It takes CO2 to tango / Columns / The Foreigner

It takes CO2 to tango. Do you want to fly to New York or Paris for the weekend, but the environmental consequences trouble your conscience? Many recommend that you buy 'carbon offsets' to make up for the fuel you burn in flying. Unfortunately, they do not really work. Carbon offsetting means that you pay a company or charity to act in a carbon friendly manner on your behalf. That might be planting trees, often in the developing world. Another example is supporting renewable energy projects. Many airlines permit you to pay for carbon offsetting when you purchase your ticket. But who monitors the projects that you pay for? Sometimes, non-native tree species are planted, messing up the ecosystem. Similarly, wind turbines and dams can cause more environmental harm if not managed carefully.

co2, carbonoffsetting,



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



Columns Article

LATEST:

It takes CO2 to tango

Published on Thursday, 3rd November, 2011 at 10:02 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

Do you want to fly to New York or Paris for the weekend, but the environmental consequences trouble your conscience? Many recommend that you buy 'carbon offsets' to make up for the fuel you burn in flying. Unfortunately, they do not really work.

Tango
Tango
Photo: Virginie Pont/Flickr


Carbon offsetting means that you pay a company or charity to act in a carbon friendly manner on your behalf. That might be planting trees, often in the developing world. Another example is supporting renewable energy projects. Many airlines permit you to pay for carbon offsetting when you purchase your ticket.

But who monitors the projects that you pay for? Sometimes, non-native tree species are planted, messing up the ecosystem. Similarly, wind turbines and dams can cause more environmental harm if not managed carefully.

One major criticism of carbon offsetting is that it favours the rich. If you can afford to pay for offsetting in order to sin by burning fossil fuels, then you do. Meanwhile, those who are less affluent are saddled with the burden of being environmentally unfriendly.

The website http://www.cheatneutral.com has lampooned the carbon offsetting industry. The joke is that if you cheat on your partner, you can pay for someone else to be celibate for the time that you cheated. That neutralises your cheating. If this sounds ridiculous, as it should, is carbon offsetting different?

There are several arguments in favour of carbon offsetting. The airlines like it because you continue to fly, and passengers like it because eases their conscience by trying to avoid too much environmental damage while doing what they want.

If we are truly interested in saving the environment, then we need to reduce our consumption. That includes using less fossil fuels.

Ultimately, the basic argument is that doing something is better than nothing. Nevertheless, doing nothing is actually better for carbon offsetting; it is better not to fly.

Compared to environmental devastation, is one less weekend in New York or Paris really so bad?

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Thursday, 3rd November, 2011 at 10:02 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: co2, carbonoffsetting, .





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!