By on June 11, 2012

In Japan, drivers of Nissan’s all-electric Leaf plant trees while they drive. Nissan started a Zero Emission Fund. Carbon credits are paid into this fund by converting the CO2 emissions prevented by individual Leaf owners in Japan.

The Leaf already awarded virtual “Eco Trees” to its drivers, simply symbols for environmentally responsible driving.  The new program is not just a feel-good gimmick, trees are now growing for real and officially. The carbon credits are certified by Japan’s  Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and are sold to the Green Investment Promotion Organization. The METI affiliate promotes investment in low carbon emissions. The Leaf’s distance traveled is accurately recorded on-line by Nissan’s Carwings data center.

According to The Nikkei [sub], individual owners qualified for the generation of carbon credits since 2008, but the small lots  – a single vehicle can earn emission credits equivalent to the approximately 0.9 ton of CO2 generated annually by a gasoline-fueled car – were rarely used by their owners. Consenting Leaf owners now can consolidate their otherwise lost credits. Japanese Leaf sales totaled around 12,000 until March. Nissan plans to generate carbon credits of up to 10,000 tons this year, The Nikkei says.

Profits earned by the sale of the credits are used to pay for quick charge stations and to plant trees. The more you drive, the greener the trees. The forests created while driving are appropriately called “Leaf forest,” but I am not sure that the pun works in Japanese.


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14 Comments on “Nissan Owners Plant Leaf Forests While They Drive...”

  • avatar

    Why don’t you make like a Nissan, and Leaf?

    Okay that’s out of my system. This is actually a pretty cool idea, pandering to the green crowd and such, especially if a lot of them live in a place where planting and growing a tree may not be very feasible/simple. Though it does give them one more thing to be smug about, at least I can plant my own garden, so neener neener back to them.

  • avatar

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  • avatar

    Color me skeptical, but if every carbon credit issuer that claimed a tree was planted every time so many credits were owned actually did it…shouldn’t there be far more re/new forested areas? I’m not from Missouri, but I’ve got a bit of “show me” that nags every time such a thing is mentioned. There’s just so much room for a slick Willy to put on a Jimmy Carter smile and say, “Suuuuure, we planted millions of trees in southern Elbonia!”

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a problem, to be sure, but it seems like Nissan is taking some pains to be sure that the green is delivered.

      And plenty of CO2 offset projects would have happened, anyway, without gathering in the extra cash from carbon offset credits.

      However, a bigger problem is that there’s no incentive not to burn down the Amazon rain forest.

  • avatar

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t these trees need CO2 to grow?

    • 0 avatar

      Mark45: “… but don’t these trees need CO2 to grow?”

      Yes. But they don’t need very much. Trees also need light, the right temps, certain nutrients, water at appropriate times and appropriate humidity. Those are much more significant in determining tree growth.

      Research papers:

      New Scientist Summary:

      Note that some of the experimental papers refer to CO2 levels almost twice what we have now. We’ll likely see a lot of warming before we start to get any possible negative feedback from increased CO2 sequestration in plant growth due to those high CO2 levels.

      You’ll notice that the planet forested itself pretty well at the CO2 levels prevailing in the 1800s.

  • avatar

    IIRC and admittedly I’ve never delved into it but the way the the carbon cycle works, planting a tree doesn’t really do all that much for offsetting carbon emissions. Then there is the whole deal about how green the electricity is and while these sorts of vehicles are good for point of source pollution it does little for the poor saps living near a powerplant.

    Nice marketing Nissan but its about as useful as chickens who shit teddy bears

  • avatar

    I don’t think this is what Mr. Rogers meant when he talked about the “garden of your mind”…

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Electric cars need electricity to charge their batteries. The electricity comes from burning fossil fuels that produce CO2. How does an electric car reduce CO2 emissions.

    • 0 avatar

      I suppose you *could* use nuclear, hydro, wind, solar or geothermal power to make the electricity.

      But where’s the fun in that? It’s so much better to deny we have a problem or, if you deign to acknowledge it, that human beings are incpable of creative, effective solutions.

    • 0 avatar

      @robert- A typical internal combustion engine is 30% efficient, with about 60% of all energy produced being lost in heat from the exhaust and radiator. A typical electric engine is over 90% efficient and Japanese researchers recently claimed to have invented one that is 98% efficient. So we are more than doubling our bang for our buck by using electricity instead of internal combustion. Hope that helps.

  • avatar

    The more empty greenwashing I hear about, the more I want to go home and burn a tire.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh!!! A video game that shows how many trees I’ve saved? Really? Did your power come from a hill-topping coal plant or a fracked-out gas plant? Yeah, sure you’re saving trees.

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