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Carbon Trading Company's Offices Occupied

Mike Wells | 21.02.2007 18:14 | Ecology | London

The London offices of the Carbon Neutral Company were occupied by activists. Article also includes a press release from London Rising Tide.

carbon offsets sweeping true issues under the carpet
carbon offsets sweeping true issues under the carpet

security not happy but it was a peaceful event
security not happy but it was a peaceful event

Sweedish tv interview campaigners
Sweedish tv interview campaigners

Report by Mike Wells

Today, Wednesday 21st Feb 2007, in a non-violent protest, activists occupied the offices of a company dealing in Carbon Offsets, whilst other campaigners carried out an action outside the Company's offices in Kings Cross London. The action was carried out to highlight what they claim is the greenwash of this company, and the dangers of sidelining the hugely important issue of climate change. This action, sweeping coal under a carpet, was carried out to demonstrate their assertion that carbon trading is to attempt to sweep the issues associated with climate change under the carpet.

Below is a copy of London Rising Tides press release relating to this action.


London Rising Tide has occupied the head office of the Carbon Neutral Company (formerly Future Forests) on the day they had been invited to appear before the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change, that is chaired by the Carbon Neutral Company.

This is what they have to say:


Today we have occupied and with any luck shut down the head office of the Carbon Neutral Company (CNC) here in King’s Cross. CNC is one of many businesses which sell ‘carbon offsets’ to people and companies that want to cancel out their contribution to climate chaos (also known as ‘global warming’). CNC claims that it will neutralise the carbon dioxide (CO2) given off by, say, Silverjet (a private jet airline), and that it will do this by paying people in developing countries to cut their own emissions with schemes that involve renewable energy or tree planting. So what’s the problem?

Carbon offsetting: an excuse for no action?

Climate chaos is an issue of justice: it is hurting the world’s poorest (and least-polluting) people first and hardest, causing massive disasters and threatening millions of species worldwide. Many people are now questioning whether offsetting allows some of us in the richer, developed world to carry on with our massively polluting lifestyles, instead of lowering our own emissions. Those who are buying offsets are often doing so with the best of intentions, but the fact remains that it’s a smokescreen that has to stop.

If we compare the planet to a running bath, full almost to the brim with CO2, to offset CO2 emissions is like saying “I won’t turn off my tap. I’ll pay someone else £10 to pay someone else £2 to turn off their own tap.” (Guess who pockets the change?) The reality is that we need to turn off both, if we’re to have a chance of cutting CO2 emissions by 50% before 2016 (which is the single most important task facing you and me, right here, right now in 2007.)

Not only is tree planting a discredited failure when it comes to soaking up carbon, many other offset schemes are looking pretty shabby when looked at in detail by independent third parties.

Yesterday, Carbon Trade Watch released a report called “The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins” that gave a lot of evidence and information as to why offsetting is ineffective, injust and damaging to the climate change debate. (

Who are we?

Our group is called London Rising Tide (LRT), and we are part of a wider national and international movement that believes passionately in taking direct action for ‘climate justice’. We reckon it’s well past time for us to get creative, to get movement-building, to drown out the rising tide of corporate ‘greenwash’ (ie. profit-driven lies), to get food growing with neighbours and friends, and to get seriously disobedient, (but to do it with a good bit of humour).

A while ago, we were asked by the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change to make a submission about planned Climate Bill. The Committee is administrated by the Carbon Neutral Company. After thinking long and hard about it, this was our response:

‘We're declining the invitation to address the meeting, since we believe in the creation of mass movements striving for systemic social and ecological change. Engaging with the committee would be a distraction from that, as it's not in the interests of either Parliament or private companies to call for - or work for - such change. Also, we are deeply sceptical about the apparent privatisation of the committee process, especially when the company concerned is profiting handsomely from the sale to the public of the phony solution that is the carbon offset.’

Mike Wells
- e-mail:


follow up press release

22.02.2007 10:44

Activists occupy Carbon Neutral Company While Carbon Neutral Company
Occupies Houses of Parliament, 21.2.07

Three activists from London Rising Tide today barricaded themselves inside
the London headquarters of the Carbon Neutral Company. The protest took
place to highlight the damage that offset companies are doing in
promoting climate complacency in the general public.

London Rising Tide (LRT) had been invited by the Carbon Neutral Company to
take part in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change, which is
chaired by the Carbon Neutral Company. But Rising Tide instead chose to
occupy the offices of the Carbon Neutral Company as a statement against
the CNC chairing a committee which they see as a clear conflict of
interest given that they are profiting form climate change.

Speaking from the blockade, LRT activist Sam Chase said that, “The Carbon
Neutral Company is today occupying the Houses Of Parliament, so we have
decided to occupy the Carbon Neutral Company. They have no business
chairing a committee like this. Their livelihoods and profit margins
depend on exploiting people’s anxiety about climate change, and as such
it’s a travesty that they are chairing a governmental panel on climate

Tony Gordon, who also took part in the occupation said that, “Offset
companies are selling consumers a peace of mind about climate change that
just shouldn’t exist. The whole idea of offsetting is a throw back to the
sale of indulgences to guilty sinners in the middle ages – both patently
ridiculous and ineffective.”

The occupation came the day after a report was published, “The Carbon
Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins,” that was highly
critical of the offsets industry, arguing that not only were supposed
climate benefits impossible to quantify, that projects are also being
imposed on communities in the global South with little consultation.

Earlier, people from LRT outside the office had unfurled a banner reading
'carbon "offset = climate upset', and symbolically swept coal under a
piece of carpet, to symbolise the 'effectiveness' of carbon offsets. The
indoor activists left the office voluntarily at about 4.30 having occupied
the offices for the entire day.

For further comment, more information or picture, email, or contact:
London Rising Tide,
c/o 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES; Tel: 07708 794665
Shell is the new sponsor of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.
Send your photos and artworks in to our 'Shell's Wild Lie'
counter-exhibition: &

See also the Camp for Climate Action site:
as well as Climate Indymedia:

See also
Climate campaign targets offsets
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Climate campaigners have occupied the offices of one of Britain's leading carbon management companies to protest against carbon offsetting.London Rising Tide activists say offsetting, which sees firms pay for emissions cuts elsewhere rather than curbing their own emissions, is a scam.

The group has occupied meeting space of the CarbonNeutral Company, formerly Future Forests, in central London.

Offsetting is practised by a number of UK companies and the government.

"The CarbonNeutral Company is working away from solutions to climate change, because offsetting is a smokescreen," Sam Chase from London Rising Tide told the BBC News website.

"It lets us continue with our absurd high emission lifestyle, and lets politicians tell the public they are finding solutions to climate change when in fact they are sweeping the issue under the carpet."

Reduce first

Rising Tide has been invited to give evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change (APPGCC), which it says has been "privatised", with its operations co-ordinated by the CarbonNeutral Company.

The politicians' group has already heard evidence from other activists that companies running offset schemes are "seriously misleading" the public.
Speaking for CarbonNeutral, Sue Welland told the BBC: "This group (Rising Tide) has never asked for a meeting with us, so we don't know what they do, and I don't think they know what we do.

"What we do is help companies measure and reduce their emissions; and where they can't reduce their emissions, we help them offset. So we're a carbon management company, not a carbon offsetting company."

The government has endorsed offsetting as a method of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Offsetting isn't the answer to climate change," said Environment Minister David Miliband last month.

"The first step should always be to see how we can avoid and reduce emissions. However, some emissions can't or won't be avoided, and that's where offsetting has a role to play."

The carbon dioxide produced during flights taken by ministers and officials is calculated, and money invested in clean energy or energy efficiency projects in developing countries. In principle, these investments will prevent the same volume of emissions as were generated by the flights.

But activists allege that many schemes funded by companies and government bodies do not generate emissions reductions, and do little to benefit developing countries. They are particularly critical of tree-planting schemes.

The government has just launched a consultation on setting a code of practice for companies and organisations running offset schemes.

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Giraffe Man
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Carbon trading complacency confirmed by Times article

22.02.2007 12:06

An article in the Times Newspaper's, Times2 suppliment (21st Feb 2007, p19), confirms the notion that carbon offsetting can have the effect of neutralising anxiety over the consumption of Hydocarbons. The article is an interview with the people who are setting up a new airline called SilverJet, which is mentioned in the Rising Tide press release. The airline's founder, Lawrence Hunt, is quoted as saying "We'll also will be the world's first carbon-neutral airline. The fare will include an amount to offset our emissions. Airlines produce a huge amount of of pollution and we have to act responsibly".

Silverjet's business is unusual as they plan to fly only business class passengers, who can be picked up initially by "chauffeur or helecopter". Its first flights will be between Luton and New York, tickets will cost £999, and there will be only a 100 passengers on board.

It all sounds carbon heavy. There are a number of problems plainly visible in the carbon offset approach. The poorer countries can be seen as places to plant forests, but who monitors the quality and social impact of this planting? I also seems just plain unfair as a concept that a few people in the rich world burn huge quanitities of hydrocarbons and live a poluting lifestyle, while others scratch around in Carbon Offsets Lands. I am unclear on the details but I believe there have been a number of disasters where forests planted to offset carbon emissions have died. Also that they have been planted on indigenous lands.

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Hide the following 6 comments

about time

21.02.2007 19:12

sick of all this greewash shit. well done people.

about time

Well Done

21.02.2007 20:04

great action today and seems to have got a fair bit of coverage. Creative and with a point

Strategically,it would be worth think about submitting stuff in person to the committee if possible, even if only to suubmit your given reply as an official statement as it unlikely that anyone sitting in front of it actually questions their legitimacy i the first place. A bit like engaging with mainstream media, its unlikely to bring revoltionary changes and best to expect little but in some way it holds to whole process of the committee up to a light, and have it recorded for posterity

keep it up guys and gals

mail e-mail: jack whites branch - per capacity
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Hooray for useless actions

22.02.2007 14:34

It's hard to imagine a more misdirected protest that this. Of all of the problems leading to or responsible for climate change, carbon offsets aren't even on this list. At worst they are ineffective -- meaning that they are benign -- and at best they actually reduce emissions and heighten awareness of climate change. The notion that they are somehow responsible for climate change is absurd when you realize what a vanishingly small industry this is. I've never seen a protest that more deeply misses the point.

Tim N.

Six Go Searching for the Heart of the Carbon Neutral Con

23.02.2007 12:52

...what happened when a small group of intrepid aficionados of climate justice occupied the Carbon Neutral Company offices, London, 21.2.07

A good day was had by those three of us who walked into the Carbon Neutral Company (CNC) at 9.30am, deciding to dispense with duplicity and say we were from London Rising Tide. Having signed in, we decided one of the two boardrooms in the spanky new ‘King’s Cross is very up-and-coming-don’t you-know’ offices would do the trick, and quickly barricaded ourselves inside with the boardroom table and chairs. Actually it took a while for them to work out what we were actually doing – they might have wondered why we had moved the table and were drawing big words in felt pen on the flip chart paper, but that didn’t automatically spell out the words ‘office occupation’ to them. ‘Weird kindergarten types’ maybe, but ‘protest’, no. (The words eventually spelt out the slogan ‘Carbon “offset” = climate upset’, which we stuck to the windows facing down on the insanely busy street below, where our three friends below had a banner fiendishly bearing the exact same slogan, and were busy symbolically sweeping coal under carpet for a Swedish TV crew and anyone else who was intrigued.)

Back upstairs, we spent the day drawing more big slogans (‘Carbon Neutral Con’ being one), ringing the press, playing the blues on the harmonica, throwing executive stressballs at eachother, talking over the issues, sleeping, and chatting to the CNC CEO who subsequently told employees that we had refused to talk to him, when in fact he had declined our invitation of a reasoned discourse, albeit through the glass of our barricaded door. (Why is it that people like that always seem to think that the offer of a meeting in the boardroom where we get to sit with the grown-ups and maybe even eat some of their biscuits while outlining our concerns is going to result in anything other than yet more prevarication and empty greasy promises of a fruitful working relationship to come in the future? And why would the world outside have any interest whatsoever in the news that yet another campaigning group has been coaxed in from the icy streets to join together in mutually beneficial partnership with another bunch of bemusing-statistic-spouting besuited lunatics who claim that markets are going to dig us out of the climate crisis. Phew. Short version: watch out if you gget invited into the cosy offices of the dark forces, boys and girls, unless you want to end up on the boss’s knee.)

When the police arrived, one asked with dark jocularity if the one of us who was locked on by the neck to the door-blockading-table had any life insurance. But then they went away having said it was unlawful but not illegal and that it was a civil matter, leaving us to enjoy the tranquil drowse-making summer sunshine until we decided to make a move at 4.15pm, while the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change, run by the CNC, to which we had declined the opportunity to make a presentation, was still in session, with the Women’s Institute taking our place alongside Friends of the Earth and Stop Climate Chaos. (See the accompanying press release for our take on turning down the invite.)

We had been harbouring a stray piece of coal all day, and so, once we had tidied up after ourselves and pulled the table from the door, we presented it to the (extremely helpful) receptionist along with a note reading ‘Offset this (please)’. Actually, on reflection I think it should have read ‘Offset this (cannot be done)’ or somesuch similar. But never mind, we were free, or free at least after I had scampered to the open plan office and said to the underwhelmed assembled ‘Goodbye…and by the way, please find a better way to save the planet, because this method ain’t working’, (at least I hope that’s what I said. We'd been discussing through the day about what effect our action might have been having on the employees working in their open-pan office behind one of our boardroom walls. The indications that we could glean were that we had upset them mightily, and who wouldn't be upset by a group of outsiders wandering in with a message that what the company is doing is doing the opposite of helping the climate heal. We tried to make it clear that our critique was of the company - not to mention capitalism itself - but still it can't be a hundred laughs to have us lot saying that the morality of offsetting is deeply flawed.)

And then, with an apology to the man at the desk who we signed in with, (he seemed relaxed about it, fortunately,) we really were free. Free to enjoy the bourgeois delights of this teeming metropolis, free to accept a free lobotomy (sorry, I mean ‘London Lite’) from an overworked giver-outer chasing a quota, free to enjoy a rush-inspiring throwaway-cupped smoothie in a caff down the street, free to trundle home to a warm house and immediate access to the wonders of the www. Yes, free to acknowledge how bedded-in we are to this system built on exploitation and injustice, topped off with a wholesome-looking but totally toxic layer of bullshit and greenwash. Hypocrites? Probably. In that case, how about ‘hypocrites who helped strip away that toxic layer just for a millisecond and let some real daylight flood into the debate’? Definitely. And I feel really good about that.

Coal Delivery Man

Much bigger problems

28.03.2007 15:12

I am inclined to agree with Tim N that this action pretty much misses the point. There are much, much bigger and much, much worse things going on that the eco-bunnies (however well meaning) are totally missing.

Here's one. 70% of the CERs (Certified Emissions Reductions) approved by the UNFCCC to date under the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) of the Kyoto Protocol are based on suppression of industrial emissions of HFC-23 (trifluoromethane). These arise mainly from the manufacture of HCFC-22, a mild ozone destroyer and greenhouse gas with GWP of 1500 - which is not listed under the KP Annex A and so does not count. HCFC-22 is a gas used as refrigerant in air conditioners etc, but perfectly good alternatives exist.

As a result the manufacture of HCFC-22 is being subsidised by carbon trading designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, so that the HFC-23 can be cleaned up, and the shift to alternative refrigerant gases like hydrocarbons, CO2 etc is being discouraged as a result of this ~ 1 billion dollar subsidy.

The whole thing is a racket - but a big and serious one. Carbon trading could potentially bring benefits to developing countries with flows of finance for low-carbon development etc, but this potential is now being massively undermined by the HFC-23 racket.

So, if you guys want to invade offices, how about invading the offices of some of the companies responsible for this!

By contrast CNC is basically part of the solution, if a small part.

Oliver Tickell
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

Not useless to protest against misleading solutions such as carbon offsets

23.04.2007 09:45

Tim wrote : "At worst [carbon offsets] are ineffective -- meaning that they are benign". Well... if they are ineffective, this means they don't deliver effective reductions. If they don't, then they're not offsetting the GHG emissions they are supposed to offset. So we have real emissions on the one hand, and fake offsets on the other hand. I would not say this is a "benign" problem. That is why targeting carbon offsets and carbon trade does not miss the point : these are not effective tools to tackle climate change.


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