emissions trading to describe the permits that become spare through no actually effort on the behalf of the owner - ie they were given them wrongly in the first place. We like this. Sandbag is all about controlling 'hot air' in emissions trading.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are being emitted in huge volumes all over the planet and are highly concentrated in rich countries. These additions to the atmosphere last for many years, accumulating and trapping more of the suns energy. Thankfully some sensible people in the UN and Brussels have decided to take control of the situation. Rich countries and large commercial sources of greenhouse gases are now legally prevented from emitting more than a fixed amount in a given year - their emissions are capped. But because it doesn't really matter to planet earth where emissions of greenhouse gases occur - they all eventually do the same thing: heat the planet up - the regulators have said if you have to emit more than your cap, you can, but you have to find someone else who is prepared to emit less than their cap to sell you their permit to emit. And this market in buying and selling pollution permits is now underway, governed by rules set periodically by the UN and Europe.
Sandbag is currently focusing on the EU emissions trading scheme, but this is actually just a tool for the EU to meet its target under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol set out to reduce developed countries emissions by 5% compared to 1990 levels. It too issues permits up to the level of a cap and allows trading between countries that have caps. The allowances created under the EU scheme count towards Kyoto targets too, so each certificate we buy from the EU scheme also helps the EU meet its target under Kyoto.
Investing in projects in developing countries is a great thing to do if your primary concern is development - but to tackle climate change we have to quickly reduce the level of emissions occurring in industrialised nations.
These are the counties who have created the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which is driving global warming and it is their responsibility to take the lead in reducing emissions.
Emissions trading is supposed to be a tool to help this happen - in a market with a limited initial supply of permits, fewer in circulation means prices will rise making the incentive greater to invest in solutions. This is what sandbag is focused on achieving.
Some other organisations encourage people to invest in credits from developing countries directly - adding to the demand that is already there from companies and countries with caps. This is a good thing to do if your primary interest is in helping development but because the supply of these credits is not capped it will not have an impact on the overall price paid and does not have any effect on the levels of pollution in the West - where responsibility lies to make the deepest cuts.