Nov 272007

Lunch with Martin Wright, Editor at Large of Green Futures magazine; the Bible of sustainability for what Martin says has become a very broad church of readers. Martin has recently revamped the mag and it looks great. I’ve been increasingly worried about carbon offsets recently (not least because I’m shopping around for a provider for Weber Shandwick), and have felt some of the bad press they’ve had must surely be unjustified. My own former client Climate Care, has come in for a lot of flak in the papers this year, and The Times did a major hatchet job on one of their projects in India. To my relief, Martin restored my faith in carbon offsetting, and is not just a fan of Climate Care but also the India project in particular, which he has visited and written about. It’s the first time I’ve heard an environmentalist evangelise about offsetting for a long time, and it was a breath of fresh air frankly.Now we need to restore the reputation of forest based offsets, which have also been the subject of unfair criticism, on the basis that you can’t guarantee the forest will still be there in 30 years time. Really? What is the Forest Stewardship Council for then? If you take certified forests, of course you can provide that guarantee, that’s what certification is for. Some NGOs are difficult beasts. 10 years ago they called for biofuel. Now biofuels are the enemy. They called for carbon offsetting, then trashed them as a licence to pollute. I’m exaggerating a bit of course, but a bit of consistency would help businesses really plan for the future. The worst thing is when environmental groups persuade businesses to do something and then decide it wasn’t as brilliant an idea as they first thought and start campaigning against companies for doing what they campaigned for in the first place. Eventually business will stop listening.

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