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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Also on the subject of religion.

Well, it's officially as good as a religious belief now, even though many of its believers like to think otherwise. Anyhow, one of the rituals of being a warming worrier is carbon credits and offsetting, and plenty of people have likened this to the granting of 'indulgences' in medieval Christianity. Going on a flight somewhere? Just pay this amount to and the carbon will be offset for you and you sip your Pinot at 36000 feet without the slightest trace of guilt. Going to slaughter all the men in a village somewhere before raping the women, killing them too, and burning the place to the ground? Just give this amount to the Church and you're off the hook while you hack people to bits. Indulgences weren't about prevention so much as extracting a financial penalty, and carbon offsets are the modern version. If you think carbon is a problem then sell your car and don't get on a fucking plane, simples. Even the more intellectually honest greenies are starting to be up front about this, with a green tour operator even going so far as to stop offering customers the chance to offset their emissions., a travel agent that specialises in responsible holidays, has announced that it will no longer give its customers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions.
Nothing to stop people buying them independently of course, but I'll give them credit for being up front about the reasons why they don't think it's a good idea.
“We believe that the travel industry’s priority must be to reduce carbon emissions, rather than to offset,” said Justin Francis, managing director of “Too often offsets are being used by the tourism industry in developed countries to justify growth plans on the basis that money will be donated to projects in developing countries. Global reduction targets will not be met this way.”
Francis said that holidaymakers should look to reduce their emissions by flying less, travelling by train or taking holidays closer to home, as well as making carbon reductions in other areas of our lifestyles.
“There is no hiding the fact that tourists will continue to want to visit destinations requiring a flight, and that tourism contributes to livelihoods, local economic development and the conservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. We will continue to offer a more responsible choice of overseas holiday so that when tourists do fly they can ‘make their holiday count’ by choosing a more responsible holiday.”
Fair play to you, mate, though I'm not so sure it's a great business move. If you're successful in persuading your customers they ought to stop being your customers. It sounds a bit like Thomas Cook suggesting that people don't put up with the hell of flying and spend two weeks at home playing Monopoly each summer. I know you talk about holidaying at home or without going long haul but who needs a travel agent to sort out a holiday in Cornwall? I admire your honesty, Justin, but don't be surprised if your staff are all secretly job hunting right now.

Incidentally, the same article quotes Friends of the Earth as saying offsetting creates "... a ‘medieval pardon’ for us to carry on behaving in the same way (or worse).” Sooner or later I was bound to agree with them again on something.


Bill Sticker said...

Have you seen the Friends of the Earth piece on 'The ugly truth about biofuels'?

The pennies are dropping.

Angry Exile said...

No, hadn't seen that till you pointed it out, and I'm astonished. Not only has someone at FoE noticed the elephant in that particular room but they've got a sense of humour. For what it's worth I'm not anti-biofuels as such but it does seem crazy to hack down a forest or use a food source to produce them. The Yanks are producing ethanol from corn of all things, just to satisfy green fears about carbon that are far from proven and looking shakier. If you're going to produce ethanol at all why not make it easier and use sugar? I suspect money, probably in the form of farming subsidies, may be involved.

Angry Exile said...

Incidentally, I wonder if anyone at Friends of the Earth has ever considered whether or not the Earth is willing to be friends with them, or if being 6 million trillion tons of rock means it doesn't have an opinion one way or the other. I mean, I try to look after my house and to avoid damaging it, but I wouldn't start an organisation that claimed to be friends with it.

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