Marshall Scholar Works with Oriel College to Create Innovative Carbon Offset Scheme

Ben Carmichael, a 2008 Marshall Scholar studying for an MLitt in Geography & the Environment at Oxford, has partnered with his college to develop a highly progressive carbon offset scheme that has caught the attention of BBC World Service. Oriel College, the oldest royal charter in Oxford, has a strong tradition of supporting Marshall Scholars and environmental students.

Through the leadership of Sir Derek Morris, Oriel's Provost, and the generous commitment of resources from Students, College and Alumni, Oriel has become the first Oxford college to offset its carbon footprint by supporting Peruvian farmers in the world renowned Manu Biosphere Reserve. Guided by a report prepared by the Carbon Trust, and past students of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, Ben worked to craft a long-term vision and implement a short-term solution. Through these and other efforts, a partnership was formed between the CREES Foundation, Oriel College and Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Jackson Senior Research Fellow of Oriel College, to develop an agroforestry project that will go beyond long-term carbon capture. It has additional social, economic, ecosystem and conservation benefits.

The UNESCO Manu Biosphere Reserve, an roughly the size of Wales, is a world renowned location for biodiversity, with 1,300 species of butterflies, 800 species of birds, 160 species of mammals and an estimated 25,000 species of flowering plants. Among them are some of the world's most endangered and highly sought after species, including the cock of the rock and blue headed macaw.

"This is exactly the kind of climate mitigation we need to be seeing more of," says Ben Carmichael. "Consider that Oriel is the oldest royal foundation in Oxford. It is a place of traditions rooted in a long and rich history. Climate change, on the other hand, is an issue of great contemporary importance. We need more established communities like Oriel -- even all of Oxford -- to come forward and commit to carbon mitigation and emissions reductions. Sir Morris's commitment to the issue is impressive. I hope other colleges follow."

A news feature about Oriel's offsetting program will appear on BBC World Service soon.