In Japan, drivers of Nissan’s all-electric Leaf plant trees while they drive thanks to Nissan;s Zero Emission Fund in which 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, 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.