Days after Live Earth partied for the planet, Dispatches reveals how attempts to buy our way out of climate crisis may not be delivering. Channel 4 News’ Science Correspondent Tom Clarke dissects the many ‘solutions’ to global warming – from carbon off-setting to green energy tariffs. Jetting off on holidays and mini-breaks – we’re increasingly turning to off-setting to alleviate our environmental guilt. It’s a boom industry, with dozens of new companies springing up each year to offset everything from weddings to babies’ nappies.
The UK’s biggest players have a collective turn-over in excess of £2m. And now big business is in on the act with Barclays, HSBC and Sky off-setting themselves and Dell and BP selling offsets to their customers. But are offsets really the answer in the fight against global warming? Clarke investigates a number of projects – from tree-planting in the UK to pig manure in Mexico – all of which are supposed to cancel out our carbon footprint. But do these projects stand up to scrutiny?
So what else should consumers consider? Green energy tariffs look appealing, but research commissioned for Dispatches shows they often don’t make a watt of difference. Carbon labelling is being talked up a storm, but scientists tell Dispatches that labelling may not be a credible reality for some time to come. One way of making a difference, Clark discovers, might be to take direct personal action to lower our own carbon emissions. But given the small amount of savings each of us can make as individuals, is that any more than a token gesture?