Why is Wal-Mart lobbying against carbon-offset guidelines?
Why is the mega-retailer so afraid of having offsets defined?
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Call me pollyannish, but I'm not ready to believe that Wal-Mart executives are as environmentally heartless as Wal-Mart Watch makes them out to be. In fact, I was so puzzled by what seems to me to be a fear of committment, that I did a very un-blogger like thing: I called them up. They said that they would get back to me on Friday, so stay tuned.Skip to next paragraph
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Update: Still haven't heard from Wal-Mart, although one of their PR people emailed me to say they haven't forgotten about me. I did, however, get a note from William Bert, a spokesman from Carbonfund, a leading nonprofit purveyor of carbon offsets. Here's what he had to say:
I think what Wal-mart was getting at in their comments was this: there are decades of accumulated scientific experience and hundreds of stakeholder organizations that have participated in developing the standards for the voluntary carbon offset industry, and since the FTC is not a scientific body it should resist attempting to resolve the competing opinions of dozens of scientists and expert organizations. That’s a job for the EPA, our government’s official environmental science agency. Carbonfund.org would support the EPA, with its scientific expertise, bringing stakeholders together to formalize standards.
Another update: True to their word, Wal-Mart got back to me with a statement. Here's what they have to say:
Wal-Mart supports a national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including the enactment of a well-designed cap-and-trade system. Wal-Mart believes that a well-designed cap-and-trade system will foster competition, innovation, and business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions.
We believe that the most important things for our company to do are: 1) reduce our own carbon footprint so we can be sure that our efforts have measurable, real results, 2) reduce the carbon impact of our supply chain, 3) help our customers’ reduce the carbon impacts of the use of the products we sell, and 4) provide support and constructive input into the public policy process.
We have a very aggressive goal to reduce our own footprint, including:
1. Make our truck fleet 25% more efficient by 2008; and 100% more efficient by 2015
2. Reduce GHG from 2005 and earlier existing stores, clubs and DC’s by 20% by 2012
3. Open a viable store prototype that is up to 25-30% more energy efficient by 2009
Additionally, Wal-Mart is in the early phases of developing a program to reduce the carbon associated with the manufacture, shipment, and use of the products we sell.
In order to have the best collaborative decision in the formal definition of what constitutes a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) or an offset, there are several governmental entities and highly technical experts with vast environmental expertise that could and should be included in these important regulations, to enable the flexibility of new innovation and technology that is occurring daily across the world.