Friday, February 23, 2007

Buying and selling indulgences in the United Church of Carbon

Suzuki’s bus and Fluffy’s farts have something in common

Suggestible as I am to the hypothesis that the passing passions of the left are tantamount to religions (or substitutes therefor), I had yet to be 100% convinced that environmentalism had reached this level. But when environmental confessors are selling the equivalent of indulgences by issuing, “carbon offsets” to David Suzuki, the Rolling Stones, and the owners of gassy cats, well, the analogy does seem more apt. From today’s Globe and Mail:

But in an era where hyper environmental sensitivities abound, the Suzuki organization, one of Canada's biggest anti-pollution think tanks, anticipated some might view it as hypocritical to talk about global warming and the environment, while burning fossil fuels to travel.

So the foundation pledged, before the tour began, that it would offset all of what it calls the "major" emissions of the trip.

"At the end of the tour, we will calculate the total emissions from the tour, and purchase high-quality carbon offsets that support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects," said Paul Lingl, a climate-change specialist with the foundation. The group says it's buying what it terms "gold standard" carbon offsets from my climate, a Zurich, Switzerland-based non-profit company that funds energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Under carbon-offset schemes, individuals and groups can claim their activities cause no net addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by funding projects that fully offset their emissions. Rock bands such as the Rolling Stones and organizations that want to burnish their environmental image have been buying these offsets for years.

Happlily, even if you are not Mick Jagger or an eco-gelical on a country-wide tour, purchasing an eco-indulgence is still within your reach. From Bloomberg News:

Sydney-based Easy Being Green says it will mitigate your cat's flatulent contribution to global warming for A$8 ($6). The same company could also make your granny "carbon-neutral" at A$10 a year, according to a report in the Australian newspaper last weekend.

Then there's Carbon Planet Pty, another company cited in the article. If you are hopping on a short-haul flight between Sydney and Canberra, and feeling bad about the damage you are doing to the ecosystem, you can buy credits worth A$23, for which the Adelaide-based company will guarantee to keep 1 ton of carbon dioxide out of the air for 100 years.

I am hardly the first person to catch on to this indulgence analogy, as this Google search suggests.

Officially Screwed and Dust My Broom are also on to Suzuki today.


Fred :) said...

its a farce . . the price of credits - at the Euro's own market place, has collapsed. They are well on the way to being worthless

The Cap & Trade Ponzi scheme is exposed

Anonymous said...

Indulgences were sold not to help balance the dark with light but to enrich church coffers.. so how are the scammers siphoning off the cash here now?
(real conservative)

Dave Sag said...

The analogy between carbon credits and mediaeval papal indulgences is specious at best. A better analogy is waste removal. Carbon credits come in many forms and there are good ones and bad ones. Put simply they channel funds from polluters to projects that either clean up that pollution, or prevent future pollution from happening. Yes the price of some Kyoto compatible credits has fluctuated but companies like mine buy them in lots at a daily spot price and retail them with a reasonable margin to individuals and small businesses.

We also have engineers on staff who help businesses reduce their emisions naturally. Indeed we espouse a Measure, Reduce then Offset approach and make pretty good money doing it.

We are comitted to scientific rigour and financial transparency. See for example.

One of our carbon credits, retailed at AU$23 per tonne, is actually a receipt for service, that service being the removal abd storage of a tonne of CO2. This is no indulgence but an actual physical act of CO2 removal and storage.

Dave Sag
CEO - Carbon Planet

Greg said...

The trading of carbon indulgences is now the mechanism by which the old 'limousine' liberals, now 'Marie Antoinette' liberals, can enjoy their lives of conspicuous consumption, while the rest of us 'eat cake'.

Anonymous said...

Have the proper authorities come to a decision yet on whether or not teenage boys are being 'carbon neutral' when they light their farts on fire?

Suzuki, the Goracle et al. should weigh in with their esteemed powers of obfuscation on this important question of our times...