Yesterday I stumbled on a brand new point of sale of our greatest national electricity provider ENOVOS; at the entrance was a small exhibit with a few brochures, among those prominently one about the myclimate carbon offset fund.
The text in the leaflet is typical in the line of “make them a bad conscience, they will pay more easily”:
“Quotidiennement, chacun de nous génère des émissions de CO2 qui ont un impact négatif sur notre climat….La plupart du temps nous provoquons ces émissions de façon inconsciente…” Approximate translation: “All of us cause daily emissions of CO2, which have a negative impact on climate… Most of the time we do this unconsciously”.
Here one starts with the hypothesis that our CO2 emissions have a negative impact on climate: what is that impact, how “negative” is it, how do our emissions compare to natural sources etc… A thousand questions come to mind, but myclimate makes a quick and definitive statement, and prepares the culpability feeling with the next sentence: we may be unconscious, but we are sinners nevertheless. The wording is subtle, the aim is clear. As in the 15th century, we may buy our salvation by spending on carbon offsets.
The monk Johannes Tetzel is reported having preached: “Sobald der Gülden im Becken klingt / im huy die Seel im Himmel springt”. There is no big difference with the writings and suggestions of myclimate.
A. Bauer has written in the paper “Die Weltwoche” (12May09) a well researched article “Windige Geschäfte mit heisser Luft” (in German), concentrating for the major part on the Swiss myclimate organization. He gives a telling example of the efficiency of the indulgence money spent: myclimate has for instance one big project Qory Q’oncha in Peru: traditional wood burning fire-places should be replaced by more efficient ovens. This seems to be a reasonable object; but the shock comes when one analyzes what part of the original money finds its way to the Indians: starting with 5.18 Mill. CHF (Swiss franks) a meager 0.16 Mill. CHF reaches its destination:
85% of the original sums are spent in administrative and intermediate players costs!
Another problem is that the new ovens are massively rejected by the local people on different grounds, and acceptance rate is less than 50%.
The Luxembourg branch of myclimate (myclimate.lu) is a partnership of 3 organizations:
1. “EnergyAgence“, an umbrella holding the Luxembourg government, Enovos and the SEO, a company operating a big pumped storage facility in Vianden, Luxembourg.
2. Enovos (again!)
3. The public research center CRPHT (Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor).
As the government is a partner of Enovos and provides a big part of the financing of the CRPHT, it is clear that the myclimate indulgences have all the official backings. The arguments pushing us to pay for our sins are classic: the web page of myclimate.lu parrots on it’s page on climate change the usual 4AR IPCC stuff, ignoring any recent findings and non-consensus research (and no comment on the many past scandals) and concluding with the now classic year 2100 bright-red globe.
I have a very uneasy feeling on this. The indulgence-train seems running at full steam, and everybody except the poor citizen finds its reward in power, good-feeling and money.
Let me conclude with a picture by Hans Holbein the Younger showing the indulgence business in the 15th century:
Is history really repeating? If yes, remember Martin Luther!