Is domestic Green Power doing anything?

We buy 100% GreenPowerABC AM on Wednesday on Green power:

JEFF ANGEL: Polluters are using our money which we’re paying as a premium for GreenPower, in order to report lower emissions, when in fact they’re not doing anything.

DAVID MARK: Jeff Angel is the director of Total Environment Centre in Sydney. He says the schemes don’t work, because they don’t reduce Australia’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

JEFF ANGEL: The fact is that the big polluters, like the big coal-fired power stations are supposed to be reducing their pollution by a certain amount, however if an individual buys GreenPower, that effort should be additional to the efforts of those polluters.

Your individual effort is simply taken over by the polluters and it’s not additional to the polluters’ efforts.

The story itself is about the promotion of Green Power, with the ACCC ruling that slogans like “a simple switch for you, significant results for our environment” and “you have the power to make a real difference” are misleading.

It highlights an uncomfortable fact — that switching to Green Power might reduce your personal emissions, but doesn’t actually reduce overall emissions.

I pay the extra for Green Power. Is it worth it?

As it happens Greenpeace got in touch this week to clarify something on a couple of my old posts on kangaroo meat. (In short: they do not have an actual position on whether or not eating kangaroo is good for the environment.) I took the opportunity to ask them what they thought about Green Power.

John Hepburn of Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy campaign agreed that people needed to be clear that buying GreenPower doesn’t cut emissions, due to flaws in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, but noted that “buying certified green power is still a useful thing to do in that it drives demand for renewable energy”.

He also said that “probably the most important thing for people to do is to get active in the climate campaign – calling for more political action on climate change. Because ultimately it is a political issue and we aren’t going to solve it through voluntary action”, and noted that buying offsets are a waste of money. “Instead of offsetting, we’d encourage people to donate money to a climate activist organisation – or better still, join one or start their own.”

Amen to that, I can see a lot of parallels to my own campaigning. Using public transport yourself all the time isn’t enough to make it better — you have to get active.

And in that spirit I’d like to insert a blatant plug of my own: Help the fight for better public transport by joining the Public Transport Users Association.