Carbon Con update

Carbon Con update

A while ago, prompted by a load of Hub members sending details about numerous Carbon “offsetting” companies to the Hub list, I wrote The Carbon Con.

One of the comments I got was from tav of

“well said!

wish more people would think like this.”

Thankfully it seems more people do now indeed think like this.

Going through the news that I’ve aggregated on the Commons Creation site, I ended up reading a member’s blog, which in turn led me Dougald Hine‘s excellent blog where I saw this article about Paul Kingsnorth‘s mock up of CheatCare:


A couple of days later I came across CheatNeutral, a wonderful site.

Their about page nicely outlines why Carbon “offsetting” is such a load of nonsense:

About Cheatneutral

Cheatneutral is about offsetting infidelity. We’re the only people doing it, and Cheatneutral is a joke.

Carbon offsetting is about paying for the right to carry on emitting carbon. The Carbon offset industry sold £60 million of offsets last year, and is rapidly growing. Carbon offsetting is also a joke.

Five ways that Cheatneutral is like carbon offsetting:

1. Cheatneutral tries to make it seem acceptable to cheat on your partner. In the same way, carbon offsetting tries to make it acceptable to carry on emitting excess carbon.

2. Cheatneutral doesn’t really do much to reduce the amount of cheating in the world. Carbon offsetting does very little to reduce global carbon emissions.

3. It seems impossible to measure how much harm cheating on someone does. With carbon offsetting, there is currently no practically feasible way of measuring how much carbon offset projects actually save.

4. Having Cheatneutral’s services available could actually encourages you o cheat more. If the carbon offsetters persuade you that it’s possible to offset your emissions, you’ll carry on emitting excess carbon through your lifestyle rather than think about reducing your emissions.

5. Cheatneutral is fundamentally the wrong way to go about solving problems with your relationships. Carbon offsetting is fundamentally the wrong way to go about tackling climate change.

Two ways which Cheatneutral is not like carbon offsetting:

1. We don’t make any money out of Cheatneutral. Offset companies in the voluntary carbon market take a cut of every transaction and make a profit.

2. Cheatneutral is a joke we thought up in the pub. Carbon offsetting presents itself as a credible solution to climate change, described by the government’s chief scientist Sir David King as “the most severe problem that we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism…”

The same day that I came across CheatNeutral, a new report was published by Carbon Trade Watch, entitled “The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins”:

Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins. Scratch the surface, however, and a disturbing picture emerges, where creative accountancy and elaborate shell games cover up the impossibility of verifying genuine climate change benefits, and where communities in the South often have little choice as offset projects are inflicted on them.

This report argues that offsets place disproportionate emphasis on individual lifestyles and carbon footprints, distracting attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken to tackle climate change. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches involves moving away from the marketing gimmicks, celebrity endorsements, technological quick fixes, and the North/South exploitation that the carbon offsets industry embodies.

Download the report here