My fellow Bryanston alumni, Andrew Warwick-Thompson has been flagging the boob made by Mark Carney over “avoided emissions”. This shows the perils of not knowing your offsets from your elbow and proves what a perilous business it is saying anything about the green credentials of your business.
I enjoyed indulging myself with a literary analogy. Back in the day, people believed in purgatory, a place believed to be on earth where inhabitants suffered a mild version of hell-fire. You could shorten your stay in purgatory by buying purgatorial offsets from pardoners who were like those re-selling carbon offsets today. These were know as indulgences.
Pardoners’ reputations were pretty low , and Chaucer’s pardoner still comes across as a 14th century Arthur Daley/ Delboy.
I apologize to Andrew who I now remember is a trustee of Cushon master trust. Cushon use carbon offsets to get them to carbon net zero and I didn’t mean to suggest that – like Mark Carney – he’d been had by the pardoners.
I’m not sure whether Andrew is humoring me in loving my analogy or whether he is having a laugh at himself. But I’m sure that Mark Carney won’t be the last to promote an offering on a dodgy basis.
If my memory of the Canterbury Tales is correct, the Pardoner gets into a hell of a row with the host because he devalued the articles of faith on which the pilgrimage to Canterbury were based. Fortunately, Chaucer provides some authorial distance to this dispute so we can enjoy the Pardoner for the rogue he is without having to approve his appalling antics.
Green washing also excites anger from those most passionate about sustaining the planet. From Greta Thunberg to David Farrar, the world is full of green passion and just as most of Chaucer’s contemporaries would have sympathised with the host , so I sympathise with Greta and David. But rather like Chaucer, I do have a soft spot for the pardoner and I am pleased that Andrew’s sense of self-effacing irony is undiminished.