Last March, we received word that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was offsetting his jet travel demands by purchasing green credits. The cost of Schwarzenegger’s travel was to be “annually invested” in sustainable forest management projects. At that time, it was reported that the Governor was flying twice-weekly from his office in Sacramento, CA to his mansion in Brentwood, CA. We firmly believed then that the offsetting was, at best, a band-aid for a habit that in one hour would do more damage to the environment than a small car could inflict over the course of one year.
Now, the LA Times is reporting that Schwarzenegger’s habit has increased to commuting nearly every day by private jet — a move that regardless of offsetting, is widely considered as damaging to a “champion of environmental issues” and cover-boy for various green magazine issues. From the article,
Administration officials say Schwarzenegger is well aware of this and makes amends by purchasing pollution credits for the carbon dioxide his jet releases. The credits fund efforts worldwide to reduce greenhouse gases, such as projects that harness energy from wind, landfill gas and farm waste, although they don’t eliminate the pollution from Schwarzenegger’s plane. Flying the Gulfstream and other jets the governor uses costs as much as $10,000 an hour. Some conservationists say Schwarzenegger is essentially attempting to buy a clean conscience with the carbon offsets, which cost about $43 an hour.
In defense, Schwarzenegger says his family needs him and such daily trips warrant the commute. While I can understand the personal importance of such an action, as a representative of the people — and a role-model for sustainable initiatives — Arnold should suck it up and simply crash in Sacramento for a bit. Commuting daily in a private jet erodes the pedestal of anyone championing green living and warning against the dangers of climate change. Offsetting is simply not enough. As we’ve said before, you have to “be the change” in this shift to make an impression.