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Scope Series 4 RTÉ Two, Thursday, 7.00pm

Carbon Offsetting

The Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Radiohead have all offset carbon tour emissions recently by protecting forests while Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt have invested in trees as a way of compensating for using their cars and globetrotting around the World.

Kathriona, Danann, BbrianIrish band Bell X1 have also offset their recent tours and it cost surprisingly little – the trees needed to clear the carbon from their most recent Irish tour cost not much more than €40, although Brian Crosby points out there were very few flights involved. It is airline traffic that generates a vast amount of the CO2 that individuals are responsible for.

“Obviously people have to drive and have to fly and that’s fine, but we should be more aware of the consequences of our actions,” Crosby says. “I’d like to see people booking flights online be shown information on the carbon emissions that will be produced by the flight and then have the option of paying a small sum of money to offset that.”

Some critics say carbon neutrality is more about creating a feel-good factor than helping the environment. Tree planting is one of the most common forms of carbon offsetting. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen and wood, both of which are very useful for humans and other animals.

However how much carbon trees actually absorb is still being debated as is how long you need to let them grow and where you should plant them. Estimates on how long a tree needs to grow range from 50 to 100 years.

Tree planting projects are called carbon sink projects which means they only temporarily absorb CO2 and are therefore not considered the best way of offsetting the problem.

Many environmentalists quite reasonably point out that that the only real solution to climate change is for fossil-fuel burning to be stopped. This, they argue, will never happen if people and corporations believe it is okay to pollute as long as emissions are offset through a carbon neutral programme.

Some carbon offsetting organisations generate huge income from people. Environmentalists are encouraging people to support carbon offset projects that lead to a direct reduction of greenhouse gases. This aim can be achieved by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies, through energy saving measures and by introducing both efficient technology and processes.

Scope decided to offset the episode about the environment and look at ways of reducing our carbon footprint.


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