Voluntary carbon trading markets in the United States have doubled in volume over the past year, demonstrating that companies and consumers increasingly seek to offset their role in creating greenhouse gasses by fostering reductions in carbon elsewhere. But the market lacks quality control and a reliable referee. Some companies may take more interest in pushing brand identity than good works.
As a reporter for Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T), a small industry trade publication, Paul Thacker discovered an entire industry built around spinning science for the purpose of confusing the public while benefiting big business. He wrote exposés documenting the tobacco and oil industry ties of Steven Milloy's junkscience.com, which purports to debunk bad science about issues such as global warming.
"With congressional Democrats readying probes into oil companies' profits and eyeing legislation aimed at curbing global warming, the American Petroleum Institute and its K Street allies are looking to assemble a $100 million war chest to rally policy makers and public opinion to their side," reports Peter Stone.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) is planning to launch a major "educational advocacy" program in January 2007 to influence the incoming Congress. The API represents 400 major oil and gas producers. According to PR Week, the program will include increased television advertising, speeches by economists and industry executives and tours of oil and gas operations for think tank staff and politicians.
Jim Rogers, the Chief Executive of Duke Energy, a power company that is keen to build nuclear power plants in North and South Carolina, told reporters at an energy conference that he was "cautiously optimistic on nuclear, but public opinion turns on a dime." The nuclear industry faces considerable hurdles.
The Australian Minister for Tourism, Fran Bailey, has indicated a willingness to consider covering parts of the Great Barrier Reef with shade cloth to limit damage caused to it by global warming. A trial of four five-metre square shade cloths has been undertaken over the last two years. "We're very concerned because this is a $A5.8 billion tourist industry on the reef, employing 33,000 people," Bailey said.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, veteran energy policy analyst Amory Lovins said that he had spoken with former Greenpeace co-founder turned nuclear power promoter Patrick Moore and concluded that "he's not well informed about energy alternatives." Earlier this year, the Nuclear Energy Institute established a front group, the
The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against a Scottish energy utility that claimed that a tree planting scheme funded by consumers volunteering to pay a higher tariff would offset their carbon emissions. The ASA told Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) to withdraw a brochure promoting the scheme. SSE had argued that the average household produced 4.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from gas usage and household waste.
George Monbiot argues that journalists and media outlets routinely fail to ensure adequate disclosure of the funding sources when including interviewing staff from think tanks on global warming.