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On the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a discussion of the recent Live Earth concert series -- a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series to raise awareness for issues related to global warming -- co-host Sean Hannity criticized the concept of purchasing carbon credits to offset one's "carbon footprint" as a "joke" and a "fraud." Guest Chris Horner, senior fellow for the energy industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), joined Hannity in bashing carbon offsets, likening the system to a priest who buys "adultery offsets." This is only the latest example of Hannity attacking carbon offsets and, in particular, former Vice President Al Gore's reported use of them. However, Hannity has yet to address News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch's pledge to take steps -- including the use of carbon offsets -- "to be carbon neutral, across all our businesses" -- which includes Fox News -- "by 2010."
On May 9, News Corp. announced that all of its "business units will become carbon neutral by 2010 -- through energy efficiency, buying renewable power and offsetting otherwise unavoidable emissions. Becoming carbon neutral is only the beginning of the company's permanent commitment to change the way it uses energy and to reach its audiences on this issue." Furthermore, in a May 9 speech, Murdoch went into greater detail regarding News Corp.'s plan to use carbon credits to offset "unavoidable" emissions:
MURDOCH: While we reduce our own carbon footprint we will encourage the companies who truck our DVDs and newspapers, sell us paper, and provide an enormous range of products and services -- to all contribute.
Today, we are joining the Climate Group, a coalition of businesses and governments working together to solve the climate problem.
But some emissions will be unavoidable. As a last resort, we will offset these emissions.
A carbon offset is a financial tool to support projects that prevent carbon from being released into the atmosphere. Done right, they will widen the implementation of carbon-saving technologies, and give an incentive to create new solutions.
We have entered into an agreement to begin purchasing carbon offsets this year, from projects that provide wind power in India.
When our net emissions reach zero -- through a combination of operational changes and carbon offsets -- we will be carbon neutral.
But as Media Matters for America recently noted, Hannity has yet to address these claims.
During the July 9 segment, Global Warming Action Alliance president John Cleveland noted that the Live Earth organizers "paid for carbon offset credits," to which Hannity responded, "What a joke." He later told Horner: "Let's talk about the carbon offset fraud." Horner replied:" OK, real quickly. Sean, you have a priest. If your priest tells you ... that adultery is a mortal sin and then holds a big orgy at his house and tells everybody about it, but then says, 'You still need to take me seriously about adultery, because I bought adultery offsets.' Would you keep going back to that church?" He added: "That's what the high church of environmentalism is about. ... It's like the infidelity never occurred."
Hannity has previously derided carbon offsets as a "sham," a "crock," and a "ridiculous concept" and has repeatedly criticized Gore's reported use of them:
- Discussing "lies" about global warming on the April 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, Hannity claimed that "carbon credits are a sham" and asserted: "Big environmental lie No. 2: It's OK if Learjet liberals fly around in private jets, because they buy carbon offsets."
- During the April 5 Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted: "If pollution is so bad, if carbon emissions are so bad, polluting the planet is so bad, then instead of buying these indulgences -- carbon offsets -- why wouldn't people like Gore give up the jets and stop spending 20 times the amount of electricity? In response, co-host Alan Colmes asserted: "You actually are purchasing something to offset what the pollution you're putting into the environment. ... Hey, you can laugh it all you want. ... [Y]ou want to make it about Al Gore." Hannity responded: "I think this is the most asinine, ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
- During the March 25 edition of Hannity's America, while discussing Gore's March 21 testimony on global warming before the House and Senate environment committees, Hannity asked Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, to "[e]xplain this ridiculous concept that liberals are trying to throw on us about carbon offsets that they can buy sort of like indulgences."
Johnson replied: "With carbon offsets, you are essentially saying you are allowing rich liberals ... to pay for a little kid somewhere in a third world country to plant a tree on your behalf to help clean up the environment. You are essentially saying, 'I don't care enough about the environment to take steps in my own life, so I'm going to spend my money to encourage some little kid somewhere in a third world country and ask him to do something." Hannity added: "I won't stop polluting the planet, I'll just, you know, plant a tree and then my conscience is free."
- On the March 19 Hannity & Colmes, after Air America's EcoTalk host Betsy Rosenberg noted that Gore was reportedly using carbon offsets, Hannity stated: "Carbon offsets is a crock, and you know it." He later claimed: "If you're Al Gore and a liberal, you can be a hypocrite."
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: John Cleveland, let me ask you this question. You know, Al Gore travels around in private jets. He uses 20 times --
HANNITY: Excuse me --
CLEVELAND: You are wrong.
HANNITY: Sir, I've chronicled it. He travels around in private jets. We've gone through a whole experience, and I'll give you the dates and times that we now have chronicled he's been on private jets. So that's a fact.
CLEVELAND: And how much of that has he done on commercial airlines?
HANNITY: Can I finish? He uses 20 times the amount of electricity than the average citizen of Tennessee. For this concert, how many of these guys traveled how many miles around the world and put a big carbon imprint? Is that a problem for you?
CLEVELAND: The thing that you're not telling people is that the organizers of this organization paid for carbon offset credits. Al Gore's home is --
HANNITY: What a joke.
CLEVELAND: -- 100 percent green, 100 percent green.
HANNITY: Chris Horner, this is a carbon offset company that he owns and he makes profit on. Let's talk about the carbon offset fraud.
HORNER: OK, real quickly. Sean, you have a priest. If your priest tells you every Sunday, as he probably does, that adultery is a mortal sin and then holds a big orgy at his house and tells everybody about it, but then says, "You still need to take me seriously about adultery, because I bought adultery offsets." Would you keep going back to that church? That's what the high church of environmentalism is about. Remember, they just said, as long as -- obviously, the wealthy, you buy offsets. It's 100 percent green. It's like the infidelity never occurred.