Published: Monday 31 July 2006

Naive operators
Hadi Dowlatabadi, one of the founders of this site under review calls himself a reformed carbon emitter. The Canada-based scientist used to travel more than 100,000 km a year and even owned a sports utility vehicle for four days before deciding it wasn't for him.

Now, he works largely out of his home in Vancouver. The website allows people to figure out how much CO2 emissions their car or air travel is causing and to put money toward clean-energy and other programmes to reduce CO2 emissions elsewhere. London-based HSBC claims that it became the first major bank last year to offset all of its carbon emissions; Swiss Re, a major insurance company based in Zurich, says it will do the same by 2013. Former US vice president-turned-environmentalist Al Gore says he offsets all of the emissions that he is responsible for, and the Dave Matthews Band is about to announce that it will make donations to offset all carbon emissions caused by the travel and energy use from its tours going back to 1991.

"Offset everything you do, as Gore and others do, and you can reach the goal of becoming "carbon-neutral," says Dowlatabadi. That's naive. The amount of CO2 actually being reduced by such offsetting activities are puny compared to CO2 and other greenhouse gases released from industrial activities globally.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.