(News of the month Nov/Dec 2006).

Those who are damning “Carbon Offsetting” may not be telling the whole story?

You may be aware that there is a lot of fuss in the media over “carbon offsetting” and its actual merits, while it may be true that there are a lot of companies and individuals jumping on the “carbon offsetting” bandwagon, in that they simply mass plant single species, non native trees in the UK or set up projects such as the one by Applied Energy in the USA in the late 80’s where they planted a mass forest of non native eucalyptus in Guatemala which totally destroyed the immediate local environment, also there was the recent story of the band “who won’t be mentioned” who allegedly planted thousands of mango trees in India of which most died and the offset calculation was said at the time to be flawed anyway.

Newly Planted "mixed native" Trees 2005/6

The problem here is that many so called “carbon offsetting” initiatives are very single vision, “offset, offset, carbon, carbon, green wash, green wash”, …well to us at Green ISP this was never going to be the case because we already had the insight and environmental awareness to see the pitfalls of a one stop solution to “carbon offset” or what we like to call “carbon footprint reduction”, we were always going to look at a diverse and holistic view of the impact our business was going to have on the natural environment.

To disrespect or not to disrespect?

So we decided to use a “Climate Action Group” who look at the whole picture when it comes to using trees in a “carbon footprint” reduction strategy, they pick native trees, talk with local people, choose appropriate locations where the local environment will be almost certainly improved (not only in a carbon reducing way but natural environmental one too) wildlife habitats are more diverse then too, we use very low energy computer processing equipment such as AMD Turion 64 and Intel’s Low power Xeon based computers and servers, we solar power our main offices (around 80% capacity to do this 365 days per year), use renewable energy tariffs where we can and are actively looking at other options as we issue this news today.

So, to disrespect “tree planting” as one or the options in the mix of “how to help reduce your carbon footprint” may not be a good idea after all, certainly we would agree if it was completely inappropriate planting, but lets face it, if appropriate then the more trees planted the better we say! The Greeks and the Romans washed some of their major ports into the harbours they resided on due to removing trees to grow food, rain simply washed the soil from the land into the sea.

Some say that trees cannot “lock” carbon away and that one day the tree will die so tree planting is pointless, well apart from storing carbon in tanks underground (which can only be done at the moment at the location where the carbon is emitted), what else can be done that is going to also improve the natural environment, I suppose there may be another alternative but it has not been answered sufficiently for us so far, so lets start reducing our carbon footprint, think before we have to fly and drive, strive for efficiency and offset the rest until we find something better.

Can we finally make it clear, we do not endorse the “Guilt Free” approach to all this, in that we can all still carry on with our lifestyles in a “business as usual” manner and then just get a Carbon Offsetting Company (which incidentally are mainly profit making, we are Not-for Profit, as is our Climate action group – Treesponsibility.com) to rid us of any guilt, it simply won’t work, we need to do much more, but if appropriate please, “carbon offset disrespectors” think before dissing?

What do you think?

Comments to: info@greenisp.net

More info on "Cequsting C02 and "Carbon Locking" here
Nov/Dec 2006