Murdoch to achieve carbon neutrality with credits, but Fox employees call them a sham

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

In a recent article, London-based magazine Environment Finance reported that Rupert Murdoch will take steps "to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from his media empire" -- which includes Fox News Channel -- "to zero by 2010." However, in addition to Fox News' Sean Hannity and John Gibson, FoxNews.com posts have directly attacked the purchasing of carbon credits to offset one's "carbon footprint" and have mocked Al Gore's reported use of them.

In a May 10 online article, London-based magazine Environment Finance reported that News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will take steps "to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from his media empire" -- which includes Fox News Channel -- "to zero by 2010." According to the article, "News Corp will adopt energy efficiency measures and buy renewable energy to cut emissions as much as possible, then offset the rest using carbon credits. The firm will start buying credits from a wind farm project in India this year." However, in addition to attacks by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and John Gibson, FoxNews.com posts have directly attacked the purchasing of carbon credits to offset one's "carbon footprint" and have mocked former Vice President Al Gore's reported use of them.

On March 25, following Gore's appearance on Capitol Hill to testify on the effects of global warming, Fox News business correspondent Terry Keenan wrote: "Get ready to hear a lot about carbon-neutral living in the days and months ahead. It's the new euphemism for Escalade-driving environmentalists who 'purchase' carbon credits to assuage any guilt about their private jets and 20,000 square foot summer homes." Keenan later added: "How do these carbon offsets actually work? Well, like a charm if you're in the business of buying your way out of looking like a hypocrite." He concluded: "Yet Gore and the other greenies seem to be sleeping well at night, content that all of this paper shuffling allows them to live in carbon neutral bliss. What power these little credits possess -- conferring upon their owners the right to consume carbon with abandon, while enjoying the moral high ground to lecture to the rest of us to cut back on energy."

Additionally, in a May 11, 2006, post to his "Junk Science" column on FoxNews.com, Steven Milloy, adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, asserted that "[t]he goal of becoming 'carbon neutral' " is to "alleviate your guilt," adding: "The more entrepreneurial of these web sites [those that calculate your carbon footprint] then try to capitalize (literally) on any feelings of guilt you may have by offering to relieve your conscience (and wallet) through the purchase of so-called 'carbon offsets.' " He concluded: "Your carbon footprint? Carbon offset-buyer beware. It's a gimmick designed to part you from your money without providing any measurable environmental benefit."

Hannity has been critical of Gore's advocacy of environmental measures to reduce global warming, in particular, attacking Gore's reported use of carbon offsets. Examples of his criticism include:

  • Discussing "lies" about global warming on the April 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, Hannity claimed that "carbon credits are a sham" and asserted: "Big environmental lie No. 2: It's OK if Learjet liberals fly around in private jets, because they buy carbon offsets."
  • During the March 25 edition of Hannity's America, while discussing Gore's March 21 testimony on global warming before the House and Senate environment committees, Hannity asked Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), to "[e]xplain this ridiculous concept that liberals are trying to throw on us about carbon offsets that they can buy sort of like indulgences."

    Johnson replied: "With carbon offsets, you are essentially saying you are allowing rich liberals ... to pay for a little kid somewhere in a third world country to plant a tree on your behalf to help clean up the environment. You are essentially saying, 'I don't care enough about the environment to take steps in my own life, so I'm going to spend my money to encourage some little kid somewhere in a third world country and ask him to do something." Hannity added: "I won't stop polluting the planet, I'll just, you know, plant a tree and then my conscience is free."

  • On the March 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, after Air America's EcoTalk host Betsy Rosenberg noted that Gore was reportedly using carbon offsets to minimize his ecological footprint, Hannity stated: "Carbon offsets is a crock, and you know it." He later claimed: "If you're Al Gore and a liberal, you can be a hypocrite."

During the February 27 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, Gibson claimed that, "instead of cutting back on his energy, he's using his greenbacks to buy energy credits." He later asked: "Is Al Gore an environmental fraud?" Like Hannity, Gibson hosted TCPR's Johnson, who said of Gore's environmental measures: "As far as the vouchers and the carbon credits and things like that, it seems like it's a way for him to buy his way out of his own guilt, perhaps." He added: "[I]t's hypocrisy, plain and simple."

In a February 27 article, The Tennessean reported that a Gore spokesperson said the former vice president has limited his carbon footprint in the following ways:

Gore purchased 108 blocks of "green power" for each of the past three months, according to a summary of the bills.

[...]

The Green Power Switch program isn't all that Gore and his wife, Tipper, are doing, [Gore spokeswoman Kalee] Krider said.

They use compact fluorescent light bulbs and are in the midst of a renovation project that includes having solar panels installed on their home to reduce fossil fuel consumption, she said.

Their car? A Lexis hybrid SUV.

"They, of course, also do the carbon emissions offset," she said.

That means figuring out how much carbon is emitted from home power use, and vehicle and plane travel, then paying for projects that will offset that with use of renewable energy, such as solar power.

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she said.

According to its website, "Environmental Finance is a monthly magazine covering the ever-increasing impact of environmental issues on the lending, insurance, investment and trading decisions affecting industry."

From the April 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America:

HANNITY: Big environmental lie No. 2: It's OK if Learjet liberals fly around in private jets, because they buy carbon offsets.

Now, for every bad deed, like driving in a car or flying in an airplane, companies are now selling these carbon offsets to minimize the impact of our so-called carbon footprints on the environment.

Now you can learn all about this on the website for Al Gore's movie, on which you can calculate just how bad you are for the environment. The problem is, is that there is no standard for these companies to follow. As the left-wing magazine The Nation has reported, just about anything qualifies as an offset.

In the case of TerraPass, a carbon offset supplier to the rich, famous, and jet-set crowds, Business Week has that they are paying an Arkansas company, called Waste Management, for environmental practices that were already in place before TerraPass came along.

Just this week, an investigation by the Financial Times revealed that some carbon offset companies are guilty of selling worthless credits, providing credits of almost no value, and paying industrial companies for energy efficiency gains for which they have already benefited.

In short, carbon credits are a sham -- and, keep in mind, the people who buy these offsets are the same people who refuse to allow wind farms off Cape Cod because they aren't pretty.

Environmentalism is great, but just not in their backyard.

From the March 25 edition of Hannity's America:

HANNITY: So, all right, we've got the private jet use; we've got 20 times the use of electricity than the average American uses in just one of his three homes; we've got the zinc mine. And then I want to go to -- his answer every time -- and I applaud Senator Inhofe for asking him about this -- he always says, "Well, no, my family buys carbon offsets." But in fact, as you point out here, he helped found this group Generation Investment Management. So, he's not really buying carbon offsets from anything other than his own company -- in other words, sort of investing in his own company, isn't he?

JOHNSON: Exactly. And as I understand it, the offsets that he purchases are actually benefits from this company. So, he is not purchasing any offsets through his own pocket.

HANNITY: All right, explain what this is for the average American that has no idea, you know, if polluting the planet -- if we had a planetary emergency like this, you would think he would just lower his pollution rate.

JOHNSON: Right.

HANNITY: Explain this ridiculous concept that liberals are trying to throw on us about carbon offsets that they can buy sort of like indulgences.

JOHNSON: With carbon offsets, you are essentially saying you are allowing rich liberals to go buy -- to pay for a little kid somewhere in a third world country to plant a tree on your behalf to help clean up the environment. You're essentially saying, "I don't care enough about the environment to take steps in my own life, so I'm going to spend my money to encourage some little kid somewhere in a third would country and ask him to do something."

HANNITY: "I won't stop polluting the planet, I'll just, you know, plant a tree and then my conscience is free."

JOHNSON: Right. It's a way to buy off your guilt.

From the March 19 edition of Hannity & Colmes:

HORNER: If you follow Gore's record, it's -- you know about this story. It's been out there everywhere but the establishment press for about 15 years. Why did The Tennessean, clearly an establishment outlet, choose to publish it now? Because his hypocrisy is redefining hypocrisy. It's not anything about the mine; it's the hypocrisy, stupid. And don't say, "you guys" --

HANNITY: Well, Betsy, let me --

HANNITY: Hang on a second. Betsy, let me stay on this point. Let me stay on this point. If you go to look at his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, they have signs up there recommending, you know, when possible, use mass transit. Use light rail. If you can, walk or ride your bicycle.

ROSENBERG: Do you do that? Do you do that?

HANNITY: Hang on a second. Now we discover Mr. --

HORNER: He's not the Arch Druid.

HANNITY: -- Mr., you know, he advises us to walk. He travels around the world in private jets himself.

ROSENBERG: And he's doing carbon offsets 100 percent -- carbon offsets.

HANNITY: Carbon offsets is a crock, and you know it. He uses 22 times the amount --

ROSENBERG: It's a start. It's a start.

[...]

ROSENBERG: It doesn't matter. It's all a smokescreen.

HANNITY: Oh, it doesn't matter.

ROSENBERG: You're avoiding the truth. What about the --

HORNER: It doesn't matter.

ROSENBERG: -- truth about climate change scares you so much?

HORNER: It doesn't matter.

ROSENBERG: No --

HANNITY: It doesn't matter.

ROSENBERG: -- because it's the past, and we need to look forward --

HANNITY: If you're Al Gore and a liberal, you can be a hypocrite.

ROSENBERG: -- and we all need to look at our own ecological footprints --

HORNER: He's not an average American, remember?

ROSENBERG: -- including Al Gore, including Al Gore.

HANNITY: Yeah, OK. But, it -- so should he give up flying in private jets?

HORNER: He's not an average American. Betsy just said so.

HANNITY: Should he give up -- I mean, should he --

ROSENBERG: Have we all --

HANNITY: -- cut back on his electrical uses?

ROSENBERG: Who among has not looked at their own eco-footprint? He should. Absolutely. And in the meantime, he's doing carbon offsets. We all should. We all need to.

HANNITY: In the meantime, he's a hypocrite, Chris Horner.

From the February 27 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:

GIBSON: In the meantime, it's the big outrage: Why don't you practice what you preach? That's my big question to Al Gore. The former presidential candidate and environmentalist keeps pushing and pushing for everybody to jump on his green bandwagon, but in his global warming crusade, he doesn't actually play by his own rules.

GORE [video clip]: It is not as hard as you might think. We have a long way to go, but all of us can do something in our own lives to make a difference.

GIBSON: Well, what is Al Gore doing personally to make a difference? Well, it turns out he talks a lot. Gore's Tennessee mansion has now been reported to use more electricity every month than the average American household does in an entire year.

Al Gore's got plenty of cash, but instead of cutting back on his energy, he's using his greenbacks to buy energy credits. He can afford to be green if green means spending green. Is Al Gore an environmental fraud?

With me now: Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the group that put together this new report on Gore's energy consumption.

So, Drew, what is it that Gore's massive house down there in Nashville actually uses?

JOHNSON: Well, the average American uses about 11,000 kilowatt hours per year. Gore's mansion here in Nashville, which is one of three or four homes he has, used 221,000 kilowatt hours last year. So, we're talking 20 times what you and I use at home.

GIBSON: He, of course, says that he's doing everything he can to bring down the energy used in that house, to be totally green about it, and he buys energy credits. But what does all that mean?

JOHNSON: Well, when it comes down to it, when you're using 20 times more electricity than the average American, it's hard to justify your role, first of all, as a leader in this environmental movement.

But second of all, that you're acting -- you know, you're walking the walk. Obviously, he's big on talking the talk, and he's just not getting it done at his own home. As far as the vouchers and the carbon credits and things like that, it seems like it's a way for him to buy his way out of his own guilt, perhaps.

Here, we've got a man who flies around the world on private jets and then has $30,000 a year electric bills, and he is telling you and I what kind of light bulb to have in our bathrooms. It's -- it's, you know -- it's hypocrisy, plain and simple.

GIBSON: Well, I guess you're going to answer my question for me, Drew. Let me put it on the screen. Al Gore, Energy Guzzler: Mr. Green is trying -- he says he is -- or OMG [Oh my God]! What a hypocrite! You think he's a hypocrite here.

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