Will Obama see the forest for the trees?

January 20, 2009

A Chinese campaigner has urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to prove his green credentials, asking him to offset the emissions generated by his inauguration by funding a forest in China.

A carbon fund named “Obama, future” could invest in increased forest coverage in another country and Obama himself could plant a tree there, Lin Hui said in an open letter, published on www.ditan360.com. Lin hopes that country will be China.

Lin’s appeal is based on estimates by conservative U.S. think-tank, the Institute for Liberty, that people travelling to attend Tuesday’s inauguration would generate 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“Obama’s presidency is a big opportunity. The whole world is pinning their hopes on him, even the greens, believing he’ll be different than Bush,” Lin told Reuters.

The website, run by a team of volunteers, contains news articles and information designed to educate Chinese about a low-carbon lifestyle.

The Chinese government, which has been active in encouraging Western firms to invest in carbon-offset projects in China, approved the website in April, Lin said.

Lin’s posting in Chinese is illustrated with photos of Obama’s “whistle-stop tour”, his itinerary for Tuesday, and pictures from the inauguration of predecessor George W. Bush. He tried sending a copy of the open letter, which is in English, through Obama’s public email address, “but I doubt he’ll receive it.”

Lin signed his congratulatory letter as “A Chinese citizen, also your friend in green career”.


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Bloody cheek of them.If they are that concerned about the enviroment they should stop their citizens involvement of rhino poaching in South Africa.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Too right Mark, China is poised to become the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and is already the largest polluter. Getting a lecture from someone who’s country had to go to such extremes to clean up the air in Beijing (sort of) is a little galling. Next it will be child labor or international weapon sales that someone from China is griping about. What a laugh.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Why should the U.S. plant trees in China? Let the Chinese plant their own trees with their unemployed workers. China has a desert in their country and it is a good idea to plant trees to cool the air over desert areas and create more oxygen since trees take in carbon dioxide and in turn expel oxygen.In another posting that I did several months ago, I stated that the United States should consider planting trees in western Africa to cool the air in the ocean area west of Africa so that the ocean water won’t be as warm. The warm ocean water help produce hurricanes that move across the Atlantic Ocean and many eventual hits Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and/or Texas. So helping Africa plant forests in their desert and other arid areas using cheap labor will help the United States over time.The trees could be mango trees so that the Africans will have productive trees. Other fruit bearing trees could also be planted to produce a good food source for export which will help build up the economy in the areas where forests are being established.So instead of helping China plant trees, we should be planting trees in western Africa.

Posted by realmerv | Report as abusive

How insulting and outrageous – What business does this joker in China have of making such demands on Mr. Obama? How incredibly rude to insult Mr. Obama’s integrity. This is an INSULT TO ALL AMERICANS.The Chinese are always telling people in other countries to mind their own business — unless there’s a handout in it for the Chinese. Instead of being INSULTING and DEMANDING handouts from the rest of the world, China needs to stop it’s factories and power plants destroying the atmosphere around our planet and recklessly shortening the lives of people worldwide.

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive

Let China fund it’s own forest, OR settle up with the USA first, to the tune of BILLIONS as punitive damages for the poisoned foods they exported to the USA…China has more than enough to support its own green movements.I will support the USA funding a forest in China when China funds a school of ethical and moral government training in the USA.

Posted by cthings | Report as abusive

The US is losing its own forests all over the west due to a combination of mismanagement, global warming, drought, and insects. If my tax dollars go toward planting forests, they better be planted in the good ol’ USA.

Posted by Lynn | Report as abusive

Lin Hui should not make such a childish comment, instead he should tell his government to plan a tree forest in every country while more emmission made without any major political activities in China already and they were not really doing anything about it until the olympic ( even they tried, but it is still worse than ever).I agree that the whole world should concern our environment, however, using this kind of sarcastic comments by seeking any chances to turn ugly of the other nation is low class and common way, at least base on my knowledge, that China usually do.If China can stop aiding other countries for wars with weapons, smuggling other country’s technology and plant a tree forest in every country first, then I would support what Lin Hui is trying to preach. Practice what you preach brother before whining, and do not talk about other people shortcomings while you have more to improve.

Posted by practicewhatyoupreach | Report as abusive

Perhaps the effort could be symbolic and serve as proof that Obama wants conservation to be a part of global efforts.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

In honor of our new president, Lin, the Chinese should plant a tree themselves. I like that thought ‘realmerv’ about planting trees in west Africa. Would that really work out and what would be your source besides you saying that it makes sense.

Posted by taehoon | Report as abusive

Lynn, the climate is changing, an increase in insects is occuring and the western forests are going up in smoke because they are becoming overgrown and thus increasing the fuel for forest fires.

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

Though I concur with previous writers, inasmuch as it’s quite ludicrous to read such a comment on the part of a Chinese citizen, may I remind everyone that the US has so far refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, or any of the following, and also that, even though Mr Obama has promised a lot in terms of environment, most people still have doubts that he can turn around the powerful “polluting lobbies”… Besides, no one has addressed the real point in Lin Hui’s address : is it really a good symbol to generate 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide for a mere inauguration… Sacrifices will need to be made !

Posted by Guillaume Cingal | Report as abusive

It is interesting that the media attacked the three car maker CEO’s for their use of pruvate jets, but not a word about the number of private jets liberal well-wishers used to get to DC for to see Obama.There were so many private jets that the DC airport had to close a runway just to park them!I am sure many of them were owned by the Hollywood elite; who will get back on their private jet and fly home and begin anew to tell THE REST OF US how our energy use is destroying the planet!

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

Excellent point Heather. Why is this happening?

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

[…] Environment » Blog Archive » Will Obama see the forest for the trees? | Blogs | . […]

Posted by Environment » Blog Archive » Will Obama see the forest for the trees? | Blogs | « Marginal Damage | Report as abusive

A huge challenge, to be sure.For anyone out there who is personally interested in calculating their own carbon footprint or starting their own Carbon Offset website (raise awareness and make commission!), look at www.carbonadvicegroup.com- a great way to address your communities carbon footprint as a social entrepreneur.

Posted by Murray | Report as abusive

I do not expect the US to fund a forest reserve in China. The US has a vast area of land that is quite suitable to establish a forest. Therefore, funding the project in China will only deprive the US workforce of jobs that they could have accessed at home. Secondly, China’s joint ventures or strategic alliances are sometimes frought with complicated legal hurdles, which are not always clearly visible or foreseable.

Posted by Ajan Fofanah | Report as abusive

I AM writing to subscribe to the excellent contribution of Mr.Ajan Fofanah, about the legal hurdles of doing business with China. I would like to add that China’s family oriented business model is sometimes difficult to understand and interprete. They are more relationship oriented than legally minded. This is not a bad model, but as Mr. Ajan Fofanah promounced, one should ready to face the legal dilemas of doing business there.

Posted by Denis streeter | Report as abusive

It think it’s been generally accepted that planting trees as carbon offsets is naïve sadly. A nice idea, but a little behind the times. http://www.agreenerfestival.com/pdfs/WWF -GP-FoE_on_offseting.pdf Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund have all discounted it as a way off offsetting.However, I really think that carbon offsetting can make a difference. I only offset using high quality CER-based carbon offsets from companies such as http://www.clear-offset.com/ essentially allow private individuals to invest in green technologies that wouldn’t necessarily make commercial sense otherwise.If the powers that can’t build a biomass plant or hydro dam as it’s too expensive, then have a guess what they’re going to build instead – yup, yet more coal / oil / gas fired power stations. The other thing is that most CO2 calculations are based on the fact that a tree will offset some carbon over the next 100 years. Carbon Credit savings must have already happened to be sold.Carbon Offsetting is not a bad thing, in fact it can be very positive – it’s just been done in the past by the wrong methods (planting trees and treadle pumps), by the wrong people (those looking to make a quick buck). Open your eyes and take another look….

Posted by Jamie | Report as abusive