Posted by keith on October 24th, 2008
Question: When a media company decides they will start a campaign against greenwashing, but still has a few chinks in their armour, does that invalidate their campaign?
I’m not 100% sure of the answer, but I’m going to give The Guardian the benefit of the doubt, given that they have an impressive track record in environmental reporting (probably unrivalled in the mass-media) and have consistently provided a voice to (almost) the entire range of environmental opinions in a representative manner. Sadly, being representative means that the few voices calling for a removal of Industrial Civilization are not heard; but I think that will also change soon.
So, it is with a small fanfare, and a smile on my face that The Unsuitablog welcomes The Guardian into the Anti-Greenwashing frey: they have launched a new Thursday column which started by laying into a subject that I had meant to cover some time ago – “green” electricity tariffs.
Most of us are not foolish enough to suppose that our electricity supplier specially packages up “green energy” for us, and shoves it down the wires. We just get regular electricity, of course. But most of us would suppose that if we pay a green tariff, someone somewhere generates more renewable energy – and burns less fossil fuel – than they would if we hadn’t done our bit for the environment.
But no. In fact, we are usually subsidising the power companies to do what they are required by law to do already. Worse, despite us paying through our green noses, they still can’t meet their targets. Then they rub our noses in it by selling what “green electricity” they do produce over and over again.
The writer of the column is Fred Pearce, author of “When The Rivers Run Dry” amongst other works, and long time popularist of environmental issues for New Scientist. In fact, his efforts at New Scientist have been remarkable in turning a once staid and non-reflective journal into one that reflects the issues of the day in a frank and honest way.
Let’s hope that The Guardian doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with greenwashing: especially the kind carried out by its advertisers – now that will be an interesting test of nerve.