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Cool con tango

2007-02-07

Culture Corner

Jay Blanche explains how Global Cool aims to reduce carbon emissions via the medium of modern dance

It’s elementary. There is now too much carbon in the atmosphere. It’s just that average Joe or Jo either doesn’t know or doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.

The message is out there for people who read or watch the news.

Trouble is, scientists are rarely media-friendly in this age of false celebrity.

To today’s bling generation, carbon might mean diamonds, but little else.

Enter (stage left) Global Cool. Armed with little more than a funky website and an A-list contacts book, Global Cool aims to reduce global carbon emissions by one billion tonnes per year, or twice the current annual rate of global emissions growth. How?

Via the medium of modern dance, of course. More specifically, by recruiting major entertainers to make enough of a song and dance about it that we all start doing the simple things that could make a huge collective difference to the environment. Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you’re going to be bombarded with images of celebs shaking their stuff to save the world.

Rather, expect to see the big names in entertainment take part in high-profile events staged or supported by Global Cool Productions, as well as exclusive content from such artists online at http://www.global-cool.com. You may also be told by your daughter’s favourite pin-up to unplug your phone charger and switch to low-energy light bulbs.

Global Cool believes that professional communicators are best equipped to deliver essential messages to a vast, if not global, audience,” says the organisation’s founder Dan Morrell.

Morrell, who purportedly coined the term ‘carbon-neutral’, founded Future Forests in 1997. The company is now known as The CarbonNeutral Company and offers many practical ways to reduce and offset your environmental footprint.

However, Morrell felt that there was more important work to do than offsetting the emissions of the minority who were already aware of the problem – that of educating and empowering those less informed or less inclined to do anything about the dangers facing us all.

That’s not to say that Global Cool is just a talking shop for celebrities for celebrities to ‘out-green’ each other. Far from it. Amid the information and the pretty faces on the website is the option to buy a “Tonne of Cool”, which is actually a far more serious proposal that its name might suggest – and one that anyone with a less altruistic agenda towards the carbon-emissions market should know about.

“A Tonne of Cool,” Global Cool says, “is a clever cocktail of environmental goodness which changes the things that individuals can’t change themselves.” Half of the funds raised will be used by the Global Cool Foundation to buy and decommission carbon-emission credits from regulated and Kyoto-compliant markets (such as Kyoto CERs and EU ERUs). A further 20% will be invested in alternative energy technology companies to speed up the uptake of solar, wave, wind and biomass-generated power. The investments will focus on what it calls the ‘Valley of Death’ between R&D and market-readiness. Fifteen percent goes back to Global Cool Productions, facilitating more carbon-neutral shows and programmes “to create a bigger noise to turn people into planet-savers.”

Ten percent will go to fund projects, campaigns and initiatives that will influence governments and businesses to do more about climate change. The remaining 5% will cover administration costs.

In charge of handling the cash is Julian Knight, formerly chief financial officer at Man Group, now Global Cool Productions’ chief executive officer. Julian was influential in building Man’s carbon-trading business as well as positioning Man as a key adviser to the EU Parliament and its members on emissions trading. The career change is not as dramatic as it sounds – Man Group has taken more and bigger steps towards carbon-neutralisation than many, or perhaps any, of its peers.

It has invested heavily in forests, has offset all its own emissions, and has even offered grants to staff to lessen the environmental impact their own homes. Man Group is also one of a range of blue-chip financial institutions who have committed a target of £120m in support of the Global Cool campaign.

Julian does not have total control of the purse strings, however. Fanny Calder is head of policy and strategy for the Global Cool Foundation. She has been working against climate change since 1989 with organisations ranging from Greenpeace to the United Nations and is an expert in bringing together coalitions of governments, businesses and NGOs to develop powerful solutions to global challenges. Her duty at Global Cool is to ensure that the foundation has the biggest impact possible on tackling climate change.

Now, Fanny knows her stuff when it comes to the science causing climate change, but just to be sure, the foundation has recruited another expert in Dr Tariq Ali, research director of the Energy and Environment Office at Imperial College, London.

He also happens to be a member of the UK Energy Minister’s Renewable Advisory Board and has participated in meetings and briefings at 10 Downing Street and the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology.

However, public exposure underpins the whole project, and as such, Global Cool has a heavyweight head of media in Richard Kilgarrif, an award-winning executive with fifteen years’ experience spanning all conceivable media.

He was formerly senior vice-president of Turner Broadcasting in the UK and Germany. He has already signed up NME (New Musical Express – the UK’s leading music magazine) and MySpace as media partners

The movement was officially launched at events in London and Los Angeles on 30 January.

The London launch featured Hollywood heart-throb Josh Hartnett (he of Pearl Harbor, and of Sin City) and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter KT Tunstall, who led the charge for the hearts and minds of the general public, before picking up Stephen Fry, Alan Yentob and the rhythm section from Queen and descending on Downing Street to get the government on board.

Of course, Tony Blair just loved the idea. “I think this is just a wonderful initiative that I hope will inspire people the world over,” the British Prime Minister enthused. “Individuals can help by doing something themselves, but also by being part of a movement like Global Cool, which will mobilise people in the same way as Make Poverty History.”

Now one final thought for the day: “No one makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” Edmund Burke, 1783

© Incisive Media Ltd. 2007
Incisive Media Limited, Haymarket House, 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4RX, is a company registered in the United Kingdom with company registration number 04038503