Tuesday, January 03, 2006

BP - Beyond the Publicity

BP is spending a fortune on persuading British consumers of its green credentials. But how green is it?

BP, supposedly rebranded as Beyond Petroleum, has now trademarked the term 'alternativenergy'.

The term originates in the early seventies, from the time of the first oil shortage crisis, when the so-called 'alternative society' had grown out of the sixties counter-culture, and begun to concern itself with what the 'Aquarian Age' might be like.

Peter Harper tells me that apparently in the recent Oxford English Dictionary 'alternative technology' is credited to Teddy Goldsmith and The Ecologist, but of course they got it from the socialist ecological Undercurrents magazine, which first popularised the term in 'alternative' circles.

It was Peter Harper, writing in Undercurrents, who first coined the phrase, and from it came the phrase 'alternative energy', meaning 'renewable', and the Centre for Alternative Technology, founded 1974, where Peter still works as its principal theorist.

For BP to trademark it would have been considered an act of piracy in the '70s and '80s. Now, we all breathe a sigh of cynical despair and call it a sick joke.

For the reality is, that the tv ads televised in this country, full of pretty flowers, which BP ends with the statement that they are working to promote solutions to climate change, the same ads broadcast in the States finish with a statement about how great they are at exploring for new gas fields.

And BP is in bed with ExxonMobil in Alaska.

So why does Greenpeace just single out ExxonMobil as the chief climate change villain?

The fact is that the amount BP is spending on solar power is only five percent of what it spends on prospecting for new oil and gas supplies. This is not going to lead to a target of 15% or thereabouts of total energy supply coming from renewables by 1016, or anything near it (20% by 2020 is the latest UK aim).

Despite last November pledging to invest up to $8 billion in wind, solar, hydrogen and high efficiency gas-fired power generation projects over the next 10 years, "the vast majority of BP's around $15 billion annual investment budget will remain focused on oil and gas projects, which offer much higher returns". [- Reuters, 28 Nov. 2005 - reference here].

This is because the real words those letters BP stand for are - 'Better Profits'.

1 comment:

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