· Features

Lottery makes carbon offsetting – something dull and worthy – into a game

Carbon Lottery claims to be the world’s first online voluntary carbon offset platform to let users purchase a lottery ticket and offset their carbon footprint, with prizes of up to €4 million (£3.4 million) for a £2 ticket.

That offsets 100kg of carbon dioxide, the amount emitted in an average bus ride. Proceeds go to high-quality VCS and Gold Standard projects based in India, Brazil, Guatemala and Turkey.

The initiative was developed by Sterling Waterford Securities in response to low take-up of carbon offsetting among business - and high levels of confusion about it among consumers. The founders believe to change behaviour one needs to incentivise the consumer. Social media, such as Facebook, play a big role in spreading the message and driving engagement.

Carbon Lottery is focusing on large consumer brands that need to offset the footprint of various product lines: the likes of Unilever and P&G, brand owners of global scale that have also made significant strides towards sustainability.

Carbon Lottery claims brands will benefit: first, by providing a fun, online, consumer-led offsetting solution. Then, by creating a new customer marketing tool. Third, by giving brands access to a new revenue stream (selling tickets to staff and clients). Finally, by providing presence in social media by encouraging players to share lottery experience with friends.

The inititative is some way down the line in attracting corporate clients. It is using the hook of the big jackpot prize to encourage staff or clients to buy tickets. It also offers a revenue share to B2B partners. The benefits reward responsible behaviour by offering players 'the dream', in the form of a large jackpot prize.

Players can track the offsetting projects their tickets are supporting via the Carbon Lottery website and, of course, can Facebook it.

Ultimately, Carbon Lottery is confident the initiative will take off because it makes carbon offsetting more social, and turns something that could be described as dull and worthy, into a game.

Three of the projects were developed with carbon offset consultancy Eco Securities. Carbon Lottery is licensed in Malta and falls within UK jurisdiction. The website's Carbon Calculator shows how many tickets you need to buy to offset carbon footprint.

It must be hoping for a large brand to take the plunge and create the first euro millionaire from offsetting carbon. That would put Carbon Lottery on the map.

Michael Saxton (pictured) is founder of Greenpoint PR