I attended the launch of Journeys for Climate Justice last night. This project aims to create alternative ways for people to offset their emissions through building partnerships with community organisations in the Asia Pacific. Although you probably already know my feelings about carbon offsets the project that they are supporting is great. The Kelani Nadee Yatra project aims to develop youth leaders in climate change and sustainability through their participation in a journey down Sri Lanka’s sacred river. Eco-V will then support the youth ambassadors for a year in implementing climate change projects in their own communities. A fantastic way to increase awareness of climate change and also build resilience to the challenges posed by a problem which will hit the country hard but is largely not of their making. This is exactly the sort of project I was hoping to connect with during our own journey, but sadly I think Sri Lanka might just be a little hard to get to. The boat service to India has been suspended for years and it’s not exactly on the way to Scotland either.
I was going to ask if they had considered using a word other than offset to describe what they were doing. To me offsetting suggests counterbalancing, counteracting some sort of clearing of the ledger. But that’s not what’s happening. As soon as that plane takes off the CO2 is released and there’s no taking it back, it will be in the atmosphere for perhaps thousands of years. It would be great if such an innovative project could also begin to spread awareness that there are no free rides, there is no simple way of undoing emissions. But I realise that it is a very big ask of a small newly started not for profit to challenge the accepted social and economic wisdom of our age. So I will be supporting their projects not because they will counterbalance my emissions but because it is a great idea to support climate change awareness and adaptation initiatives in countries which will be severely impacted.