What does ‘green’ really mean?

Press photo for Carbon Rush
Press photo for Carbon Rush

In light of the impact of hurricane Sandy, global warming and the environment have once again become trending topics. Which is why Cinema Politica’s screening of Carbon Rush, a documentary by Amy Miller, seems incredibly apropos.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol put in place three market mechanisms in order to help industrialized countries reach their greenhouse gas emission targets. These mechanisms were all derived forms of the carbon credits system, in which major companies were allowed to resell their unused quota of permitted emissions to other, more polluting companies.

The documentary delves into the corrupted world of numerous projects that for years, have been feeding off the revenue created by the “carbon credits market” without necessarily improving their environmental standpoint.

The Vallourec & Mannesmann company in Brazil, for instance, has been receiving funding for it’s “Vallourec Project” since 2006, claiming that it’s using renewable energy from eucalyptus plants, which are used instead of traditional charcoal in the production of steel. If managed properly, a plantation of this exotic plant is considered sustainable, particularly because it can be endlessly replanted in the same spread of soil.

The reality of things is a lot more disheartening. The documentary shows the company moving entire villages out of the fertile fields where they’ve been living for decades in order to plant its eucalyptus. The eucalyptus plants are then harvested in order to be burned, rather than being left in nature to encourage environmental development the way the company has promised.

The plants that are burned are then processed in a fabric and shipped off as the final product to countries abroad. At no point in this process do the company’s endeavors become environmentally viable. The burning of the eucalyptus creates massive amounts of carbon and the company’s endeavors not only ruin local agricultural production and living conditions, but also contradict the idea of their supposed green initiative.

The documentary is filled with shockingly corrupt examples such as this one and sheds light on the state of environmental concern on the corporate level, without being overly alarmist.

Carbon Rush screens Nov 8 at 7 p.m. in Room H-110 at 1455 de Maisonneuve.


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