Majority of Canadians Skeptical of Corporate Claims of Carbon Neutrality



    "We're seeing more companies jumping on the carbon neutral marketing
    bandwagon but barely changing their practices."

    VANCOUVER, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Only one per cent of Canadians say they
strongly trust companies' claims that their products or practices are carbon
neutral, while 57 per cent of Canadians say they do not trust companies'
claims of carbon neutrality according to a new Pollara poll released next week
as part of Market Initiative's new report on market trends and environmental
integrity in the paper and publishing industries.
    "A proliferation of companies are using 'carbon neutral' schemes to buy
their way into consumers' hearts without taking steps to actually reduce
carbon, which is what the planet needs," says Nicole Rycroft executive
director of environmental group Markets Initiative. "The good news is that
these big claims with little action are not convincing Canadian consumers."
    She added part of the consumer distrust arises because companies often
pay for offsets but continue business as usual.
    Although there is a lot of conjecture about the term 'carbon neutral', it
was the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2006. It refers
to zero total carbon released by balancing the amount of carbon released with
the amount sequestered or offset. However, there is no standard body governing
carbon neutral claims, which makes credible accounting difficult.
    "The results show that while Canadians have a high level of awareness and
concern about carbon neutrality, companies have a long way to go to win
consumers' trust that they're really taking the actions that Canadians
expect," said Robert Hutton, PRC Executive Vice-President Pollara Strategic
Insights
    Companies like Air Canada and organizations like The Vatican have
launched high profile marketing initiatives about their offsetting programs in
tree planting with seemingly little other concrete action. The science is
doubtful about the efficacy of tree planting offsets, as the carbon loss that
results from logging carbon rich old growth forests such as Canada's Boreal
forest is not offset by planting seedlings, even over 50 decades.
    Likewise, Rolling Stone announced in 2007 that it was the first magazine
to use carbon neutral paper. This was in spite of the fact the paper itself
lacked any low carbon features like recycled content and consisted only of 100
per cent virgin fibre. In this case, the claim of 'carbon neutral' accounted
only for energy reduction measures at the mill and offsets purchased for the
energy used to produce the paper.
    More information on the poll will be released next week as part of Market
Initiative's new report. Markets Initiative commissioned Pollara, a national
opinion research firm, to conduct an online survey on focused on paper,
corporate behavior and the environment green marketing to 2,271 Canadians aged
18 and over. The survey was conducted from November 9th to November 13th 2007.
Results are considered accurate to +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20.





For further information:

For further information: Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director, Markets
Initiative, (778) 987-9099; Robert Hutton, PRC Executive Vice-President,
Pollara Strategic Insights, Office (416) 921-2233 x2236, Cell (416) 828-7301,
www.marketsinitiative.org

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MARKETS INITIATIVE

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