Friday, June 01, 2007

May is so over

I just read a short, but interesting piece in the Indy.

And without apology, but due accreditation, print it fullishly here, with a few highlights of my own:

All goods may be labelled with 'carbon footprint'

A new eco label may show the environmental damage done goods and services in shops. The Government has begun a "carbon footprint" project to work out how to count emissions from everything from crisps to flights [Let us pray the enviROI derived is genuine, and that we, the public, are able to get to grips with it such that it is not just another vast, money-sucking box-ticking exercise].

The scheme, which could be the first step towards an international standard [like all previous efforts at local - we seem to have two health standards already, so the packs are going to get pretty crowed with this guff - and global cooperation have been successful so far. No reason not to try, but I do trust the basis is not so much to line consultants' pockets in the effort as to actually move policies] for measuring the greenhouse effect, will [well, that's more positive] be used on packaging to allow consumers to weigh up [so it's back to us doing the tricky stuff again, is it? And doubtless fined if we don't do it right. What about a bit more effort on what goes into the system at the front end????!] the climate change impact [please.... make it an effective measure!] of different products [I... we... are going to stand there, assessing - if we are able - every item going into our baskets. This is asking us to weigh apples vs. oranges, literally]

The Carbon Trust, a government body briefed to create a low carbon economy [with how much money to be blown on salaries and comms, with almost no ROI and/or enviROI that is publicly accountable to an effective degree?] is developing the scheme with companies such as [why these guys? Are they enough? Are they being funded or helping out for free...if so big up to them. If not... hmnnn.] Tesco, Boots, B&Q, Marks & Spencer and BT. A panel of technical experts will take around 18 months [Dome. Olympics. NHS. Air traffic. Need I infer more?] to finalise the measurement of stages such as production and transport.

Announcing the plan yesterday, the Environment Minister, Ian Pearson, said: "Businesses are looking for ways [Looking's good. Finding is better. Committing the best] to reduce their impact on the environment. To help them achieve that we need a consistent way [Just like the health standards, eh?] to measure these impacts that businesses recognise, trust and understand." [Let's not forget the consumer recognising, trusting, understanding... and being able to engage with in a meaningful way, as well]

That's an awful lot of doubts I have raised from just a few paras. I wonder why? Maybe it is because this consumer doesn't recognise much so far in this area that has made sense, trusts little these protagonists do to actually have my kids' future enviROI at heart, or ever get shared in a way that is understandable of capable of rational engagement.

But we can hope this time it will be different. Here's hoping the mainstream media stay on their case (packaging pun intended).

Guardian - Carbon labels to help shoppers save planet

Treehugger - Carbon Footprint Labels for UK Produce

In the piece I read, in the Independent, the announcement was littered with words like 'may' and 'could', which usually presages a lot of money getting spent on a bunch of consultants, and then sod all of any use happening once the requisite boxes have been ticked.

There is also the small matter of what happened with the health composition labelling. In some places we get a traffic light system, and in others a row of figures that look like the periodic table.

It's going to get pretty crowded on the side of each pack, and I have my doubts anyone will have the slightest clue what they are looking at, much less be able to make a coherent decision based on it. I for one have not bothered to scrutinise each item I select. For start, what am I comparing? Apples and oranges? Well, of course a Spanish orange may be better than a South African apple, but who on earth is going to get into that????!

If there is any serious intent to make a difference here, it needs to be at the in-point, not throwing it on the poor blooming consumer to try and sort out the fudge government and industry are trying to shuffle around.

So do I feel my kids' future is being protected by this? Well, may... be... not.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Peter, 'May' is, and always has been, one of the biggest obfuscative words in the English language.

I just wonder, with some degree of amazement, how much money MAY be spent on this and just what the outcomes MAY be. It sounds like this MAY well turn out to be yet another huge white elephant funded out of the taxpayers already largely empty pockets.

No apparent targets, no schedule other than an end date, no clearly defined plan or aims, no indication of any defined stage reporting points and no definitely required outcome - what an insane way to run a project!! And yet the minister yesterday was 'announcing the plan'!!

Still, I suppose it will provide some people with a job for 18 months or so, and our respected governments have had a cracking track record of running similar projects - your own list is a good starting point.

And did you notice this morning that along with the Smoking Gestapo (to snoop on people who may dare to smoke where they are no longer permitted to after June 30th), we are also going to have a 'Butt Gestapo' - to fine people £80 for dropping a cigarette end! Local councils have been given >£27 Million for enforcement - they've probably raised this by reducing the renewables grants handed out via the Low Carbon Building Fund.

I think I MAY go and just throw myself off a cliff in disgust! Thank god that this is the 'butt' end of commisar Tone's reign.