Finally someone has come out and critizised carbon off-setting for the scam it is. As George Monbiot writes in today’s Guardian: “Rejoice! We have a way out. Our guilty consciences appeased, we can continue to fill up our SUVs and fly around the world without the least concern about our impact on the planet. How has this magic been arranged? By something called “carbon offsets”. You buy yourself a clean conscience by paying someone else to undo the harm you are causing”
Monbiot takes issue with schemes such as BP’s “target neutral” scheme, enabling customers to “neutralise the CO2 emissions caused by their driving”. The consequences of an entire year’s motoring can be discharged for just £20.
“It sounds great” writes Monbiot.”Without requiring any social or political change, and at a tiny cost to the consumer, the problem of climate change is solved. Having handed over a few quid, we can all sleep easy again”.
However there is a fundamental problem: “Even if, through carbon offset schemes carried out in developing countries, every poor nation on the planet became carbon-free, we would still have to cut most of the carbon we produce at home. Buying and selling carbon offsets is like pushing the food around on your plate to create the impression that you have eaten it”.
“Any scheme that persuades us we can carry on polluting delays the point at which we grasp the nettle of climate change and accept that our lives have to change. But we cannot afford to delay. The big cuts have to be made now, and the longer we leave it, the harder it will be to prevent runaway climate change from taking place. By selling us a clean conscience, the offset companies are undermining the necessary political battle to tackle climate change at home”.