Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Carbon offset weddings. Ho hum.

Several months ago I received this email from a very nice sounding women introducing another carbon offset calculator, this time for weddings, and offering me the opportunity to be an affiliate for the scheme.

"I'd like to introduce Brighter Planet; we help people and businesses reduce and offset their carbon footprint. We have developed a simple carbon offset calculator for weddings that is fully embeddable, and will be featured on The Green Bride Guide's new website. Our affiliate program (through LinkShare) would automatically pay you a commission when people visiting http://theethicalwedding.blogspot.com/use the calculator and offset their wedding. You can see our calculator at the bottom of this page: http://brighterplanet.com/products/event_offsetting
Please let me know if you're interested and we can easily set this up, and help your couples make an ethical AND climate-friendly commitment to the future."

Now, there are dozens of different carbon footprint and offset calculators out there now, although this one may indeed have a USP in being wedding-specific. The problem is, of course, not in the generally well-meaning people setting some of these little enterprises up, but in the broader concept and practice of carbon offsetting itself. There are the ideological objections - that planting trees or paying for technological developments in Majority World countries doesn't challenge the fundamental necessity that we re-think our own ways of living. And there are the objections in practice - that many of the projects being paid for are at best well-meaning but vague and at worst deeply corrupt and destructive. There have been monoculture forests planted on stolen land in Mexico, hydro dams that go to power factories and smelters that just churn out more consumer crap for our wasteful society, and fraudulent double-counting of carbon credits that mean that a lot of money goes into a few pockets and bugger all happens to help the environment.
For a more comprehensive critique of, and information on, the problem see Dan Welch's report for Ethical Consumer.
Needless to say, I won't be signing up for the affiliate scheme, but I have put in the link above in case anyone out there does want to use this service.

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