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Monday, October 30, 2006

Not all carbon offset companies are equal!

Mike Mason, one of the founders of Climate Care, and environmental activist George Monbiot debated the benefits of carbon-offsetting schemes on Radio Five Live today. They were both discussing an investigation by one of the program's journalists into the Carbon Neutral Company which uncovered that the company in question invests in forests that would have been planted anyway! Thankfully Climate Care appears to be made of better stuff and Mike Mason gave a very good account of his company's activities.

One of the other interesting things uncovered by the investigative journalist was that the money the UK government spent offsetting the emissions of the Gleneagles G8 meeting would almost all go to monitors (auditors from big accounting firms like PriceWaterhouse) that would ensure the savings have actually occurred. In other words the bureacracy was far too unwieldy and expensive -- and it had put off many of the people involved -- not least the South African city council that was to be the benefactor of the energy efficiency improvements. They said they would think twice before getting involved with the same kind of scheme again.

George Monbiot had the last word by commenting that the carbon-neutralization companies that have sprung up in recent years were the "priests of the 21st century" that you could "pay a little money to them in order to atone for your sins". He argued that these companies were actually detrimental to the global environmental cause because they relieved the pressure for real political change which he said was the only real way of tackling the problem of climate change. I can definitely see his point. And I agree with him that I would dearly love the governments of this country and others to make the political changes necessary - however painful. But considering that they have known about the science for 20 years and not acted, it is likely that they will delay a little bit longer. So what am I suppose to do in the mean time? If nothing else the discussion helped me to realise that Climate Care is better than the Carbon Neutral Company (which appears to be little better than a brokerage).


  • At 12:22 AM, Blogger Ana said…

    I'm happy to know I offset my flights in the right company then. :)


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