Sunday, October 29, 2006

Carbon Offsets : More snake oil

Saw Al Gore's An Inconvenient truth the other day . The film is quite
convincing to somebody who doesn't need convincing , it just reaffirms one's faith in reducing one's footprint on planet earth . I believe it is
also quite convincing to the skeptics that one needs to take action. I
heard my boss spewing the need to go green . And what better way to be
green than to buy green !! I mentioned this need to buy green in a
previous blog. Coming back to the movie , the
movie suggests to take action and sends you to Climate Crisis to learn more
about global warming and action we as individuals can take. I agree
with everything in varying degrees to what the site promotes until it
comes to the point of carbon offsets/credits . The site points to the Cool driver site that allows you
to clean your conscience . It proclaims at the top of the site "You do
not have to stop driving to fight global warming "

The idea is that you clean your conscience by buying green credits that go towards seting up green energy like wind power , planting trees etc , very much akin to
absolving yourself of your sins by giving to the temple/priest/poor . I
understand the logic of carbon credits and I am for it but when somebody
starts promoting it as a tool to take care of one's sins , it really
gets my goat .
Rather than promoting a lifestyle that involves reduction of consumption
and using a car only when necessary it says , go and drive and we will
clean up the mess afterwards which is a lot of bull !!
The argument advanced by the likes of SinksWatch, Carbon Trade Watch or The Corner House is that such schemes fail to address (or, worse, deliberately disguise) the fact that the real problem is our excessive burning of fossil fuels. The Corner House’s uncompromising position is that “the only realistic approach to the dangers of climate change is to stop production of coal, oil and gas as soon as possible, leaving the great bulk of fossil fuels safely underground”.
Offsetting, in this view, merely salves consciences, while creating the
illusion that consumption (cheap air travel being a prime example) and
production patterns in the richer countries can be maintained without
harming the climate . Businesses offer the option to neutralize
everything from buying a plane ticket or cars by buying equivalent green
credits with ready calculators online .
The subtext that
these adverts forget to write is " We are a corporation that makes money doing green power
projects and we use suckers to pay for it . "


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