Sunday, November 20, 2005

Carbon Footprints and BP Oil

As more and more people begin to see how oil is no longer a viable resource they will begin to seek out companies that offer alternatives. One of the few oil companies that is beginning to shift in an acceptable direction for research and implementation of alternative energy sources is British Petroleum (BP). BP is the largest investor of all the major oil companies in solar, wind and geo-thermal industries. However, they are also heavily behind clean coal like their competitor Chevron and have been ridiculed for recent environmental "dodgings" in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay involving oil spills. Plus, parts of their "Renewables" section of their website doesn't work and investors and users can't really find out anything about where BP stands on solar and renewable energy. Not a good start.

Yet, there was one piece of the website that I thought was interesting: the Carbon Footprint indicator. Its a online tool that assigns values to certain activities/items in your household like taking a bath vs. taking a shower or how many cars you have and their mileage, all to show a user what their carbon footprint is on the earth. It also includes plane travel which is something often forgotten in a world focused on the vehicle.

Most of what these oil companies are marketing in their P.R. efforts is a type of greenwashing. It's telling citizens that they are working hard to focus on renewable energy resources and growing them when in reality they're still focused on age-old practices of ploughing and plundering land and sea-bed for hidden oil reserves (which is why oil and gas careers are booming right now). While showing people their carbon footprint is a fun and educational way of communicating the effects of an oil economy, remaining unchanged in company practices and treatment of the natural environment brings to light a larger issue based on integrity within that corporation. Yes we know progress is slow, but progress is also taking a step forward and not trying to cover up or lead astray your investors, clients and customers.

3 comments:

Matthew said...

Hmm, BP only has the carbon calculator set up for the US or the UK. No Canada, let alone China. I'll just assume my footprint is smaller than all my neighbors, though, since I'm the only one not burning coal in a bucket to keep warm.

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