greenwash: mind your language

You've been hearing them all year, the way the government and big business talk about their progress in reducing emissions. Admittedly from time to time the stories are true, but are mostly exaggerated and are mostly just deceiptful. They want to tell us about all the great things they are doing but it's important to understand how they tell their stories and how in doing this how they mislead us all - into believing they're actually doing something positive. A recent article suggests we must be on alert all the time to spot Greenwash - "To survive this post-Cambridge Analytica world you must treat everything you encounter as if it might be a #sponsoredpost". Read the article here

greenwash: words of the year

You've been hearing them all year, the way the government and big business talk about their progress in reducing emissions. Admittedly from time to time the stories are true, but are mostly exaggerated and are mostly just deceiptful. They want to tell us about all the great things they are doing but it's important to understand how they tell their stories and how in doing this how they mislead us all - into believing they re actually doing something good. A recent article suggests we must be on alert all the time to spot Greenwash - "To survive this post-Cambridge Analytica world you must treat everything you encounter as if it might be a #sponsoredpost". Read the article here

net zero:  lets start with the biggest. All this means is that you can carry on doing what you've always done but you find some way of balancing your emissions with fantasy (carbon capture at scale for example) or fantasy (endless carbon offsets for example) or fantasy (scalable hydrogen fuels for example). What they all really need to adopt is absolute zero as a target - with real reductions in emissions. Not even per capita but real total emissions The "four conceptual flaws of Net zero" are: 

1. Allowing delays and procrastination: "The vast majority of the plans are centred on a 'net zero' by 2050 timeline with little action taken to reduce emissions at source for decades" No benchmarks allowing business as usual for decades before any action is required.

2. Future solutions: The plans rely on highly improbable schemes to make the emissions disappear, as if by magic". Technofixes that simply don't exist yet and the simple fact that the Earth's nature doesn't have enough capacity to absorb the amount of carbon the various 'net zero' commitments imply

3. Wrong assumptions about Carbon: 'The concept of 'net zero' as enshrined in the Paris Agreement assumes one tonne of carbon emitted from any source has the same value as one tonne of carbon sequestered", allowing the myth that business as usual emissions can continue in one sector and be removed somewhere else.

4. A failure to understand what the real problem is: "Perhaps most importantly, 'net zero' schemes ignore the simple truth that the climate crisis is not a problem of technology but a problem of political will and entrenched power relations". The same polluters now pushing 'net zero' have spent decades interfering in climate policy and muddying the public discourse.

Have a look at the detail, examples and why this really matters. You can download The Big Con here

sustainable (and while we're at it eco & green): The problem with calling something sustainable is that it immediately carries a value of goodness, something helping to solve our problems, reduce emissions and create a better world. But what does it really mean - and does it make any sense to call anything sustainable? Sustainable SUVs? Sustainable fashion ? Sustainable aviation fuel ? "Greenwashing is everywhere. Here in the developed world, demand for sustainable products is almost four times what it was 20 years ago. Around 57 per cent of UK consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products, increasing to 69 per cent of consumers among the younger generations. As we hurtle towards a sixth mass global extinction, corporations are stepping up to sell us sustainable face cream. Nearly half of all beauty product launches now come with some environmental or ethical claim, although this is of limited reassurance when 40 per cent of green claims made online could be misleading, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)".(Independent) Remember to look closely at the claims and the evidence. Advertising companies are really good at spinning tall tales. How about the Middle East Green Initiative (no mention of reducing oil or gas production but planting plenty of trees .....)

greening companies: (In the words of BP CEO Bernard Looney) "Greening companies are companies that are not lower carbon today but are serious about getting there. These are companies that have credible plans to transform and become greener." Oh yeah - don't want to call yourself a green company or even a sustainable company so why not a greening company. You couldn't make it up.

carbon Offsetting: From Client Earth "Companies’ climate plans increasingly rely on vague talk of huge ‘offsets’ or ‘nature-based solutions’ schemes instead of near-term reductions in fossil fuel production.  These plans, even if costed and scalable, can in practice often involve vast commercial monoculture tree plantations, which can cause negative impacts on biodiversity and communities, and struggle to guarantee carbon storage for the hundreds of years which fossil fuel emissions will remain in the atmosphere.  Some companies plan to claim the carbon ‘credits’ from existing forests by relying on questionable claims that the corporate offset schemes are the only way to stop deforestation.  Carbon removals and offsetting schemes like this can be a part of tackling climate change.  But they are not an alternative to prioritising cutting emissions for any sector, let alone for the fossil fuel industry."

carbon-neutral: (A close relation to net zero) Nando's say " We believe that healthy chickens shouldn’t cost the earth. But here’s the deal, if you want to improve chicken welfare, that normally means higher emissions.So, whilst we’re switching to a slower-growing breed of bird and giving them more space to live, we’re also working with farmers and experts to keep our emissions down"

climate resilient: Better get ready, Climate Change is coming. So lets make sure we have higher sea walls, stronger buildings which can withstand stronger weather events, modified food which can grow in dryer conditions, vaccinations for more pandemics ....Some of these might be necessary because we've left it too late for there to be no impact but where's the discussion about changing the system so we start to reduce the need to be climate resilient ?

green growth:  is a term to describe a hypothetical path of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable. It is based on the understanding that as long as economic growth remains a predominant goal, a decoupling of economic growth from resource use and adverse environmental impacts is required. Maybe we can have some green growth, maybe we can have more bicycles, more public transport and more wind farms - but another thing where we're talking about energy intensive things. How can we have green growth in flying? or oil and gas exploration? Have a look at this ... a solar powered oil well !

green growth:  is a term to describe a hypothetical path of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable. It is based on the understanding that as long as economic growth remains a predominant goal, a decoupling of economic growth from resource use and adverse environmental impacts is required. Maybe we can have some green growth, maybe we can have more bicycles, more public transport and more wind farms - but another thing where we're talking about energy intensive things. How can we have green growth in flying? or oil and gas exploration? How about this ... a solar powered oil well !