After spending Christmas in New York and Florida, flown to Scotland and back this weekend for my sister's wedding party and having already booked my next New York trip in April, I've decided that I can't continue to obsess about the environment when my carbon footprint is as big as the Jolly (not so) Green Giant.
My wife discovered a website called Carbonfund.org that enables you calculate how much CO2 you're responsible for and offset it by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. The cost for my not inconsiderable contribution to polluting the upper atmosphere this year: £60.
Considering my average yearly travel will at least include 3 or 4 returns to New York, a return to the US west coast, a trip to Eastern Canada and a good half dozen return trips within the UK and Europe I think that £60 is a small amount to pay to help lift the guilt from my shoulders, as well as make up for my part in Global Warming.
So, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week responded to a call to cut down his international travel as "impractical", it really was a missed opportunity. Blair went on to say, "I personally think these things are a bit impractical actually to expect people to do that...It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere".
If the Prime Minister was serious about environmental issues, he should have, like Conservative Leader David Cameron, long ago started off-setting his personal travel. It wouldn't have cost much, it would have been marvellous (much needed) PR for him and more importantly it would have provided opportunities to promote carbon neutrality scheme, which would have been expanding upon at great length by our hungry media who have hours of airtime, acres of newsprint and millions of pixels to fill.
Instead, a Number 10 spokesman later said that Mr Blair WILL offset emissions from his holiday flights - a begrudged, face-saving gesture from a spin doctor. However, the Prime Minister's own website records that he only offset himself and not the other 4 members of his family, "Asked to clarify whether the Prime Minister was offsetting his own travel, or that of the whole family, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that it was his personal travel, but the PMOS was not going to get involved further".
The British Government has a plan in place to be carbon neutral, but not until 2012. As a frequent business traveller the Prime Minister could have, as a result of this publicity, led the way in encouraging individuals and businesses alike to take personal responsibility for their carbon footprint.
Sadly, our Prime Minsiter has revealed that his environmental credentials don't stand up to scrutiny.