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💬 "Your ‘Carbon Footprint’ is a Marketing Ruse"

The Carbon Copy

Photo by George Evans / Unsplash

Host: Stephen Lacey
Guest: Mark Kaufman | Climate Reporter | Mashable
Category: 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:47] “I […] talk[ed] to people that are most informed about the origin of the term carbon footprint. […] Historians and researchers that have basically devoted their academic and professional life to documenting and assessing how fossil fuel giants have actively misled the public on climate change broadly, but the causes of and solutions to the changing climate.

[9:59] “In the early 2000s BP hire[d] PR professionals to create this advertising campaign called “Beyond Petroleum.” […] And they wanted to promote the idea of the carbon footprint. […] [They launched the carbon footprint calculator, so] people could calculate the things that we all do in our normal lives, like buying food, or doing something wild like traveling to visit our parents. They [could] add up how their actions are contributing to climate change.”

[11:11] “It was so wildly successful because […] the US EPA now has a carbon footprint calculator, the New York Times does. […] The impact today is highly, highly visible. […] BP [did this campaign] in a very clever way to get people thinking about how they can do something about climate change, while they haven't done much about it, other than produce millions and millions of gallons of oil and gas each year. […] I hate to give props to an advertising campaign that has actively deceived the public, but […] they did a phenomenal job. And historians that research this sort of way to manipulate people's thinking about climate change and the carbon footprint agree.”

[17:28] “[The] PR professional […] John Kenny […] acknowledged it was all a devious marketing effort. It was not a sincere effort by BP to promote some sort of shift to low carbon energy or renewable energy. And he actually was able to get his experience in the New York Times and announced that in 2006. […] “I guess, looking at it now, Beyond Petroleum is just advertising. It's become mere marketing. Perhaps it always was. Instead of a genuine attempt to engage the public in the debate, or a corporate rallying cry to change the paradigm.” […] And even today, British Petroleum is still tweeting things, encouraging people to calculate their carbon footprint. […] It's crazy how this has festered and got people considering even the smallest things in their life that are really just negligible or insignificant compared to what oil giants are doing every day.”

[19:43] “I think it's extremely encouraging that many of the solutions for stabilizing the planet's temperature are already known. I think that's superb. We know how to largely produce power in this country without relying on fossil fuels in the decades ahead. Not everyone has to care about climate change for us to fix the problem. And that is a wonderful thing, because not everyone will care about climate change. A great example of this is the Montreal Protocol in the late 1980s, when global nations agreed to phase out and ban certain chemicals that were degrading the ozone layer. Huge success. And […] we wouldn't have gotten there if instead of having global nations all agreed together to phase out these ozone depleting chemicals, if the solution was to try to reduce your ozone footprint, try to use less hairspray, folks. That wouldn't have gotten us anywhere. But that shows what can happen if the system as a whole changes.”

[22:18] “Individual actions can matter. And of course, it is stupid to unnecessarily buy single use plastics and things like that. But no one should ever think that calculating their carbon footprint on whether they should visit their parents or go see a Rolling Stones concert should be what matters in the big picture. CO2 levels in the atmosphere there are the highest they've been in around 3 million years. The carbon footprint calculator isn't going to solve that. What's going to solve it is fundamental change.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 22 min | 🗓️ 12/15/2021
✅ Time saved: 20 min

Additional Links:
Article: “The Carbon Footprint Sham”