Chevy saves the planet for $4 per car?

December 2, 2010

by Steve Milloy
December 2, 2010,

General Motors has apparently had an epiphany. GM now “realizes” that it “shares the planet with everyone” and wants “to do more to help keep it clean.” So GM has pledged to buy carbon offsets representing one year’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions from the 1.9 million Chevys projected to be sold during 2011.

Under the Chevy Carbon Reduction program, GM will spend up to $40 million over five years offsetting about 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

There is much less here than meets the eye.

First, while GM describes the program’s cost as “substantial,” it’s really not. GM expects to sell about 10 million Chevys over the next five years — so the actual expenditure works out to about $4 per car. That triviality will be matched by the program’s environmental impact.

Human activities emit about 40 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually. So if all goes as planned, GM’s program will reduce global human greenhouse gas emissions by about 0.004 percent over the next five years. GM calls this “a start” and denies that the program is “greenwashing.”

In fact, GM states on its web site that, “This is really about making a positive statement to our customers. And letting them know that we are committed to doing the right thing.” But merely claiming green-ness while accomplishing nothing tangible for the environment fits the definition of greenwashing perfectly — “the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly,” according to Wikipedia’s definition of the term.

And it’s quite possible that the Chevy Carbon Reduction program will accomplish even less than the company believes since it involves the purchase of so-called “carbon offsets.” GM’s $4-per-Chevy expense will be directed to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, an Oregon-based non-profit that will “invest” the money in purportedly climate-friendly projects like planting trees, and solar and wind power.

But carbon offsets can be murky endeavors — so much so than when the Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported on them in 2008, concerns about their legitimacy overflowed into the report’s title, “Carbon Offsets: The U.S. Voluntary Market Is Growing, but Quality Assurance Poses Challenges for Market Participants.”

The basic problem with offsets is that buyers can be ripped-off fairly easily. Offset sellers claim the proceeds go toward efforts to prevent the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But as greenhouse gas emissions are invisible, challenging to estimate, and the accounting for these projects is typically not open to public scrutiny, buyers must rely on the credibility of the brokers and project operators. The GAO found that “the information provided to consumers by retailers offered limited assurance of credibility.” In other words, buyers beware.

Aside from any schemes and scams run by individual offset brokers and project operators, there is the overlay of the radical environmental agenda on the offset industry. GM’s offset broker, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), is run by a former employee of the radical Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). BEF’s offsets are “certified” by an organization called Green-e, the board of directors of which includes members of NRDC and the radical Union of Concerned Scientists — as well as BEF’s senior vice president. So, not only are BEF and Green-e not independent of one another at the management level, they are threaded together ideologically by ties to radical environmentalism, a movement whose members will say and do almost anything to advance their social and political agenda. And GM is going to rely on assurances from BEF and Green-e about offsetting invisible greenhouse gas emissions.

Should any of this matter to consumers? Who cares whether GM scams and gets scammed for a few dollars per car? Bailouts aside, taxpayers and consumers should already be angry with the “Big Three.” Chrysler, Ford and GM are all members of the NRDC-run U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a big business-radical environmentalist coalition that lobbied for cap and trade. If the Big Three and their green buddies had succeeded in foisting cap and trade upon us during the 111th Congress, millions of U.S. jobs and trillions of dollars in GDP would have vanished during the ensuing years.

What separates Chrysler and Ford from GM presently is that, cutting through all the nonsense, the Chevy Carbon Reduction program is little more than a $40 million wealth transfer from consumers via GM to anti-consumer radical environmentalists and their allies. The good news for GM is that when I get a new car in 2011, no one will need to worry about any emissions from a Chevy.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).

3 Responses to “Chevy saves the planet for $4 per car?”

  1. Fil Salustri Says:

    The Chevy carbon offset program is just advertising. Why are you surprised? And all of your innuendo about cronyism in the various organizations involved here have nothing to do with the facts or science of climate change, but rather the politics of it.
    To conflate GM’s bullsh!t with the real issues of climate change is irrational and doesn’t help anyone.
    It is a fallacy to confound the science and the facts with the politics of selfish, greedy people.
    Milloy, you’re not helping anyone here but yourself with your whiny complaints.
    Argue the facts, or get off the stump. As things are, you’re just a bore.

  2. […] the rest here: Chevy saves the planet for $4 per car? « Green Hell Blog هذه التدوينة كُتبت ضمن التصنيف غير مصنف. الأوسمة: action, […]

  3. bobrgeologist Says:

    The premise of AGW is based on man’s use of fossil fuels that has caused runaway warming of the planet. Unfortunately for its devotees who plan to make billions of $$ from
    this sorry hypothesis, is natural forces did not cooperate. We began warming from the Little Ice Age around 1300 AD (believed due to solar minimum), warmed to another maximum by 1940 AD, cooled to 1970 starting concerns of another Ice Age, began warming until late 1990’s and has not warmed a bit since. It has been calculated that a total warming of 0.7 deg C has occurred since man began heavy use of hydrocarbon fuels. So, there is no doubt that alarmists of dangerous, unstoppable warming have been egregiously
    denying the true behavior of world climates.
    Motivated by Green stupidity,political desire
    to gain control and tax energy use, but most unforgivable is the harm climate scientists have done to science in general in a shameful scramble for the almighty dollar.

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