Wednesday, 12 December 2007

There's a lot of dodgy greenwash out there

Over the past few months, the WLT has been approached by several businesses, that after doing extensive research, came to the WLT because they decided that many other organisations were just not transparent enough. They also came to us because it was clear that some of the carbon offsetting organisations were simply in the business of making money. With major financial institutions, such as Allied Irish Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers and others choosing to support the World Land Trust we know we are on the right track.

When I look at other websites, I am always astounded how difficult it often is to actually find out anything about the organisation itself. Who are the staff, what do they do? Who are the Trustees, what is their expertise? Who are they endorsed by? And the Annual Report and Accounts. And last, but not least, what are their real achievements?

We also make a point of being available, so that when a donor, whether it is for £25 or £250,000, phones or emails they are dealt with by someone who is knowledgeable, and can answer most of their questions.

But at present, it is certainly caveat emptor -- there are too many organisations saving forests, offsetting carbon, without any real substance behind them. It's actually quite difficult to do it properly -- long term monitoring is not easy to set up. Which is why we are confident that we provide a 5* service. But monitoring reforestation for 20 years, ensuring that the ownership is secure is complex and time consuming, requiring first rate partners, with extensive experience.

We do not claim it is easy -- we know, it is nothing like as easy as it is often made out to be. We do not claim to be the cheapest, in fact we don't really like doing carbon offsets at all. We like saving biodiversity -- avoided deforestation. It's not only cheaper to buy existing forests, it's a much more effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. And this is not bandwagon jumping -- we were doing all these things six years ago, before it became trendy. And we will still be doing it when it is no longer fashionable. The only problem with the current vogue, is that it has allowed a lot of operations to raise a lot of money, with no guarantee that in 20 years time their forests will still be in existence.

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