It that a tree coming from the imaginary tailpipe in that Nissan Leaf? Sure looks like it.

On Monday, Nissan announced the establishment of its Zero Emission Fund, which uses driving distances accumulated by its battery-electric vehicle to generate actual monetary investment in charging infrastructure and re-forestation efforts.

Here's how it works (we think): miles driven in Leafs are calculated by the car's on-board navigation system, added up somewhere and then those collective miles are converted to a number of CO2 "offset credits" which are certified by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Those credits are then sold, and the profits earned are invested in both EV-charging infrastructure and forest-conservation efforts. Those areas will be called, wait for it, Leaf Forests. Nissan started selling the Leaf in Japan in late 2010, so we expect a fair number of credits could have been generated by now.

The new scheme leads us to ask one important question, though: if a tree falls in a Leaf Forest and no one can hear it, is the sound louder than the Leaf itself?
Related Gallery2012 Nissan Leaf
2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf2012 Nissan Leaf
Show full PR text
Nissan Establishes Zero Emission Fund

Zero-emission miles/kilometers driven by Nissan LEAF owners to be converted to CO2 offset credits

Credits to be sold, profits to be invested in quick charger infrastructure development and forest conservation activities

YOKOHAMA, Japan (June 11, 2012) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the launch of the Nissan Zero Emission Fund, a new fund for individual Nissan electric vehicle (EV) owners in Japan which converts the amount of CO2 emissions that are offset by driving the 100% electric Nissan LEAF to generate credits.

Through participation in this fund program, Nissan LEAF owners will be able to generate CO2 emissions credits certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and sold to the Green Investment Promotion Organization, an organization that promotes investment in low carbon emissions. The system calculates and certifies the amount of CO2 emissions that are avoided by driving zero-emissions vehicles. Profits earned by the sale of the credits will be invested by the fund to support the installation of quick charging facilities and forest conservation activities to accelerate the realization of a zero-emission society.

Nissan will engage in forest conservation efforts together with "more trees," a generally incorporated foundation in Japan. Nissan and more trees will use part of the profits generated by the fund to facilitate conservation of thinning forests in Japan that need reforestation, to be designated "LEAF Forests."

The Nissan LEAF, launched in Japan in December 2010, emits no CO2 gas when operated-unlike conventional gasoline powered vehicles. The Nissan Zero Emission Fund is a platform where the distance that every participating Nissan LEAF owner drives is converted to a credit that recognizes the CO2 emissions that are offset based on the average CO2 emitted by a gasoline powered vehicle. The total annual CO2 emissions that are avoided by driving the LEAF will be converted into credits and sold to the Green Innovation Promotion Organization. As the amount of offset CO2 emissions is calculated according to the distance traveled, the more that Nissan LEAF owners participate, the more CO2 emissions are reduced, and this ultimately will contribute toward the installation of quick chargers as well as environmental conservation through the Nissan Zero Emission Fund.

The Nissan LEAF's total annual distance traveled is automatically collected by the NISSAN CARWINGS Data Center through its continuous on-board communication unit. This communication technology provides more accurate driving data and delivers greater convenience to Nissan LEAF owners in order to optimize their EV driving experience.

Nissan Zero Emission Fund Overview

Target users:
Nissan LEAF owners who subscribe to the CARWINGS for EV, Nissan's car navigation ICT system
Use of certified credits:

1) To help expand the quick-charging infrastructure and facilitate faster adoption of zero-emission vehicles
2) To assist with reforestation/environmental conservation activities and other activities

Co-implementer (the organization to which credits are sold):
Green Investment Promotion Organization
Use of profits

The CO2 emissions credits sold through the Nissan Zero Emission Fund will be used for the management of the Fund and the following purposes:
1. Installation of quick charging units
Quick charging facilities will be installed in appropriate locations in Japan on a needs-basis to help realize a zero-emission society, expand the adoption of electric vehicles, and offer greater convenience for EV owners.
2. Forest conservation

Forests in Japan that need to be conserved will be restored as "LEAF Forests."
In fiscal 2012, forest conservation activities will be conducted in the following areas which have reservoirs supplying water to residents of Tokyo and Yokohama City, Kanagawa prefecture:
Tabayama-mura, Kosuge-mura and Doushi-mura in Yamanashi prefecture

Forest conservation areas will be gradually expanded in line with the level of profits earned by the fund.