Pledge Balance, the app to repay your daily commuting emissions

The recent “Gilet Jaunes” protests in France against the increase of taxes on fossil fuels show that even if governments have the intentions to reduce the carbon footprint of their country, it does not necessarily work that easily. Gilet Jaunes in France confirmed that this kind of change needs to be understood and welcomed by the citizens otherwise it will not happen.  It is in this context that the idea of Pledge Balance – an app to repay the negative impact on the environment of your daily travel – seems just right.

Pledge Balance has nothing to do with “Gilet Jaunes” neither with France yet in this historical moment it seems like the perfect idea. We do have to understand that whenever we move either by car, train, boat or plane we do impact the environment and solutions to reduce this impact need to be put in place. Paying a small amount of money could be the solution.

Impakter had the opportunity to speak with Pledge Balance CEO and Founder Brian Skinner just ahead of the official launch of the app.  Here what he has to say:

Can you explain to our readers how does Pledge Balance work?

Brian Skinner: It is an app to balance the negative impact of your daily travel with a tiny payment. The payment goes 100% to environmental projects like planting trees and other forms of carbon removal. We tell you the exact project and your impact of CO2 removed.

You enter your flights and drives into the app, we do the math and charge once a month. For example, driving 50 miles (80 km) is 17 cents (£0.13 / €0.15). It’s a small daily action made fun by growing virtual trees, feels good, and has a substantial impact over time.

You can’t solve the problem alone though, so there are features to multiply your impact by inspiring friends to Pledge Balance. You earn partial credit for their actions, plus the people they inspire, and get to see just how far your reach extends.

In the photo:  Pledge Balance App. Photo Credit: Pledge Balance

Why have you decided to start Pledge Balance?

Brian Skinner: We all know travel spews gunk into the air that hurts the planet – yet we have to get around! I am like a lot of people – care about the environment but don’t purchase carbon offsets for my damage. The idea for Pledge Balance came from examining my disconnect between beliefs and actions.

Carbon offsets have been around for a long time, but the adoption is abysmal. It usually works by once a year going to a website with a boring calculator and making a large painful payment ($160 / £125 / €140).

Pledge Balance attempts to fix these issues and drastically increase the use of carbon offsets. It is a frequent action with bite-sized payments that provides on-going good feelings. We limit it to just travel as that has the most tangible connection between your actions and emissions. It is a public pledge to encourage others to join and have an impact greater than just you.

In the photo:  Pledge Balance App. Photo Credit: Pledge Balance

Did you see a lot of interest for your app on the web?  When will it be released to the general public?

Brian Skinner: We have been thrilled with the amount of interest so far in Pledge Balance. Most impressive is the diversity – college students, business owners, scientists, mothers – from all over the world. A wide range of people want to take personal responsibility for their travel emissions!

Right now, Pledge Balance is in private beta for iOS (we regularly let more people join, so go to pledgebalance.com if you are interested). It will be released on the iOS app store in Q1 2019 and then for Android as soon as we can so if you are an Android user who wants to be notified when it is ready, go to pledgebalance.com as well.

In the photo:  Pledge Balance. Photo Credit: Pledge Balance

What are your thoughts on global warming and climate change? What kind of positive impact would you like to make with your app?

Brian Skinner:  I am a pragmatist when it comes to global warming and climate change. Petrifying doomsday scenarios and finger-pointing won’t get us anywhere, so I won’t rehash it now. Instead I’ll make a case why carbon offsets need to be a bigger part of the discussion for the next 10-20 years.

In the long run clean energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels, but adoption won’t happen overnight. If every car sold from today forward was electric, it would still take on the order of 8 years for HALF the cars on the road to be electric. For airplanes, battery technology isn’t close and planes are replaced more slowly than cars. Too much damage will be done simply waiting for improved technology or a global carbon tax. We need individuals and businesses who care to fill this 10-20 years gap – luckily the cost to offset is small, only adding about 2% to gas prices and 1% to plane tickets!

However, Pledge Balance isn’t just about what I believe – it is a platform that allows people to have their own motivations. If you can publicly state why it is important to you, it will inspire your friends and family to join the Pledge much more effectively than me. We are all in this together!

In the photo:  Pledge Balance App. Photo Credit: Pledge Balance

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com – In the cover photo:  Pledge Balance App. Photo Credit: Pledge Balance

About the Author /

Born in Rome. Law and Political Science Graduate. I lived and studied in the States and in Italy. Extremely passionate about privacy, social media, internet and security. I'm a Certified Information Privacy Professional. (CIPP/E)

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