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BP Launches Carbon Neutral Commuter Program
August 22, 2006 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Keep driving your Hummer guilt free, thanks to BP BP announced today a new program that will allow drivers to maintain carbon-neutral without changing their driving habits or make of car. The program, called "Target Neutral" is a web-initiative that allows drivers to cancel out their carbon emissions by funding renewable energy and green technology ventures out of their own pockets -- carbon credit offsets in their simplest form. Interesting to note that BP's big announcement is on the heels of news reports out of Washington yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency along with two other federal departments will be involved in an investigation into BP's Alaskan operations and it's Aug.9th oil pipe leak.
posted by jacob hauser (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Terrapass has been around for a while now...
posted by matty at 9:20 PM on August 22, 2006


And Green Tags. But I think that keeping wasteful habits would constitute bad faith.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:23 PM on August 22, 2006


I'll buy a Terrapass but BP can suck it. They made $7.3 Billion dollars in profit last quarter. I'm not going to pay them any extra.
posted by mathowie at 9:26 PM on August 22, 2006


"They made $7.3 Billion dollars in profit last quarter."

Yet somehow they can't find the funds for their own R&D.
posted by TetrisKid at 9:32 PM on August 22, 2006


What a coincidence that this should come amid allegations of "chronic neglect" re: the North Slope pipeline.
posted by clevershark at 9:36 PM on August 22, 2006


Ugh...
posted by SweetJesus at 9:39 PM on August 22, 2006


Color me skeptical. They list four active projects, none of which strike me as particularly massive in scale. One of them is a single wind turbine in Karnataka India.
posted by justkevin at 9:41 PM on August 22, 2006


Hey, every drop of oil that gets dumped into the sea is another drop of oil that won't get burned and turned into greenhouse gasses.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's intresting that their funding projects rather then selling actual removal or non-placement of carbon.

Rather then funding a wind-mill the way it's supposed to work is an old greenhouse gas system would shut down and be replaced by a new renewable system, the operators of which could sell not only energy, but also carbon credits.

Another interesting biz idea would be to sell patches of the Amazon rainforest, and then sell carbon credits based on the amount of CO2 sucked out of the air by that land. Two environmental protections for the price of one.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on August 22, 2006


According to the logic....

If I smack my wife around, it's OK....
As long as I give money to a womans shelter.

wtf
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:08 PM on August 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's intresting that they're funding projects rather then selling actual removal or non-placement of carbon.
posted by bob sarabia at 10:28 PM on August 22, 2006


TetrisKid - Yet somehow they can't find the funds for their own R&D.

If they're anything like the pharmaceuticals industry, R&D is the least of their expenses. A large majority of gross expenditures are on marketing.
posted by porpoise at 10:48 PM on August 22, 2006


If they're anything like the pharmaceuticals industry, R&D is the least of their expenses. A large majority of gross expenditures are on marketing.

Oil markets itself. "Green energy" is a whole 'nother ballgame.
posted by ryoshu at 11:02 PM on August 22, 2006


Thank you for pointing out the their/they're mistake. Now I understand what delmoi meant too say.
posted by Hicksu at 11:10 PM on August 22, 2006


My credit union will give you a discounted rate (8.24% vs 9.95%) on a car loan if you buy an environmentally friendly vehicle. Stuff like that needs to be encouraged.

Personally I'm looking at a Polo TDi which gets well over 45mpg and has emissions almost as low as a prius. It'll also cost me half as much in fuel as a gasoline car.
posted by Talez at 11:13 PM on August 22, 2006


Yeah, the portion of their Marketing budget devoted to advertising the 'fact' that they need all that money for R&D vastly outstrips the money they actually spend on such efforts.

It's as if they donated $5 million to a charity, and then spent $10 million telling everyone about it in sappy advertising... Unfortunately, that's the rule, not the exception... Oh well.
posted by blasdelf at 12:11 AM on August 23, 2006


This has the greenhouse angle taken care of (not really, but let's just say it has). Now all you have to do is start paying replacement cost for the petrol you burn in your colossal aluminium shitmobile, and you've got peak oil covered as well!

Well?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:25 AM on August 23, 2006


You know, if you can afford to fill up the tank on one of those guzzling beasts AND pay into funding green projects to become carbon neutral, well then, I say 'good for you.'
posted by crunchland at 2:39 AM on August 23, 2006


In the UK anyway, BP's marketing is disgusting - all the adverts position them as a green company, only ever mentioning their research into alternative energy sources &c., and never, ever mentioning, you know, petroleum.
posted by jack_mo at 4:46 AM on August 23, 2006


Viz. the photo on their website fo the Himachel Pradesh chemical plant, I'll be supporting child labor! (Not to mention the fact that Himachel Pradesh's delicate and overburdened ecology can't really handle a bunch of biomass chemicals.)

What's so freaking wrong about halving one's driving? Now that would be a start.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:15 AM on August 23, 2006


Too bad that carbon credits don't really, um, work.

Trees just store up the carbon, and as soon as they die and decompose, or get burned in a forest fire, every atom of carbon that they bound up gets released again.

So this is yet another instance where we're leaving the pollution for our children and grandchildren.

Also, apparently trees give off methane, another greenhouse gas.

And there's no way that they can accurately record all of the CO2 that is going into gasoline.

Finally, energy conservation in this context is usually a joke. You have NGOs going down to Africa and distributing flourescent light bulbs to people to use instead of incandescents. Why not just use the same funds to subsidize them in the North where most of this energy gets used, so that they're just as cheap as the old light bulbs.

Carbon neutrality is a joke. The only way to fight global warming is to reduce the use of fossil-fuel based energy.

To paraphrase the old saying,

Carbon offsetting to prevent global warming is like paying ugly people not to have sex for virginity.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:29 AM on August 23, 2006


Oh, and crunchland:

If you can afford to do both, you're probably in the pocket of the Man.

I'm jus' sayin'.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:31 AM on August 23, 2006


Carbon credits are an indirect, market-based 'solution.'

For many people, the capital needed to retrofit their homes with solar energy or to buy a hybrid (or ethanol) car just isn't there. Power companies don't have much of an incentive to offer green power plans, and auto companies killed the electric car. Given the lack of other options, buying carbon credits doesn't seem like such a ghoulish plan if you try your best to have a high-milage car and an energy-efficient house.

A better critique of the solution is that low incomes can't support even buying carbon credits, there would need to be a tax break or government credit given for the initiative to be universal.
posted by cowbellemoo at 5:59 AM on August 23, 2006


Sub Pop is green.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:08 AM on August 23, 2006


Interesting to note that BP's big announcement is on the heels of news reports out of Washington yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency along with two other federal departments will be involved in an investigation into BP's Alaskan operations and it's Aug.9th oil pipe leak.
***
What a coincidence that this should come amid allegations of "chronic neglect" re: the North Slope pipeline.

If you think BP was able to put this entire project together in less than two weeks in response to the pipeline problem, you don't really have a good understanding of how large corporations work.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:28 AM on August 23, 2006


pardonyou? writes "If you think BP was able to put this entire project together in less than two weeks in response to the pipeline problem..."

Well freakin' duh. We're talking about strategic timing here, not BP pulling a big public initiative out of its arse in less time than it takes to schedule a couple of meetings.

The point is that there's a whole lot less to the "Beyond Petroleum" nonsense than BP would have you believe.
posted by clevershark at 7:01 AM on August 23, 2006


Well, at least someone is proposing that we pay for the harm that using petroleum fuels entails. Why don't they just add it at the pump? But Big Earl definitely shouldn't be the one "managing" the money; it should be a tax.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:24 AM on August 23, 2006


Carbon credits seem like a great idea for ofsetting stuff you do out of necessity: for example, people need to fly in airplanes and drive trucks, etc. Doing this for Hummers is like having a salad every evening and a Big Mac every lunch- you're still not really eating healthy until you just stop eating Big Macs.

What Deathalicious said. It's not some magical trade-off system where it's okay as long as you right the wrong later. Just stop driving the damn Hummer.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:37 AM on August 23, 2006



posted by mike3k at 8:44 AM on August 23, 2006


It's not some magical trade-off system where it's okay as long as you right the wrong later. Just stop driving the damn Hummer.

Why are some assuming this will be done in bad faith? That's confusing the idea of carbon credit with hypocrisy, which no one's needed an excuse for. There's always going to be people who don't understand the concept of conservation, or people who are just disengenuous about their charity -- just write them off, don't cite them as proof against any positive effects a carbon credit system might have.

Despite any cynical greenwashing motives BP might have behind the plan (certainly not a fully-fledged 'transition to green' business model), it's still one of the first mainstream attempts to give consumers agency for environmental ethics.

Take the good with the bad.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:18 AM on August 23, 2006


The point is that there's a whole lot less to the "Beyond Petroleum" nonsense than BP would have you believe.

I agree with that point. But I disagree there's only one "point" being discussed -- seems to me there are at least two in the original post itself: (1) this initiative doesn't do much, and (2) it's suspicious that this should come out "on the heels" of the pipeline disaster. I was addressing the latter, and I interpreted the comments I quoted to suggest this initiative was made up to deflect attention (which, by the way, I don't think was an unreasonable interpretation of the comments -- your "well, duh" notwithstanding). If the suggestion was only that the roll-out timing was adjusted in light of the pipeline fiasco, I suppose that is possible, but presumably only within a very short window of when the project would have "gone live" anyway.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:25 AM on August 23, 2006


Um. BP is full of shit.

This is some Kim Stanley Robinson Sci-fi bullshit. Carbon credits are idiotic and will never work and BP knows it.
posted by tkchrist at 11:21 AM on August 23, 2006


More on today's Marketplace.
posted by pwb503 at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2006


If you do it for a year they'll greenwash your car for free!
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:16 PM on August 23, 2006


Trees just store up the carbon, and as soon as they die and decompose, or get burned in a forest fire, every atom of carbon that they bound up gets released again.

Trees don't just live and die - they also tend to reproduce and their descendants will continue to capture carbon (at least until a pesky human chops them down and turns them into toilet paper...) The bottom line is that the more trees we have in this world at any one time the more carbon that's locked up. Given our current situation, the more trees, the better.

Also, apparently trees give off methane, another greenhouse gas.

The researchers that made that discovery now say their work has been widely misinterpreted by the media, and that the climatic benefits gained from reforestation far exceed this relatively small negative effect.

And there's no way that they can accurately record all of the CO2 that is going into gasoline

Since it can't be done *accurately* then why even try right?

The only way to fight global warming is to reduce the use of fossil-fuel based energy.

Now that I agree with 100%.
posted by gooddoggy at 5:49 AM on August 24, 2006


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