Channel 4’s programme has finally been aired, fronted by their science correspondent Tom Clarke. The hour unfortunately did not do the topic(s) justice as no one green product was covered in much depth. Just as a good point was made about a particular product, the substance behind it was left hanging in the air as they moved on to the next product. Frustrating.
The programme, if it was watched by many people, won’t help the fledgling offset industry. Green electricity tarrifs also came in for a hammering. Dr Andy Kerr of E3 International was consulted on his opinion of this product. I have the feeling his negative thoughts were given prominence by the programme team or, at the very least Dr Kerr’s mention of positive developments were not expanding on.
The general point made by the GGSS was that every household already pays £7 p.a. on their electricity bills towards funding the Renewable Obligation that all energy utilities must fulfill. Why therefore should people pay for a separate green energy tariff? Powergen’s response was that if they got extra money from green tariff customers over and above the RO then they could invest more money in renewables. So Powergen isn’t sounding terribly proactive then!
GGSS made some play with the fact that general agreed standards haven’t been agreed yet for assessing products like carbon offsets. There is no industry wide, recognized label or monitoring system. The industry is young so this is hardly a ground breaking revelation. Similarly the term ‘carbon neutrality’ got a knocking. M&S were mentioned but GGSS didn’t unpick the company’s plans, just sort of kicked it to touch.
One good point was made about the Carbon Trust’s project to attempt to assign a carbon footprint to products we buy in the store, mentioning Walkers crisps in particular. An expert did point out that while it is possible to measure some aspects of the farming and production, some aspects of the farming are difficult to measure. GGWS pointed out that the government gives the Carbon Trust millions a year to come up with ideas on how we might reduce our carbon footprints. GGWS then implied that the Trust might be spending a lot of time and money to produce this Walkers crips footprint and for what? The project does seem incredibly ambitious but the organisation has many very skilled and experienced people covering a varied menu of projects, not just Walkers Crisps!
Global Cool turned up to check out Mr Clarke’s own home to give some basic ideas on how he might reduce his household carbon footprint; shower don’t bathe, use energy efficient light bulbs, turn the thermostat down to 18 degrees C and so on. Miss Global Cool thought Mr Clarke could save about 2 tonnes a year on his carbon emissions off a typical household’s 11 tonnes p.a. Mr Clarke’s response was flippant and instantly dismissive; ‘Just one flight will wipe out that saving!’ he exclaimed. Hardly the point.
All in all I think the programme failed to seriously analyse anything in particular and simply skirted around major issues. The one hour format was always going to do the issues an injustice. Lots of shots of a giant floating foot did become a little tiresome! The BBC’s Ethical Man series; now that was useful and very interesting.