Greenwashing

August 1st, 2019

Before writing this blog each week, I have spent many hours writing to people!

One of my emails today has already had a reply…

It was to the Guardian Advertising department – about BP.

Maybe some of you have noticed – they’re running prominent half-page adverts about a new biofuel, adorned with images of tall plants, using green type (and, happily for them, their logo’s green & yellow too!) and the hashtag NotBusinessAsUsual.

That doesn’t convince me/us – they’re continuing to be in ‘Business as Usual’ mode as long as they continue to drill for oil.

What they’re doing is ‘greenwashing’, trying to distract customers from their dirty dealings by drawing attention to their (usually limited) green credentials.

I’ve been trying to boycott BP but it’s almost impossible while we continue to drive a petrol car, and BP owns the majority of petrol stations in the UK (including our local), and probably many of the supermarket ones too.. 

I think petro-chemical INEOS might be an even more toxic company – it doesn’t attempt to sound green in any way, shape or form.

Many people, me included, have probably encountered the ‘monster’ for the first time through the recent BBC television programmes, ‘War on Plastic with Hugh & Anita’.

What an excellent (if also depressing, in equal measure…?) series – two images will stay with me: mountains of disgusting waste (that won’t rot, it’s not biodegradable, Sainsbury’s carrier bags included) stretching for as far as the eye can see in China;

and an INEOS employee/manager proudly demonstrating to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall the thousands of bags of plastic pellets being produced by their machinery, absolutely no shame about the pollution potential.

Following this final episode, I’ve been writing to the CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe in my head – not an enjoyable experience…! (I even had a dream/nightmare about it last night) 

I put pen to actual paper this morning – of course he’s unlikely to ever actually see/read the letter (appealing to his humanity, and love of nature surrounding his mansion in Hampshire, luxury yachts on the ocean and tax haven in Monaco….!). But I have sent it with a covering note to top sailor Ben Ainslie who just might be more approachable…. INEOS sponsors him, and the Tour de Yorkshire.

Back to the subject of greenwashing, I haven’t yet heard back from KLM – disappointingly, I think their promising appeal to the industry and air travellers may have just been another greenwashing exercise….I’ll try again to contact them next week, or take a different tack….

So, now for some good news!

Greta Thunberg will be attending UN climate summits in the US and Chile, travelling by racing yacht (not courtesy of INEOS.. this one generates its electricity from solar panels and underwater turbines) – she doesn’t use planes.

I presume the Earth Strike protests she’s inspiring have been timed to start when she’s in New York – around September 23rd.

I do hope we’ll all get our voices heard, around the world, then.

In the UK, low-carbon energy generated more than half of the electricity used for the first time last year. The Tory government, for all its many faults, has at least championed off-shore wind farms. I’ve written to our MP (Tory, Forest of Dean), however, asking him to ‘keep an eye’ on Mr Johnson, ensuring he honours these commitments.

And of course these good low-carbon figures are partly due to nuclear powered electricity – not a totally positive picture….

In Ethiopia, about 350 million trees have been planted in a single day – wow, very good news!

The planting is part of a national ‘green legacy’ initiative to grow 4 billion trees by urging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. Public offices were apparently shut down to allow civil servants to take part. The project aims to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country.

And I have felt more optimism from someone who has only just ‘come on to my radar’ – Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen. She was the speaker at our niece’s Graduation Ceremony at Bristol University last week. She has been very instrumental in ‘injecting optimism’ into the world leaders’ debate about Climate Change – watch her TED talk online!

I’ve written to her too of course…

I had a (handwritten) letter from (Sir) David Attenborough – he thought I wanted him to be involved (I was just asking for television ‘contacts’ …) and said he didn’t have time, but suggested I took my idea (of a programme engaging us ‘ordinary people’ with Climate Change – a follow-up to War on Plastic, maybe) to the BBC. I’ve emailed the ‘indie’ film company who were commissioned by them.

Well, I’ll finish there for this week. 

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