Singapore, 1st October 2012
While we have already moved into October (time flies!) I ponder on an article that I read in this morning’s Singapore newspaper reporting that one of the leading hotel operators (Hilton) here has put into place a new carbon footprint offset scheme. My initial reaction is that such schemes are to make people feel good about themselves, while continuing to spent energy as they did before. The difference being that they bought carbon credits (in these case in Malaysia and Cambodia) to offset the amount of carbon they produce through their energy consumption. I still do not fully understand how they make the conversion from energy consumption to the acres of forests they buy, but I assume they have done their homework and will therefore give this one the benefit of the doubt.
In fact the article started with the statement that attendees to weddings and other events and conferences at the hotel here could feel good about themselves now as with the new carbon credit program all events and functions at the hotels’ venues energy usage were covered. Yeah…no more guilt feeling! Great marketing too! Is it that simple? There are so many variables, further more how to compare apples and bananas just to use a metaphor? Yes, we can quantify the infra-structural power set up and assumingly calculate the maximum load at full use, but what about all the auxiliary energy zapping equipment that is brought in at functions (including set up and cleaning equipment). Also not every function lasts the same length. Still assuming you manage to calculate an overall maximum energy footprint, how does it match up to an exact natural-habitat-carbon-neutralising foot print? Surely some trees absorb/convert/”recycle” more carbon than others? Trees come in all shapes forms and sizes and are subject to different climates and weather conditions; how to monitor your trees over life and keep up the bench marking over time?
I may seem a bit cynic about this, but in my mind the best way is to tackle this at the source…the design and specifications! Buying carbon credits seem to be a desperate attempt in situations where proper energy saving and other sustainable measure seem too much of an effort.
Light Watch 3-148: To test myself I logged into a site called www.carbonneutral.com.au and inputted some figures to get a feel of the process. See for yourself, it’s that easy!