Carbon Offseting – the Marmite of the Green thinking world

Carbon Offsetting – as a environmentally conscious business, you will either love it or hate it. To borrow a question posed in a recent editorial feature in PrintWeek Magazine, is it cheque book environmentalism, or a legitimate means to achieving carbon reduction targets?

To cut to the core of it, Carbon Offsetting won’t solve our climate problems.
To do this we need to significantly reduce the amount we consume as a society and to produce what we consume using as few resources as possible produced in as efficient manner as possible. And we need to control our population.
Can a market driven by materialism and money achieve this on its own? I very much doubt it. What is imperative will be strong leadership by our political institutions who see an opportunity for our society to lead the world in green thinking, living and technology. The concept of ‘the polluters pays (not profits)’ needs to be quickly enshrined in our legal and taxation systems. This is to some extent happening in the motor industry with the active encouragement of electric vehicles. On the contrary, the pathetic support for the solar renewables sector gives us an example of how established economic power bases, such as the motor industry, are still pulling the financial strings and steering the economic ship.

Yet, our society has grown rich on the exploitation of human and physical resources. This is deeply ingrained in our culture. The human race has proven itself to have very limited ability to deal with long term problems – usually we put our head in the sands, point the finger of blame at someone or something else or end up in denial (despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary). We are all guilty of taking actions which deal with our immediate issues rather than putting our actions into a longer term context.

So what does Carbon offsetting bring to the table if not the answer to our problems? Well, it may help bring the message of resource depletion and exploitation to those who would normally only ‘poo poo’ the concept. And, of course, once you buy into Carbon Offsetting (literally) you are accepting the existence of the problem and the need for something to be done. If it can convert the hardened market driven minds in this way, it may help our society to collectively use our significant powers to make a real difference to the human races most pressing problem.
Carbon Offsetting won’t provide us with the answer to our manmade problems, but it does have a role to play in winning the battle of the minds.

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