The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for the 'Offsetting' Category

Greenloons: Ecotourism is the New Blindfold

Posted by keith on 13th September 2011

Now that the Unsuitablog is taking a more occasional view of ethical hypocrisy (short for, “I really don’t have the time for all this!”) it takes a very special email or advert to make it to the blog. Most of them end up in my junk folder, but some of them sneak into my inbox, which usually means I haven’t heard from the agency or company in question before. So imagine my delight when something from Greenloons popped up the other day, and made me angry all over, just like the early days when I wasn’t so innured from hypocrisy. It deserves to be published in its entirety:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eco Trailblazer Greenloons Guides Families to International Rainforests with Emphasis on Educational / Sustainable Vacations

Top Five Recommendations Span Globe for Certified Green Eco Adventures

Vienna, VA, Sept. 7 – Eco trailblazer Greenloons http://www.greenloons.com/ guides families to international rainforests that are inclusive of sustainable vacation opportunities. Its top five recommendations spanning the globe offer green eco adventures that are certified by leading third party sources.

Irene Lane, Greenloons founder, believes it’s never to early to introduce children to the “lungs of the planet”, the world’s rainforests covering less than two percent of the earth’s total surface area but are home to 50 percent of its plants and animals.

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

Greenloons top rainforest destinations for families include Costa Rica, Peru, Madagascar, Borneo and Australia.

Costa Rica – Rainforest Adventure focuses on Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula that protects such endangered species (showcased by a local guide) as jaguar, puma, crocodile, tapir, poison dart frog, scarlet macaw and harpy eagle. Local beaches are major nesting sites for several varieties of sea turtles. Roundtrip ground transfers are by private taxi from Puerto Jimenez served by daily flights from Costa Rica’s Tobias Bolaños International airport in San Jose. Packages are 5 days/4 nights starting at $690 per person with year-round open scheduling.

Peru – Exploring the Amazon Rainforest showcases the world’s largest tropical rainforest with the world’s second longest river, the Amazon. A motorized canoe down the Peruvian Amazon in the Tambopata National Reserve can reveal, among other wildlife, giant otters. The Tambopata Research Center has exclusive access to untouched Amazonian forests; a local naturalist introduces ongoing projects that include visiting the world’s largest macaw clay lick. Five day/4 night trips for $999 per person depart year-round with flexible, open scheduling.

Madagascar
– Madagascar Experience encompasses an eco-system so isolated and unusual that scientists call it “the eighth continent.” The rainforests of the Atsinanana encompass six national parks that protect the large Indri lemur, tenrec, fanaloka and aye-aye. The ancient town of Antsirable transitions guests around volcanic lakes from upland rainforests to the semi-arid landscape of Isalo. The 10 day/9 night packages start at $1599 with monthly scheduled departures year-round.

Borneo – Borneo Family Adventure includes village home stays at Kinabatangan Jungle Camp and rainforest camping in tropical Sabah, part of the rainforests of Asia stretching from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. In addition to spotting macaques, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and perhaps wild orangutans, guests visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and meet orphaned orangutans. Elevenday/10 night trips start at $1375 for adults with departures in January, April, July, August, October and December.

Australia – Fraser Island & Reef Experience opens up the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island World Heritage Site, the only place in the world where along Yidney Rainforest trails and growing on sand dunes at high elevations are towering pines, rainforest trees with giant girths, rare and ancient giant ferns, eucalypt forests, lemon-scented swamp vegetation and dwarfed heathland shrubs covered in a profusion of flowers. On the water side in addition to snorkeling guests may see shipwrecks, sharks, dolphins and manta rays at Indian Head. Six day/5 night trips are offered year-round. Call Greenloons for pricing (703.752.6270).

About Greenloons:

Greenloons (http://www.greenloons.com/) guides families to travel experiences managed by certified third-party suppliers engaged in eco- and sustainable tourism. Lane founded Greenloons in 2010 for the global community of nature enthusiasts and wildlife conservationists interested in accessing detailed and reliable information about responsible, sustainable and certified ecotourism travel vacations both in the US and abroad.

Greenloons is a first-of-its-kind online resource aimed at answering the growing need for accredited eco-tours and sustainable holiday travel in the tourism industry. Greenloons.com provides ecotourism education, news, comparable certified ecotour and volunteer conservation program listings, tour reviews and booking services, plus a forum for the community to share its personal vacation stories and tips for establishing ecotourism in any corner of the world.

# # #

For photos and/or more information on how Greenloons is making a difference please contact:

Sara Widness / 802-234-6704 / sara@widnesspr.com
Dave Wiggins / 303-554-8821 / dave@travelnewssource.com
Website and Portfolio of Past Releases: http://www.travelnewssource.com/
Follow Widness & Wiggins PR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BoulderDave

Greenloons Company Contact:
Irene Lane / 703.752.6270 / irene@greenloons.com / http://www.greenloons.com/

Now, forgive me if I’m being stupid, but I had a lovely trip to the isle of Skye recently, which consisted of a 1 hour bus journey followed by about 7 hours on a couple of trains and a 30 minute ferry. I walked to the camp site. The environment in which I was camping, with a few others, and learning some useful bushcraft skills to boot, was beautiful. The journey was equally stunning. The total distance travelled: about 250 miles, which I thought was about far enough. Recently I wrote an article on The Earth Blog called, “Finding My Limit” which emphasised the importance of searching out and making the most of that which is close to you.

Such inconsequential places, and such seemingly trivial reasons to go there. Just a few words, a bite to eat, a passing smile, a friendship reignited, a love on fire. We ignore these local places because the civilized world insists that our boundaries are distant, we can achieve anything, we have no limits. The Diaspora of our mechanised, electrical, money-soaked commercial excesses has, indeed, reached round so far it hits itself on the back, and screeches past to take another lap of the little blue-green dot we live on. In universal terms Earth is a dot. In human terms it is all we can ever intimately know as a species, and as I look out of my window I can see – what? – a few hundred metres; a couple of miles if I get up high.

Why go further when what really make our days go round are those apparently inconsequential dealings with the things that are so close to us? Yet we choose to ignore them because there is a bigger world out there. I refuse to accept that and choose the places I can walk to, run through and, if I really want to open my mind up, cycle there and back. That is my limit; all I can really know, and love, and nurture.

Ecotourism is a contradiction. “Tourism” is about travel for travel’s sake – the culturally imposed “need” to explore at leisure simply because something is there. “Eco” implies ecology and the tight network within which all life is entwined. The two simply cannot go together, except in the minds of a capitalist, bent on making us believe you can have it all.

Let’s look at the quotation from Irene Lane again:

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

The mass of contradictions in this statement is mind-boggling. Irene is talking about places thousands of miles away, yet she talks about the need to “connect…in a sustainable manner”. Is she implying that we can only make deep connections with places that are in exotic locations – for that is what the sales pitch seems to be implying? And does she really expect us to believe that a composting toilet and a faux-native tour justify the burning of hundreds of gallons of aviation fuel and diesel. And what about the “Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year”? This sounds like a “see it before it’s gone” appeal.

Am I being too cynical?

Well, let’s look at a quotation from their website to check my cynicism out:

“We know that it is impossible to have a 100% carbon-offset vacation – we are humans after all!”

This is in the context of explaining how carbon offsets are used to make the travel distances no problem at all, apart from the few percent left over because “we are humans after all!” Sorry? No one forced you to travel those thousands of miles across oceans and continents. No one but civilized humans would do that. And that’s the real kicker: Irene Lane is conflating the destructive habits of civilized humanity to the whole of the human race. We do not push crap into the atmosphere because we are human; we push crap into the atmosphere because we are civilized humans, brainwashed by people like Irene Lane into thinking that it’s ok to go to Borneo, Madagascar, Australia and even Antarctica for our “eco” vacations.

The saddest irony of all is loons, an order of birds chosen to represent a migratory person that lives lightly on the land, require a pristine, food-rich marine environment to survive. The same environments that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak devastated in July 2011, and the Exxon Valdez crash coated in a thick blanket of oil in March 1989. Now what was that oil being drilled for and transported I wonder?

Posted in Adverts, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting | 3 Comments »

BBC Radio Uses Industry Funded “Expert” for Balanced View on CCS

Posted by keith on 28th October 2010

I like the BBC. It manages to do a very difficult job being the national, public-funded broadcaster of the UK, while at the same time generally refusing to kow-tow to the demands of the state and it’s corporate owners. On the other hand there is a lot to criticise the BBC for, in particular its insistance that economic growth is a good thing, and that Strictly Come Dancing / The Apprentice contestants qualify as subjects for the news.

Sometimes, though, the BBC does stupid things just because it fails to research something properly. Take today’s episode of the really quite interesting radio programme, Material World, which you can listen to for the next week by clicking on the link below (the question is raised about 25 minutes in):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vhg9y

The item in question concerned carbon capture and storage, which had been correctly identified by a listener as a commercial failure waiting to happen, to which everyone involved in opposing the industrial system would no doubt add is just another way of keeping the machine of destruction running.

The respondant was Professor R. Stuart Haszeldine, announced as Professor of Carbon Capture & Storage at Edinburgh University. He responded that although there were potential losses in energy, big improvements would be made in the future. The technology was certainly not commercially problematic.

What the BBC failed to point out was that Professor Haszeldine’s full title is Scottish Power Professor of Carbon Capture & Storage, Edinburgh University: just two more words, but two words that reveal a huge conflict of interest. A quick internet search uncovers this recent announcement by Scottish Power:

ScottishPower Sponsors UK’s First Academic Alliance to Focus on Carbon Capture and Storage

9 September 2010

ScottishPower has announced its sponsorship of the UK’s first alliance between industry and academia to focus specifically on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is the ground-breaking technology designed to remove CO2 from the exhaust gasses at fossil fuelled power stations. This will be known as the ScottishPower Academic Alliance, SPAA.

SPAA has been designed to match the needs of the UK’s fast developing CCS industry with the research capacity of some of the country’s leading academics from Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh. It will focus specifically on technical innovation around the capture and offshore storage of CO2, the policy and regulatory aspects of CCS and look at what the UK needs to do to capitalise on the commercial opportunities the technology offers – especially in developing a national skills capacity.

ScottishPower is investing almost GBP5 million over the next five years which will fund up to 12 full-time researchers working at University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London. ScottishPower will seek to leverage this funding through further contributions from Government and international sponsors which it hopes will consolidate the UK’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence for this embryonic industry.

Nick Horler, ScottishPower’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a terrific step forward for ScottishPower and will help us in our ambitions to make CCS a reality in the UK by 2014. I am enormously proud to be associated with the work of some of the world’s leading authorities on CCS. Their input will be vital to improve our understanding of this essential technology and help us to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate change.”

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, ScottishPower Chair of CCS at University of Edinburgh, said: “Developing a CCS industry in the UK will capitalise on our established offshore and engineering expertise and make a significant contribution to the economy of the country, creating new jobs and skills. I am pleased to be building on the CCS research results the University of Edinburgh has already achieved with ScottishPower, and to welcome Imperial College London as partners. The expertise of all three organisations will help to maintain the UK’s leading position in CCS.”

Thanks for that unbiased and balanced opinion on CCS, Stuart; and thanks BBC for that superb boost to Scottish Power’s CCS efforts – truly an excellent investment on the part of the energy industry…

UPDATE: As a result of a formal complaint that I made (and possibly this article) the text accompanying the podcast has been amended to read: “…and Professor Stuart Haszeldine, whose chair at Edinburgh University is supported by Scottish Power for research into carbon capture and storage.” I suspect this kind of oversight will not happen that often now.

Posted in Funding, Media Hypocrisy, Offsetting | No Comments »

BHP Billiton: New Chair, Same Old Story

Posted by keith on 22nd October 2010

From the wonderful London Mining Network comes this report of the BHP Billiton. I have emphasised key phrases that demonstrate the hypocrisy of one of the most destructive companies ever to grace planet Earth.

At today’s London AGM of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, new company chair Jac Nasser and CEO Marius Kloppers spoke at length about climate change. They explained that the company fully accepts the science and believes that greenhouse gas emissions need to be limited so that the increase in average atmospheric temperatures can be held at two degrees above the pre-industrial average.

But BHP Billiton believes that it is for society and governments to decide on the way forward. Meanwhile it will continue with its plans to increase production of coal, oil and gas in the hope that currently unavailable technical solutions might one day help limit the effects of burning them. Jac Nasser did not rule out future involvement in the massively destructive and controversial tar sands exploitation in Canada or deep sea oil drilling in the Arctic.

Part of the solution to climate change, in the company’s view, is increased reliance on nuclear energy – unsurprising, given its investment in uranium mining expansion in Australia, expansion opposed by Aboriginal communities in both South and Western Australia.

Not that the company wishes to go too far towards accepting Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Marius Kloppers explained that accepting the right to Free Prior Informed Consent as envisaged in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could violate the terms of company leases if it conflicted with national governments’ views on Indigenous rights. The company believes only national governments have the right to decide on mineral development.*

Siti Maimunah of JATAM, the Indonesian mining advocacy network, drew attention to the destructive impacts of existing opencast coal mining in Kalimantan (Borneo) and called for BHP Billiton to cancel its plans to begin coal mining in Central Kalimantan. She accused the company of trying to change the boundaries of protected forests to enable it to mine in areas currently off-limits. Both Nasser and Kloppers assured her that the company had not attempted to change the boundaries of protected forest areas and that the company would not begin opencast mining within protected forests.

Siti Maimunah accused the company of allowing its subsidiaries to continue exploring in an area where permission had been withdrawn. Marius Kloppers said that he was unaware of this; Siti Maimunah pointed out that the Indonesian Department for Forestry had made the information public in March 2009.

What the company would not do was commit to pulling out of Kalimantan: it refuses to take no for an answer.

Communities removed for mine expansion around the company’s 33% owned Cerrejon Coal mine in Colombia complained of the continuing slow pace of progress in implementing relocation agreements. The mine workers’ union sent a statement in which it said that an increasing number of workers are suffering work-related illnesses and the company is failing to assist them adequately, while the six thousand sub-contracted workers at the mine are denied union rights. Jac Nasser said the company would investigate the complaints and continue to work with Cerrejon Coal to improve its performance.

Questioned on the company’s plans to buy Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Jac Nasser claimed it was too early in the negotiations to comment and so pleaded ignorance of the details of Potash Corp’s involvement in phosphates mining in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Ken Ritchie of the Western Sahara Campaign pointed out that buying phosphates from an illegally occupied country is itself against international law and would be in violation of United Nations resolutions. Nasser said that the company was still conducting its ‘due diligence’ on Potash Corp and would avoid violating its own business principles.

BHP Billiton sees itself as indispensable to the prosperity of the world. Millions of the world’s poor are apparently relying on it to help them embrace the urbanised life of high consumption which it believes to be their destiny. Those who have a different view – like Indigenous communities in Kalimantan or small farmers in Colombia – have to be moved out of the way. BHP Billiton plans to continue mining, burning and irradiating its way towards a vision of the future that its board finds inspiring and which many of its critics reject as apocalyptic.

A set of case studies related to the behaviour of BHP Billiton, entitled “BHP Billiton 2009-10 – other sides to the story: case studies questioning the company’s record on human rights, transparency and ecological justice”, can be downloaded via this link (MS Word Doc)

*Note: National governments formalise corporate policy.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

Greenwashing In The BBC [Guest Article]

Posted by keith on 13th August 2010

Greenwashing has a habit of making it into every facet of our society, not just from the obvious sources such as the PR offices of polluting corporations, but also for example from major charities and in the media. A recent example I came across is a blog post from last October by the BBC’s ‘Ethical Man’ Jason Rowlatt, entitled “Is the green movement too radical?”.

In his article the main thrust of his argument is that the ‘green movement’ should accept carbon markets as the solution to limiting emissions, rather than more systematic changes involving the basis of the economy. Accepting the need to cut emissions, he asks:

So how can we find ways to persuade people to change their behaviour? Most economists believe the most powerful instrument for changing behaviour is the market…Economists say we need some system of “carbon pricing”.

Note how he talks about economists – no criticism or balance (that the BBC is meant to be so famous for) about what they say, just a simple statement of what they think as fact. ‘Greens’ on the other hand are presented as sceptics and destructive (note the reference to smashing capitalism, and repeated reference to the ‘Greens’), and their barely presented argument dismissed:

It is not a policy that is likely to engage most mainstream politicians – or for that matter – ordinary people. What is more, spurning market solutions means ignoring one of the most powerful mechanisms for changing behaviour ever developed.

Although he is right that systemic changes are less popular to our politicians and to people wanting to continue with their modern lifestyles, the latter statement is backed up by no evidence or argument, it is simply presented as fact. It is telling that he uses the claim that “With just six years left, surely we should use all the weapons in our armoury to get change” in order to justify only using the carbon market. Perhaps this reflects his blog’s focus on “what individuals can do to tackle climate change” – focusing on our own individual actions rather than those of the institutions who cause most of the damage.

Neither does Jason mention that Europe’s own carbon trading system (ETS) not only failed to reduce emissions, as too many permits were issued to corporations by our leaders for free, fluctuating prices meant the polluters actually made more money than they would have done otherwise – in effect, carbon trading paid them to pollute more. As a result of these inherent shortcomings, carbon trading is even more unrealistic as a method of limiting emissions than the more “radical” solutions, such as systemic changes to the way society and the economy operates, that the Ethical Man dismisses. More information on carbon trading can be found at http://www.carbontradewatch.org/, and in the ‘zine “The Carbon Supermarket”.

What is most revealing about this case though is that an article clearly biased towards the politically favoured solution of carbon trading is being published by a supposedly neutral media organisation. Although this is his personal blog, it is still hosted by the BBC, and it would be surprising if the BBC allowed “radical” greens to operate in the same way. It wouldn’t therefore be surprising that this sort of bias didn’t slip into their more mainstream productions too, especially as Jason is the BBC’s in-house reporter on climate change and looking at his record of posts (for example including “Is the green movement bad for the environment?” and “Greens on trial” which both make much the same points again). Indeed, Media Lens reports on the extent to which this occurs in the mainstream media.

A key player in the ensuing demolition of the Green movement – which is what happened – is the mass media, the means by which environmental concerns might have reached and mobilised a mass audience. The media is part of the same corporate system, one that naturally protects traditional centres of power and short-term profits against rational challenges of exactly the kind Greens had in mind. Thus, despite all the evidence, Greens and progressives have continued to be ignored, marginalised and vilified.

This is yet another example showing that major media organisations such as the BBC are as implicit in greenwashing and preserving the status quo as the corporations environmentalists normally target. Greenwash has seeped throughout the establishment and contaminated it – we must see through the organisations we were brought up to trust if we are to move beyond the status quo that they form a part of.

This article was written for The Unsuitablog by the environmental activist and writer, David McKay.

Posted in Media Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Should Know Better, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Hackers Shut Down EU Carbon-Trading Website [From The Guardian]

Posted by keith on 28th July 2010

Sorry for all the reposts recently, but it’s been a very busy time at Unsuitablog HQ, and I also can’t top this bit of news from The Guardian covering an excellent example of Undermining. Emissions Trading, like all forms of offsetting, is a method of ensuring that the industrial system can keep operating.

Anti-carbon trading activists shut down the website of the European Climate Exchange (ECX), over the weekend, replacing the site with a spoof page lampooning the industry.

The website of the London-based carbon credit trading platform was hacked at close to midnight on Friday and showed the spoof homepage for around 22 hours. It then took technical staff another day to restore the official homepage.

Instead of its normal rolling ticker data listing bids for carbon credit futures, the ECX website blared: “Super promo – climate on sale: Guaranteed profit!”

Explaining the “carbon trade scam”, the spoof site decried how the EU’s flagship environmental policy is “susceptible to corporate lobbying,” offers industry “licences to pollute so they can continue business-as-usual,” and “generates outrageous profits for big industry polluters, investors in fraudulent offset projects [and] opportunist traders.”

On Saturday, shortly after the ECX website went down, activists announced their handiwork on a number of environmental discussion groups, saying: “In a public act of digital direct action, the ECX website was taken offline and replaced with our message in an effort to try to raise awareness about carbon trading as a dangerous false solution to the climate crisis.”

One of the activists responsible, from the online activist group, Decocidio, told the Guardian: “We feel the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is not well understood by the general public or even within the environmental movement. It is a major fraud touted by the mainstream media, politics, industry and lobbyists as the main solution.” The group is part of Earth First, a radical environmental protest organisation.

“Attempting to cause as much inconvenience, economical loss and image damage as possible, we deliberately tried to maximise the virtual damage,” said the hacker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman for the European Climate Exchange, Kelly Loeffler, said: “We have no comment relating to the incident as there is nothing to report publicly.”

The exchange was also targeted by activists from Climate Camp last summer. They dubbed it a “climate change casino”.

Damien Morris, of Sandbag, a self-described “critical friend” of the EU ETS said: “It’s very unfortunate that this sort of infighting over emissions trading has developed within the environmental movement, especially on the radical end,” he said. “There seems to be a large grassroots following and public presence of these sorts of ideas, but not at the more technical and realistic, solutions-focussed part of the movement.”

“There is certainly a place for criticism of the ETS, but the problem with those who disagree with carbon trading is that they oppose it in principle, not in practice. It’s a good idea when done properly. There are many problems with the ETS, but there is a clear pathway as to how it can be made more effective and robust.”

The weasel words of Sandbag reflect their mainstream credentials; clearly Earth First! and Decocidio are so far outside their awareness bubble that anyone who opposes emissions trading must have some kind of theoretical issue, rather than the far more obvious fact that it’s all part of the ecocidal global economy

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Good News!, Offsetting, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage | No Comments »

Taking A Break, So Here’s Someone Else’s Stuff

Posted by keith on 16th April 2010

We’ve been enjoying the sunshine (yes, wonderful sunshine) of North Wales for the past week and now we’re moving house, so The Unsuitablog has had to take a back seat for the time being. Don’t worry, we will be back soon, but to tide you over is the latest from the RANVideo YouTube channel, which it looks as though is well worth visiting on a regular basis.

Love this week’s take on the Nopenhagen Accord (not to be confused with the similar sounding, and equally execrable Copenhagen Communique), and look forward to more biting stuff…

See you soon.

Keith

Posted in Exposure, Government Policies, Offsetting, Political Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

Tesco Goes “Green” – Continues To Sell Crap To The Masses

Posted by keith on 3rd February 2010

This is classic greenwash. Vintage greenwash, in fact.

Tesco, the British supermarket giant headed by Sir Terry Leahy (knighted for services to corporate power), has announced that one of their 2,360 stores is to become carbon neutral. I assume, obviously, that this carbon neutrality includes the things they sell in the store, rather than just the operational carbon, otherwise you could be excused for thinking that – heaven forbid – this is a PR stunt.

The story is taken up by Julia Finch in The Guardian, who opens with a cracking statistic…

Supermarket group Tesco, which pumps out some four million tonnes of carbon a year, today opened its first zero carbon store as part of its bid to be a carbon ­neutral company by 2050.

The shop, in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, is timber-framed rather than steel, and uses skylights and sun pipes to cut lighting costs. It also has a combined heat and power plant powered by renewable bio-fuels, exporting extra electricity back to the national grid. In addition the refrigerators – one of the biggest blackspots for food retailers trumpeting their green credentials – have doors to save energy and harmful HFC refrigerant gases have been replaced.

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: “It shows that you can dramatically alter how much carbon you use and life can go on”.

The new store, he said, “cost 30% more to build, but it uses 50% less energy, and with oil at $70 a barrel it is a business case in itself”.

To coincide with the Ramsey opening, the supermarket chain said it intended to spend more than £100m with green technology companies, although Leahy was unsure of the level of supermarket’s current spend on this.

Tesco has been at the forefront of the grocers’ race to be green. The UK’s biggest supermarket has provided £25m of funding for the University of Manchester to set up a sustainable consumption institute, and has a 10-point community plan, with pledges to increase local sourcing and to consult local communities in an attempt to be viewed as a good neighbour.

Apart from the obvious dissonance between Tesco’s 2,360 stores that rip the heart out of communities wherever they are located – and, believe me, they are not located in order to develop a harmonic relationship with any community – there is the small matter of what Tesco sells.

In 2009, Tesco had a turnover – essentially a measure of how much stuff they sell – of £59.4 billion, an increase of 15.1% on the previous year. Of that vast amount, £41.5 billion is from UK sales, with the remaining £18 billion accounted for by supermarkets in Thailand (614 stores), China (50 “hypermarkets”), Ireland (117), South Korea (280), Japan (137), Turkey (100), Poland (313) and the USA (113).

As the “green” store is in the UK, we should focus on Tesco’s activities there: so we see £28.5 billion coming from food retailing – what is considered the Core Business – and the bulk of the remainder from non-food retail (clothes, electrical goods, homeware etc).

If you live in the UK, I want you to go into a Tesco store and pick ten items at random, both food and non-food, then try and find out where the items were manufactured, grown or otherwise produced. You’re going to have an interesting time with food because, like most food in supermarkets, the items contain a huge variety of different ingredients emanating from all across the globe: simplicity is not in the nature of mass food retailing. Fruit, vegetables and other single-source items will invariable be a mix of local (ish) and from much further away; but you can be assured that even “local” items will have been moved from one end of the country to the other a couple of times for warehousing and distribution before reaching the store.

Non-food items are made, basically, in China.

Tesco’s Carbon Disclosure (via http://www.cdproject.net) is interesting, to say the least, and it’s well worth repeating here:

8.1. Please indicate the category that describes the company, entities, or group for which Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions are reported.

Companies over which operational control is exercised.

8.2. Please state whether any parts of your business or sources of GHG emissions are excluded from your reporting boundary.

Production of goods, supplier transport, international freight, asset sites, waste recycling and disposal, employee commuting, customer transport, consumption and disposal of goods.

So while they are honest about their “direct” emissions, they completely ignore the thing that accounts for the bulk of Tesco’s emissions: the production and transportation of the things they sell.

The aforementioned four million tonnes of carbon dioxide is, large as it seems, only the tip of Terry’s toxic iceberg.

Why should this be a problem, given that the companies that make and transport the stuff should be disclosing and accounting for their emissions? Because Tesco is a huge company, and for the most part, if they did not exist to sell people overprocessed, long-haul, extraneous and unnecessary things that people would not buy were they not marketed by Tesco’s gigantic marketing machine, the emissions simply would not be produced. But, hey! They have a carbon neutral store, so that’s ok, isn’t it?

Tesco: every lie helps.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Promotions | No Comments »

Potential Murderers Of Amazonian Tribe Win Survival International Greenwashing Award

Posted by keith on 21st January 2010

Impinging upon an uncontacted tribe is, by any stretch of the imagination, culturally the most destructive thing it is possible to do: the tribe not only lose their landbase – the source of everything they need to live – but they become subject to foreign diseases to which they have no immunity, and their cultural identity becomes diluted, almost certain to be swallowed up by industrial civilization’s “growth at any cost” mentality. In short, if civilization impinges upon an uncontacted tribe, the tribe dies.

Survival International never let up in their efforts to prevent this kind of thing happening. Their “Greenwashing Award” may be symbolic, but it is a vital way to publicise the awful things that corporations and governments do in order to make money; just money, as though it is more important than life…

A Brazilian company bulldozing an uncontacted tribe’s land in Paraguay has won Survival’s ‘Greenwashing Award 2010’.

The company, Yaguarete Porá S.A., has won the award for ‘dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Indians’ forest as a noble gesture for conservation’, says Survival’s director Stephen Corry.

Yaguarete owns 78,549 hectares of forest that is part of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe’s ancestral territory. After satellite photos were published around the world revealing that it has destroyed thousands of hectares of the tribe’s forest, the company issued a press release announcing it intends to create a ‘nature reserve’ on its land.

But plans submitted by Yaguarete to Paraguay’s Environment Ministry reveal that the amount of ‘continuous forest’ in the reserve will be just 16,784 hectares out of the 78,549 hectares total, and the company in fact plans to convert around two thirds of the land to cattle ranching.

Some of the Totobiegosode have already been contacted and vehemently condemned the plans for the ‘reserve’, pointing out that it violates their rights under both Paraguayan and international law. The contacted Totobiegosode have been claiming legal title to this land since 1993, but most of it is still in private hands.

The Totobiegosode are the only uncontacted Indians in the world having their territory destroyed for beef production.

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This is textbook ‘greenwashing’: bulldoze the forest and then ‘preserve’ a bit of it for PR purposes. The public won’t fall for it. Yaguarete should stop playing games and pull out of the Totobiegosode’s territory once and for all.’

Survival’s Greenwashing Award is presented to Yaguarete Porá S.A. for dressing up the wholesale destruction of a huge area of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode’s forest as a noble gesture for conservation.

The following video shows what is likely to happen to the Totobiegosode people, using the terrible example of the Akuntsu:

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Offsetting | No Comments »

Bring On The Strike: Greenwashing British Airways In A Tailspin

Posted by keith on 17th December 2009

British Airways Denial

Oh, the sheer hubris is making me smile so much! Unite, the union responsible for the welfare of cabin staff at British Airways has moved well ahead with plans for a 12 day all-out strike designed to ground the majority of British Airways craft over the lucrative Christmas and New Year period; and won’t it be a corker if it goes ahead:

Bruce Carr QC, representing the airline at a packed hearing yesterday, said the union was “depriving literally millions of people of a happy Christmas”.

He added: “The apparent recognition of the deliberate timing is highlighted by the fact that Unite needed to make [the strike] 12 days of Christmas, not 10 or 14 … It knew the number has a resonance for the many passengers who are deprived of flying with BA.”

Let’s suppose that the striking workers manage to ground half of BA’s fleet from just Heathrow and Gatwick for this period. Stephen Bowler’s plane spotting website gives a good estimate of 500 flights from the two airports every day, with about 40% being long-haul (more than about 5000 miles). It’s difficult to extrapolate precisely, but assuming each an Airbus A320 emits just over 9kg per kilometre travelled that’s…

…about 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide per flight (with an average of 5000 km per flight)…

…about 22500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day…

…about 42750 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per day, due to 1.9 multiplier from high altitude flying…

…about 256000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent prevented from being emitted over the strike period, assuming half of planes are grounded.

Wow! That’s the same as the entire Central African Republic emits in a whole year. And that’s just direct emissions. I’ve taken into account the people who would have gone to other airlines in my 50% “grounding” figure, because it could be as much as 90% grounding if the strike is solid, but there are a hell of a lot of people who would think again about flying over the Christmas / New Year period if they were to experience a season at home again. Many, many of these people are habitual fliers who can’t imagine any other way of communicating, and heaven help anyone who wants to stop them exploring the world — but the cabin crew might manage that.

In case you think I am attacking British Airways out of hand, bearing in mind that aviation accounts, at the moment, for a relatively small proportion of global emissions, then you need to see the kind of nefarious tactics that BA have been using to convince us all that flying isn’t really a problem, and they are even one of the good guys when it comes to planetary ecocide.

First, their own web site, containing the following statements about the “efforts” they have been making to cut emissions:

We have actively campaigned for aviation to be included in global carbon trading since 2000.

We were the first airline in the world to gain practical experience through participation in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme, which enabled us to reduced our UK carbon emissions by 23%.

As a direct result of our efforts, the EU carbon trading scheme is going to include the aviation industry from 2012.

Exactly how did BA reduce its emissions by 23%? They didn’t cut the number of flights — oh no — they simply purchased a load of “permits” to pollute (actually, were virtually given them by the pro-flying UK government, but that’s another story) and struck them off their carbon balance sheet. Job done. Or rather, greenwash done. With aviation in the European scheme from 2012 there will be even more opportunity for BA to sweep their emissions under someone else’s carpet.

Second, they are a key member of Future Heathrow, an organisation promoting the (deep breath) “sustainable” expansion of London Heathrow airport. This is classic greenwash from their web site:

It has been suggested that the environmental costs of Heathrow outweigh its economic benefits but if capacity at Heathrow continues to be constrained, foreign hubs such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris will grow instead. This will not provide any climate change benefits but would severely damage the UK’s global competitiveness and UK jobs.

Of course, everyone in the UK will suddenly move to Germany, Holland or France so they can fly from there. Alternatively, without the expansion there will be fewer options for the airlines to seduce people into flying, so they might just stay at home ;-) And, of course, as part of Future Heathrow’s climate change mitigation, they will also be turning to emissions trading in a big way to “offset” the increase in Heathrow’s emissions (hang on, didn’t they say that the emissions wouldn’t increase overall?)

More about Future Heathrow can be found in this Unsuitablog article.

Third, British Airways are also a key member of the pro-flying lobby group Flying Matters. Ironically, for this article, the trade union that BA are fighting against, Unite, is also a member. Among their charming comments from their Press section is this one, essentially saying that the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to hell for suggesting people should grow their food locally:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called air-freighted food “unsustainable” and wants it to be replaced by homegrown produce from thousands of new allotments.

Dr. Williams made his comments in an interview with the Times, in which he also said that he tried to have a “flight-free year” in 2008, but didn’t manage to.

Although Dr. Williams said he wanted to avoid creating an “instant crisis” in developing countries whose economies rely on the ability to export fresh food to market, FlyingMatters Director Michelle Di Leo told The Times that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Alternatively, we could listen to Rowan Williams and not fall into the trap of thinking globalisation is what the financially poor nations of the world need – hey! Maybe they should be allowed to grow food for themselves rather than forcing them into market-led trade subservience.

British Airways, The World’s Most Hypocritical Airline.
__________

STOP PRESS: The strike has just been ruled “Illegal” by the High Court of England. That’s 256000 tonnes of carbon dioxide likely to be pouring into the atmosphere over Christmas once more…

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Go Greenwash With Envi

Posted by keith on 15th October 2009

Greenwash With Envi

Thanks to Bindarri, an Australian creative arts hub, which has exposed the lies of Australian Pulp in promoting their ENVI “sustainable” paper which, unsurprisingly, still requires primary forest to be logged for its production…

Q – how do you sell woodchipped Australian native forest to an Australian market who is becoming more environmentally aware?

A – buy some offset credits and launch Australia’s first carbon neutral paper.


Go Greenwash with ENVI

Australian Paper (AP), the manufacturer of ENVI has had a long history of sourcing fibre from native forests and has been subject to consumer boycotts.

AP’s Maryvale Mill in Gippsland Victoria will consume 350,000m3 of native forest pulp in 2009 [pdf pg 29] as well as producing pollutant emissions. This mill produces its famous Reflex paper and some of the ENVI range.

“ENVI grades are exactly the same paper that AP already produces. The only difference is that they have had the associated greenouse gas emmissions calculated and offset with carbon credits” (quote from Dalton). Some of ENVI’s range includes part recycled content such as “ENVI Recycled 50/50″ while some of their papers such as “ENVI DM MATT” and “REFLEX CARBON NEUTRAL” contain no recycled content.

Currently, AP is linked to logging in the Central Highland, Strzelecki Rainforest Reserve and the Baw Baw National Park, which has been recognised by several key scientific studies as one of Victoria’s most biologically significant sites and one of its most important water catchments.

The Central Highlands of Victoria are the world’s most carbon-dense forest according to researchers from the Australian National University. Professor Mackey said “It identifies a gap in climate change policy that Australia needs to address. There has been a lot of talk about the need to address tropical deforestation in developing countries, but these results show we must start by recognising the carbon benefits to be gained from protecting our native forests”.

Accrediting a paper which is sourcing part of their pulp from the worlds most carbon dense forests raises questions about the integrity of the “Greenhouse Friendly” program and what “Carbon Neutral” really means.

While Melbourne is facing strict water restrictions this summer, Melbourne’s main water catchment is losing 20,000 megalitres a year due to logging. Logging reduces waterflow in to our dams by 50% and causes erosion and pollution which impact on water quality.

You can read about the whole clearfelled mess at the Bindarri website, which also contains stacks more information about the corporate links of Australian Paper and other corporate greenwashing they are indulging themselves with.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting | No Comments »