The BBC programme Panorama had an interesting edition yesterday when they challenged one of their reporters to 'go green' for a year in an effort to reduce the family's carbon imprint by 40%, the idea being to see what the most practical steps would be and how painful it would be.
There were a few surprises, certainly given the amount which can be saved by switching to energy lamps and switching off electrical appliances when not is use (my printer , which I hardly ever use, is now switched OFF). Against that there seemed to be very long pay back periods for double glaxing and loft insulation.
Of course, doing away with the car and not flying were big contributors to saving energy. I had an interview today, which had me cycling in the rain to the station, catching an intcity to Utrecht, waiting out in a wet and windy bus shelter at the station to catch a bus to the office in Nieuwegein where I had my interview... and a half hour later I was making the trip back, arrving back about three hours after I left. Apart from the wet weather, it really wasn't so bad, but to be honest, I would rather have a job nearer to where I work than make the long-ish journey, either way, best to be without a car. However, when it comes to practicalities, there are only so many appropriate jobs available and one has to be considered very lucky to find one such job in, say, cycling distance from your home. And, then this is part of the explanation why the roads and trains and buses are always so full in the rush hours.... even with the best will, it is not easy 'do the right thing'.
An interesting point to note is that as I was going past the offices of Amsterdam Zuid-Oost in the train I looked through the windows to see everyone, yes everyone, sitting in front of a computer screen. Do they really need to be in an office, or at least do they really need to be there everyday and everybody at the same time?
Going back to the panorama programme they looked at offsetting one's carbon emissions, whereby there are sites which calculate how much you can pay to offset the emissions of your flight. The presentor went to Jamaica to test this out and he was told that his journey would cost just fifteen pounds to offset. A very small amount. The calculation seemed to relate to the amount of energy which would be saved in ten years of using energy saving lamps in a hotel in Jamaica. When one realises that such a flight uses as much as a years electricity for a typical family home, fifteen pounds did not seem much to pay as an offset. Too good to be true and some expert said that carbon offsetting is not the answer, maybe just a bit better than not doing anything.
The family concluded that reducing one's direct carbon imprint was really not so difficult or hard after all but they did say they would go back to having at least one flight a year. I am afraid that for myself, it'll be a few more flights than that!