10 July 2013

Uncontroversial carbon offsetting

A lot has been written about carbon offsetting over the last few years (rather than rehash the arguments, a comprehensive critique can be found here) needless to say any industry that was worth an estimated $576 Million in 2011 (1) will be attractive to the slickest of snake oil salesmen.

To many, offsets appear  to be more a salve to our conscience than a functioning response to the problem. As Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research put it;

Offsetting is a dangerous delaying technique because it helps us avoid tackling the task [of dealing with climate change]… It helps us sleep well at night when we shouldn’t sleep well at night” (2).

However I do believe that a 'Transitiony' response to offsetting focused on the individual and local environment, rather than some pay-to-forget business, could go some way to negate the little unavoidable carbon expenditures of everyday life.

Take for example-

the eminently recyclable aluminium cans discarded on the street, that the  council collect up  with all the other rubbish to go to landfill. Recycling these otherwise binned cans would then save 130g co2 per can by another not having to be produced from virgin material. This doesn't sound like a lot but its enough for 0.6 miles in an average small car.

Want to fly to New York? That will be 9000 cans first. (picture wikipedia)

  1. Smith, K (2007) 'The Carbon neutral myth – Offset indulgences for your climate sins' Carbon Trade Watch.

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought that carbon offsetting is mere 'buck passing'- leaving the problem for someone else to sort out. Incidentally, anyone wanting to forage for cans (rather than cherries!) might do well to visit Acton Lane, where a treasure trove awaits them!