Alternative Fuels Australia

Carbon offsets being used "as a smokescreen": report

Posted by Car Geek on August 7, 2007

//flickr.com/photos/troyscanon/538559305/, licenced under Creative Commons 2.0 Carbon offsets are becoming a popular way to ease consumer doubt about their impact on climate change, with members of the transport industry such as Virgin Blue and Saab recently offering such programs to their customers. A report by the Australia Institute, however, questions the real benefit of these programs.

 

The report, entitled “Carbon Offsets: Saviour or Cop-Out?“, was released this month and details the current carbon offset systems in Australia and their relative effectiveness. Its author, Christian Dowdie, claims that consumers are being “misled by claims that offset companies can make them ‘carbon neutral’” and accuses both the government and industry of using carbon offset programs, particularly those involving tree planting, “as a smokescreen to distract people from the need to cut emissions”.

Carbon Offsets: Saviour or Cop-Out? is particularly critical of forestry methods of carbon offsets, when compared to other methods such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. “Tree-planting, or forestry, cannot secure real, measurable and permanent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because sooner or later the forest will be felled, burned or destroyed,” Mr Downie said.

“When (people) buy offsets from a forestry project with their airline ticket, for example, they are actually buying a promise that the immediate emissions from their flight will be gradually offset over the next 100 years.

“There can be very little, if any, guarantee that this will actually happen.”

The findings will no doubt be of particular importance to Saab, who has recently entered into a partnership with Greenfleet to offset the emissions from each new vehicle it sells through tree plantation.

The report is available to the public through The Australia Institute web site.

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One Response to “Carbon offsets being used "as a smokescreen": report”

  1. […] Original post by Nathan […]

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