This week, the Ontario Liberals jumped onto Richard Branson’s latest campaign to save mankind and the planet.
Called Flick Off, the campaign is yet another attempt to convince people that electricity is bad for the environment. This notion is dubious, but common sense vanishes in the presence of celebrity. Hoping some of the cool shine would rub off on them, the McGuinty Liberals elbowed their way into the Green Living Show to announce their new partnership with Branson.
It has been clear for some time that McGuinty & co. have run out of ideas about how to peddle their environmental record to bored Ontario voters. And their enthusiasm for Flick Off suggests they’re more than a little star struck by Sir Richard—hey, it happens to teenagers all the time. But are they really going to hang their environmental “repositioning” on a pseudo-edgy ad campaign commissioned by a zillionaire celebrity? Why don’t they just point to the massive emission reductions that have occurred under their watch (see article)?
Flick Off is an obvious attempt to divert attention from the exhaust emissions that spew out of the jet engines of Virgin Airlines planes during every flight. Branson, desperate to remain both super-rich and super-cool, wants to avoid the same bad publicity that plagues the predominantly coal-fired British power generation sector.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) from aviation, already significant, are projected to rise dramatically, and the European Union wants to include them in the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). This would add costs to airlines, forcing more consolidation in the industry. So Flick Off is Branson’s way of pre-empting the bad publicicity, by handing responsibility for lowering GHGs to ordinary electricity consumers.
If Branson is really worried about GHGs, maybe he should curtail his own jet-setting and get out of the airline business. Or at least look at an electricity system before exhorting people to use it less. As I have pointed out in this blog, the environmental effects of electricity consumption have everything to do with where you get your electricity from. Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten apparently still doesn’t understand that most electricity in this province comes from non-emitting sources. Ever eager to please the radical greens who have taken over her ministry, she lunged at Branson’s cheap lure and swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
That’s just one of the howlers that occurred at the Green Living Show this week. Others included the David Suzuki and Al Gore tag-team berating federal Environment Minister John Baird with yet more righteous green blather (and Baird pretending to listen respectfully). I hope Simpsons and Family Guy writers attended the Toronto celebrity-fest; they would have gotten plenty of new material.