In one of the latest efforts to reach out to environmentally conscious cardholders, two organizations have launched a test in the United Kingdom during which consumers can use debit and credit cards to track their carbon emissions. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Art, Manufactures and Commerce, based in the UK, and France-based card processor Atos Worldline say they are testing a personal carbon-emissions calculator that uses Nectar-branded loyalty cards. The test is scheduled to last five months and will involve up to 1,000 participants, the Royal Society says in a statement. Test participants will receive carbon credits, though the amount was unspecified. Carbon credits give financial value to the cost of polluting the air. They are used in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Each time a participant uses a Nectar card to buy fuel at a BP petrol station, Atos will deduct carbon credits from that participant's online account. Cardholders can track their carbon use online and trade surplus carbon credits through an online trading system. Atos is providing the technology for the immediate carbon calculations. Neither Atos nor the Royal Society responded to CardLine Global requests for comment. The trial will help show how a personal carbon-trading scheme could operate in practice, Matt Prescott, director of the society's CarbonLimited project, says in a statement. Adil Moussa, an analyst for United States-based Aite Group LLC, tells CardLine Global the card effort represents a "really interesting" addition to environmentally friendly card schemes already offered in Europe. "This one is clever in the sense that this carbon card is being tied into a credit card or prepaid card," Moussa says. "It's giving you a reason to use it." Other "green" credit cards, such as Barclaycard's Breathe Easy card, offer discounts on purchases of "green" merchandise such as household cleaners. (CardLine Global, 27 Nov. 2007). MBNA Canada Bank enables cardholders to earn points the bank uses to buy carbon-offset credits that support environmental projects (CardLine Global, 15 Nov. 2007). Moussa says such cards are about marketing. Companies "find a segment of the population and come up with products to cater to them," he says. "These products really strike a chord with some people." The U.S. Federal Trade Commission earlier this year said it was working to clarify carbon-offset claims made by issuers and other companies.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry