G.E. brings good irony to offsets

ge-card.jpgOffsets are spreading like kudzu:

G.E. will introduce the GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard, which allows cardholders to forgo a 1 percent cash rebate on purchases and earmark that amount for projects that reduce greenhouse gases.

General Electric does acknowledge some of the oxymoronic irony of pushing an Earth-friendly credit card:

It’s important to keep in mind that we can’t “shop away” global climate change.

Duh! U.S. (and Chinese) greenhouse emissions are so high thanks in part to credit cards, which have allowed us to consume far beyond our means (and to consume huge amounts of products made in carbon-intensive China).

But there is more irony. As Michael J. Brune, executive director for the Rainforest Action Network, notes:

It’s ironic. G.E. supplies parts for coal-fired plants, so its credit card offsets emissions it helps create.

G.E. is not the only one offsetting consumer purchases. Check out ClimateCooler. At least they specificy what offests they will be buying:

Stores then pay Cooler a fee to invest in renewable energy or pollution prevention projects that eliminate the emissions associated with your shopping.

I’ll be very interested to see what offsets G.E. buys. They only say:

Each Earth Day (April 22), those Rewards will be used to purchase and retire greenhouse gas emissions credits through GE AES Greenhouse Gas Services, a joint venture between GE Energy Financial Services and The AES Corporation, which will identify and invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. GHG credits generated by these projects are developed in accordance with a rigorous and comprehensive standard that will ensure these credits are scientifically verified and provide measurable environmental benefit.

G.E. does acknowledge in small print that offsets should be the last thing you do:

The most important thing for all of us – individuals as well as companies and other organizations – is to use energy more wisely by being as efficient as possible in everything we do. It is also important that, whenever possible, we purchase renewable energy through our utility providers and use alternative fuels in our vehicles. The final thing to do is to offset those remaining impacts that can’t be avoided.

Let’s hope their offsets focus on efficiency and renewables, too.

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