Canadian entrepreneur Craig Cohon has committed to reverse his lifetime’s carbon footprint. Cohon has held C-suite positions at The Coca-Cola Company and Cirque du Soleil and founded multiple startups.
Cohon knew that he had far exceeded this global average. He regularly flew across the world several times a month so he started thinking about how much damage he had personally done to the environment and whether he could actually take back as much carbon from the atmosphere as he had emitted into it over the years. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the average person born in the 1950s is expected to emit 350 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime.
I am to blame for my part in the climate crisis. My lifetime carbon emissions were 28 times more than the global average.Craig Cohon
Cohon realized he was to blame for his part in the climate crisis. About a year ago he was challenged by a journalist to reverse my lifetime carbon footprint. “I found out that I was the first person in the world to try to calculate their lifetime carbon footprint and it was an intensive two-month process,” he told the WEF. “I started by asking my 85 and 84-year-old parents everything from how much beef I ate as a child, to how many flights we took.”
He then hired people to help him with the calculation. He went to Fund Nature and MyCarbon and they worked on all the data and calculated that my lifetime carbon emissions were 8147 tCO2e or 136 tCO2e a year. That is 28 times more than the global average
1. Carbon removal
Cohon is investing his entire pension fund in carbon reduction solutions. He’s signed a contract for forward carbon credits to support frontier technology that is collateralized. This will put millions of dollars into a portfolio of new types of carbon removal technology, including direct air capture, mineralisation, kelp sequestering and turning CO2 into concrete. His portfolio combines nature-based solutions with frontier-based solutions.
Cohon is working with an organization called Patch, which runs a very detailed analysis and vetting process on carbon removal schemes and its certification process is intense. There were some schemes that we discounted because they didn’t meet the criteria.
“I approached it like vetting a private equity deal,” he told WEF. “I had to do my due diligence. If I start asking questions about a company’s certification process and management and I don’t get the answers or the follow-up documentation, then I am not going to invest my pension fund in it.”
2. Raising awareness
Cohon is starting a multi-year campaign on carbon removal. The Walk it Back campaign involves walking around the world with a group of diverse individuals. They are teaming up with the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum and working with an amazing activist group called Re-Earth.
The campaign starts with Cohon walking from London to Istanbul on 3 January 2023. He will walk 25km per day for 153 days and I’m walking with different people every day. Activists, financial people, artists, politicians, and climate justice experts will walk with Cohon.
“I’m crossing 14 countries and 82 cities and I will hopefully be raising awareness for 17 million people along the way. Every day is going to be a new adventure and I will be followed by two refurbished containers pulled by clean-energy trucks, one is my living quarters and the other is the campaign headquarters covered in art that describes ten different types of carbon removal technology,” he concluded.