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Old 07-08-2007, 01:49 PM   #3
RMadd
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Re: Environmental irony

Andrea Robinson, Live Earth's green manager, says her message to celebrities is: "Leave the Learjet at home - fly commercial."

Wembley Stadium will be lit using low energy fluorescent lightbulbs, while the backdrop is composed of recycled tyres and oil drums. The organisers tried to introduce re-usable cups for interval refreshments, but found that - like many green strategies - this was not practical on such a huge scale.

Some bio-produced plastic, made from corn, will be used, and artists' changing rooms will be fitted with energy-saving lightbulbs - all rather a drop in the ocean compared to the pollution generated by fans traveling across the UK to the concert or using the stadium's 2,618 toilets. Plans to ask the British public to turn off their electrical appliances during the Live Earth broadcast were scuppered when the National Grid pointed out that as everyone switched on again, a giant power surge could cripple the country.

Some stadiums are greener than others. The Aussie Stadium in Sydney will run the event on 100 per cent green energy supply. Each Australian Live Earth ticket comes with a free public transport voucher, while all the bathrooms will be waterless with waste being composted into fertiliser.

Conversely, in New York's Giants Stadium, trade unions have blocked Live Earth's attempts to recycle, and the 52,000-seater arena is not situated near public transport. The smallest - and least polluting - concert will be held at the British Antarctic Survey's base in Rothera.

Bizarrely, the concerts are also being 'independently audited' by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers over the next seven weeks, to assess the level of pollution they will have generated.

It is unclear what benefit this exercise will have, although the Live Earth organisers talk in terms of providing a 'legacy' for future events, showing how recycling and low-impact travel can be encouraged, and carbon-offsetting used. But the fact remains - massive rock concerts are hardly eco-friendly.

So just how does Gore claim that Live Earth will be carbon neutral? He does so by convenient use of 'carbon offsetting' - a trendy new method of absolving yourself of guilt.

Carbon offsetting involves 'neutralising' the emissions you are responsible for by buying 'credits'.
A spokesperson for Live Earth says: "This might involve buying environmentally sound lightbulbs for a Third World school, planting trees, or installing solar panels in a developing country."

A huge industry has sprung up to provide corporations with carbon credits.
However, critics say that the practice is simply a way for consumerist industries and nations to export their responsibility to developing countries. Others say it simply does not work.

Carbon-offsetting is, it turns out, how celebrities square green issues with their extravagant lifestyles and use of private jets.

Jon Bon Jovi has said: "We wrote a cheque, we took care of our footprint and raised awareness, blah blah blah."

When Gore - who himself spent eight years flying on Air Force Two - was asked if he had persuaded Madonna to stop using private jets, he said: 'Well, I appreciate and respect her as an artist and as a person, and there are many artists who are offsetting their role in contributing to the CO2 build-up, and I understand that.' A rather longwinded way of saying 'no'.

Madonna has, however, been given an instruction handbook on climate crisis by Live Earth.

John Rego, the environmental director of Live Earth, says he expects to purchase at least 3,000 tonnes of carbon credits to off-set the event. It is believed the organisers will spend in excess of 1million on carbon offsetting to counter criticism.

Rego explains: "All the events are carbon neutral. We have chosen a reforestation and reagricultural project in Mozambique. It is a credible certifiable carbon-diffused project. We are in the process of purchasing a carbon offset."

Dr Collins says: "Taking a flight and planting a tree does not add up. It does not make it all right. It is having your cake and eating it."

Dr John Barrett, from the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, says: "There is a huge irony in flying halfway across the globe in a private jet, eating up fossil fuel.

"The idea that you can offset the pollution you cause is just ridiculous. What these people at Live Earth have done is defined their boundaries to suit themselves, but there is no sense in which this concert is carbon neutral.

"Planting trees or investing in renewable energy does not reverse the damage of releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the environment.

"It is far better not to pollute in the first place. Carbon offsetting can be a removal of guilt, but it is not an effective one."

Live Earth is encouraging 'citizens of the world' to take small steps: share a car, plant a shrub, turn off a light or hang out washing rather than use a dryer.

But Dr Barrett says: "It would be far better for these celebrities to stay at home. Holding large concerts to highlight environmental concerns and cut carbon emissions just seems ridiculous. What planet do these people live on?"
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