Awards, honours and prizes for new energy and going green

You ought not to pay attention to titles and prizes. They are usually frivolous and serve the donors more than the recipients. What value is there in a Knighthood when one is owned by Fred Goodwin, who received it five years ago and promptly proceeded to run the world’s largest bank into bankruptcy? What honour is there in being made a peer when one newly made peer, Jeffrey Archer, went to prison for perjury? Prizes fall pretty much in the same category. They often add kudos, publicity and marketing opportunities for those who give the prizes.

The Rosenblatt New Energy Awards is a case in point. Rosenblatt are a firm of solicitors in London who sponsor prizes for “new energy” along with other sponsors seeking the marketing opportunity. The publicity for the event issued by Rosenblatt blathers on about a “spectacular event in the renewable energy sector, recognising the achievements of management teams, companies and projects that have made a significant contribution to this sector during the past 12 months”. Tellingly, they add “With more than 500 CEOs, MDs, FDs, advisers, venture capitalists and financiers attending, the awards are a ‘must-attend’ occasion and an invaluable networking opportunity.”

Rosenblatts asked the naturalist David Bellamy to host or speak at the event, but Mr Bellamy is a man of principle, however misconceived. It was a strange choice because Mr Bellamy, although a sincere environmentalist, does not think that climate change is man made and has widely published his views about it. If the New Energy Awards have any significance it does not make sense to invite someone who does not believe in anthropogenic climate change, because “new” energy is surely about energy that is made without creating that climate change gas, carbon dioxide which most scientists think being made by humans will rapidly change the climate for the worse.

As I have said Mr Bellamy is a man of principle and according to various reports he declined the event, notwithstanding the loss of a fee and the opportunity to publicise the law firm that have created the award.

It is interesting to look at some of the previous winners of some of the awards at this event. In 2008, for example “retailer of the year” was that well known company committed to packaging in the most environmentally destructive way possible – Marks & Spencer. The others up for awards this seemed a long way off my radar, insofar as new energy is concerned. Perhaps I live in a different world but why BT ( nearly wind farmers)should be up for an award of the project of the year, having just pulled out of a wind farm project because they could not double count the Renewable Energy Credits, baffles me, but I digress.

Mr Bellamy’s decision was reported by Martin Waller of the Times (known to my American readers as The London Times) who also reported “Zac Goldsmith will have another chance to deliver his speech about how easy it is going green when you inherit a multimillion-pound fortune”.

It is a cheap shot; it is harder to be “green” if you are wealthy, just as it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Mr Goldsmith (whom I have never met) can no doubt defend himself but he has spent time and money trying to counter genetically modified food, proposes harsh taxes on luxury cars and generally his environmental heart is very much in the right place.

He has always been green, as have most of his family. They have devoted a large portion of their wealth to saving the tropical dry forest in Western Mexico, while many of their neighbours developed the land with hotels or farmed it, so the jibe about “going green” is undeserved. I suspect that Mr Goldsmith was born green.

Mr Waller in his article chose to criticise Mr Goldsmith. I think he missed the real target; there are numerous claims to be doing something for the environment by many commercial organisations such as telecommunications companies, supermarkets and law firms. It is easy to claim to be going green and you can make money out of your claims or enjoy invaluable networking opportunities.

Ignore the awards and honours because the real heroes never get them – the people who install or buy solar, or driver small cars, or eschew flying, or buy organic food, or shop locally or grow trees or do any of the other thousands of things that will give us a chance of saving our planet.

5 Responses

  1. Robert, that was an excellent article and I wholeheartedly agree with what you have said. So if they [Rosenblatt] ever offer Genersys an ‘award’ I think you will tell them to ‘put it where the sun don’t shine’ !

    I think the best award to recieve is a good conscience,… if only I could manufacture conscience’s I think there are a lot of people who need them !

    Regards Peter

  2. Yes, good post..

    Receiving genuine recognition from one’s peers is undoubtedly gratifying but a ‘green’ award from a firm of solicitors…?!

  3. Yes, excellent post

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