The protestors are colourfully dressed as red herrings to symbolise the fact that carbon offset schemes are corrupting the climate change debate, taking attention away from effective responses to the threat of climate change and conning the general public. Their aim is to disrupt the day-to-day running of the offices and to raise awarness about the ineffectiveness of carbon-offset schemes – especially among well meaning office staff who may not realize the damage their work is doing to the fight to prevent runaway global warming.
Carbon offsetting doesn’t work because:
We cannot know what emissions have been avoided as a result of renewable energy projects – any hypotheses are guesswork. Therefore we cannot possibly calculate how much it would cost us to buy those savings – offset companies are selling us nothing but hot air.
Many schemes for ‘neutralising’ our emissions – such as tree planting – have been completely discredited, being scientifically illiterate and based on invented savings and . Yet companies such as Climate Care and Carbon Neutral continue to use them.
Real offsets would have to save the same amount of carbon within the same time frame as it is released. Trees are assumed by the offset companies themselves to take at least 99 years to absorb the carbon emitted in a 2 hour flight. Even if it did work, it would be like filling a bathtub with a bucket while trying to empty it with a thimble; the bath will soon overflow.
Most techno-fix offset schemes are based in the developing world. Even if every poor nation on the planet went carbon-free today, industrialised nations would still have to slash our carbon emissions if we are to have any hope of preventing catastrophic climate change. Emissions from developing nations are not the problem.
“Carbon offset companies are selling well-intentioned consumers a dangerous peace of mind by pretending that they can make emissions disappear” said Theo Middleton, one of the activists in the Climate Care office. “Climate Care and BA have teamed up to offer fliers a false opportunity to buy their way out of their responsibility to the climate.”
“Carbon offsets are ineffective, based on dubious science and lead people to believe they
are helping when they are not – the concept and the practice are a con,” said Sophie Nathan, who is taking part in the Carbon Neutral Company invasion. “Real climate action involves taking direct responsibility for personal emissions levels as well as engaging in
political organisation for wider change.”
Notes for Editors
Carbon offset companies have been on the receiving end of a great deal of negative publicity in the last year. This is the second time in 2007 that the Carbon Neutral Company has had its offices occupied by environmental activists.Both companies were also negatively portrayed in a recent Channel 4 documentary on the offsets industry
and in a report put out earlier in the year by the Amsterdam-based think tank, the Transnational Institute. New Internationalist magazine focused on the debate in July last year, exposing ineffective and damaging offset methods for fighting climate change.
This is big business - British Airways reported a £620m pre-tax profit for the year ending March 2006, a 20 per cent increase on the previous year, despite the increase in fuel costs during the period, and its short haul service moved into profit for the first time in a decade. This was a period of expansion and profitability as much for Climate Care as it was for British Airways. In July 2006, Climate Care’s David Wellington wrote that “in the past 10 to 12 months we have seen a 10-fold increase in sales,” and that 85 per cent of this growth was in “online sales for offsetting flight emissions”.
“BA Profits Up by 20%,” 24 May 2006, from the Business Travel
E Addkey, “Boom in Green Holidays as Ethical Travel Takes Off,”
The Guardian, 17 July 2006