Many have raised questions about the Live Earth concerts’ aims, from Bob Geldof to a range of sustainability and environmental activists like Dr John Barrett from the Stockholm Environment Institute: “Holding large concerts to highlight environmental concerns and cut carbon emissions just seems ridiculous. What planet do these people live on?”

To some, the answer might be planet Gore 08. To others the answer might be the climate change industry planet.

One good thing that has emerged from this concert is questioning of the carbon offset industry and their vested interest in both environmental guilt and apocalyptic scenarios of doom on the one hand and rock stars continuing to fly private jets on the other.

To rational environmentalists, the entire argument in favour of carbon offsetting has as much logic as the Australian Government running a national campaign against childhood obesity by saying the answer is liposuction.

It also raises the issue of whether in a manner similar to the time before the Protestant reformation, that the carbon offset industry is taking on the mantle of the Catholic priests that Luther so despised for their use of indulgences.

Only nowadays the path to heaven appears to require three hail Als and a $599 premium carbon offset package.

The Guardian in the UK ran a detailed expose of the carbon offset industry last month entitled “The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry” in which it catalogued failings that went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Dan Welch summed up the almost Monty Pythonesque underpinning of the industry in an article recently in Ethical Consumer magazine: “Offsets are an imaginary commodity created by deducting what you hope happens from what you guess would have happened.”

If you live in a brightly-lit mansion in Mosman, drive a Porsche SUV and take the family on European ski holidays, via a stopover in Dubai, your carbon offset package can put your conscience at ease. If you are a single working mum who takes public transport but cannot afford to offset your carbon emissions then you should be guilt-stricken that you are not carbon neutral.

The world clearly has not moved on much from early sixteenth century Wittenberg.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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