Keuringsdienst van Waarde is a Dutch TV consumer programme. In a recent two episode series, they looked into offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions caused by viewers of their programme for one year. Their plan was to offset the emissions by buying up a plot of Brazilian rainforest. The results are fascinating, in turns shocking and funny.
The programme is largely in Dutch. What follows is a rough translation based on google translate. If any Dutch speakers can improve on the translation I’ll be happy to update this post.
The programme starts in the Netherlands, with some questions about “carbon neutral” claims and estimating the greenhouse gas emissions of Keuringsdienst’s viewers. From 10 mins 30 secs in, the KVW team is in Brazil, speaking mainly English and looking into buying a plot of rainforest from a company called . While the rainforest is cheap, the lives of the Amazon’s Indigenous Peoples appear to be even cheaper, at least according to , managing director of .
I’ll post episode 2 next week.
UPDATE – 6 May 2011: Episode 2 is here: Dutch TV programme on CO2 offsets (part 2): “I can fly to America with a clear conscience, because someone in Africa has a biogas plant for cooking.”
UPDATE – 20 May 2014: contacted REDD-Monitor yesterday requesting that his name is removed from this website. I have done so – the point of posting this transcript was to highlight the issues raised in the programme about carbon offsetting and to encourage discussion about them.
Keuringsdienst van Waarde
Broadcast 31 March 2011
Marion: Good afternoon, Marion.
Presenter: I’d like to ask something. I have bought Vanish Oxi Action Hygiene. It states: CO2 neutral.
Presenter: I was wondering what that is.
Marion: CO2 neutral?
Marion: (laughing) You’re asking me something.
Presenter: Yeah, huh? I think it’s a little … What is that?
Man’s voice on phone: That has everything to do with the environment. That no CO2 emissions, allowing the plant longevity. And uh … oxygen eh … is cleaner for humans and animals.
Voice over: It is in the air, is in the newspapers every day and is often on the news. CO2 is too much. So much that it warms the earth and the sea will overflow. But there is hope. We can offset our emissions. That’s called CO2 neutral, or CO2 offset. From Airline ticket to a full tank of petrol and from detergent to wine … all while maintaining clean air for humans and animals. The Keuringsdienst van Waarde with two episodes of CO2.
[In the woods...]
Presenter: Professor Reinders?
Lucas Reijnders: Good day.
Presenter: Good day. Teun van de Keuken. [?]
Lucas Reijnders: Hello.
Presenter: Shall we go into the woods?
Lucas Reijnders: OK.
Presenter: I came a little climate neutral.
Lucas Reijnders: Nice bike. We must so.
Presenter: So? You know the forest at your fingertips.
[Back on the phone...]
Presenter: CO2 emissions. What is that, actually?
Man’s voice on phone: Eh … is that a rhetorical question … eh?
Man’s voice on phone: CO2 is carbon … um … out of my head: monoxide.
Woman’s voice on phone: CO2 means air and water or something, says my colleague.
Woman’s voice on phone: And it is neutral when it has no harmful substances in it.
[Back in the woods...]
Presenter: What is CO2, actually?
[Text on screen: "Environment Expert Lucas Reijnders"]
Lucas Reijnders: CO2 is a gas. It’s here around us. You can look through it.
Lucas Reijnders: Everywhere. Here, there. It is an integral part of the atmosphere. In a small amount it is in the air.
Presenter: And that is bad?
Lucas Reijnders: No. It is not bad. It is naturally present. Initially, after the creation of the earth there was much more than now. It has decreased enormously. We attribute that mainly to forests. They store CO2. They make it into bark and green stuff, moss. It is removed from the atmosphere and stored.
Presenter: I cannot open a newspaper or even an advertising brochure without CO2 being demonized.
Lucas Reijnders: If you have sunlight on the earth it will be changed into heat. This heat is as it were stopped by the CO2. That keeps it, as it were. If you increase the amount of CO2, the heat remains better. Then the climate warms. That’s what we’re talking about. So the CO2 retains heat on the earth. And thus we get global warming.
Voice over: A warmed earth is not good. A warm house, however, we would like. There comes the CO2 in the air and means that the earth is not happy again. Unless you compensate.
[Walking into Green Choice's office...]
Energy company Green Choice has forest-offset gas. Gas with which you save forest in Brazil. For mature trees catch much wind … oh no, it was CO2, sorry.
Jurjen Algra (Green Choice): Jurjen Algra.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Maurice Dekkers.
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): Michiel Rexwinkel.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Maurice Dekkers, Keuringsdienst van Waarde.
[Text on screen: Energy Supplier Michiel Rexwinkel, Energy Supplier Jurjen Algra]
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): Welcome to Green Choice. Come in.
A tree takes CO2 from the air. On the other hand you burn gas to heat your home.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): I have a pipe that emits CO2. Or not?
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): You have gas, hydrocarbons to burn. And that burning releases CO2 into the air from your chimney. The only thing you can do is you have the same amount of CO2 stored elsewhere in the world as emitted. Forests absorb CO2. They convert it into carbon, wood. At that point you have compensated.
Voice over: It is that simple: For your emissions, you buy a forest and you’re fine. Keuringsdienst also wants to do that. Not for ourselves, but for you, the viewers. So you can watch with complete peace of mind.
[Another office building...]
Marijn Frank (KVW): Hello. Marijn Frank, Keuringsdienst van Waarde.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Alexander Gijsen from DNV.
[Text on screen: CO2 Engineer: Alexander Gijsen]
Marijn Frank (KVW): You’re good with numbers?
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Yes, I count a lot numbers on one day. Many on CO2 emissions.
Marijn Frank (KVW): OK, then I am at the right place.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Yes.
Marijn Frank (KVW): What we want to do, is to offset the CO2 emissions of the viewers of our programme, Keuringsdienst. So I hope you can do some sort of sum, so we know how much CO2 viewers emit in total. And therefore how much CO2 we must compensate for the viewers.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): OK, maybe I can write here.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Oh, that’s handy. The simpler the better. I’m not so good at maths.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): That’s what I’m here for.
Marijn Frank (KVW): OK.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): (writing on a flipchart) Heating. The room is of course also lit. The TV also uses electricity. Cable modem. A cup of coffee. Or of course a cup of tea.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Consumer behaviour.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Exactly.
Marijn Frank (KVW): OK.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): And we often take a biscuit.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Delicious, or a piece of chocolate.
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): A piece of chocolate, yes. Of course you have a fairly leftist group of viewers. Many will not have a biscuit, but a piece of fruit.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Do left wingers eat more fruit? Is that well known?
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): I imagine it to be so.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Is that an idea? That we get Maurice de Hond to examine the consumer behaviour of our viewers?
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): The more depth you go into, the more accurate your calculation. So that would be a good idea.
Marijn Frank (KVW): So that would be a good idea. Yes.
[Marijn Frank (KVW) rings the doorbell of another office...]
Maurice de Hond: Hi. Hello. Good afternoon, come in.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Marijn Frank, Keuringsdienst van waarde.
Maurice de Hond: Take a seat.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Thank you. If all went well, you have reviewed for us what is the consumption of viewers of Keuringsdienst van Waarde.
[Text on screen: Statistician Maurice de Hond]
Maurice de Hond: That’s right.
Marijn Frank (KVW): What have you studied?
Maurice de Hond: We have asked everything that was associated with watching and using energy. For example, how high the temperature was in the room where they were watching. And we investigated whether they drank anything during the broadcast. We asked what they ate while watching. Nuts: 3%, crisps: 2%.
Marijn Frank (KVW): 3% ate peanuts. 2% ate crisps.
Maurice de Hond: In numbers given … You’re talking about 650,000 viewers. If you look at the nuts, which is 3%. Then you have almost 20,000 people who eat nuts during your show.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Quite a lot.
Maurice de Hond: With fruit, it’s 25,000 pieces of fruit.
Marijn Frank (KVW): I see.
Maurice de Hond: And nearly 50,000 biscuits during the broadcast.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Cookies.
Maurice de Hond: Cookies or biscuits. We also asked, since it was also a lot of energy, whether people used sanitary facilities during the broadcast.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Whether they have been to the toilet.
Maurice de Hond: What percentage do you think? I will not mention the numbers.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Then I’d get really scared. I think … It is 25 minutes. Er … I think, let me say that 20% went to the toilet.
Maurice de Hond: You’re almost right. 23% say they go to the toilet during the broadcast.
Marijn Frank (KVW): They say whether it was the big message?
Maurice de Hond: We asked. 1% said the big message, the rest not.
Marijn Frank (KVW): 1% have a crap during the Keuringsdienst.
Maurice de Hond: Yes, about 6,000 people.
Marijn Frank (KVW): (laughing) About which broadcast did you ask this?
Maurice de Hond: Er … I do not know any more.
Marijn Frank (KVW): How many people go for a pee?
Maurice de Hond: 22%. That is, in numbers, some 150,000 people.
Marijn Frank (KVW): Jeez.
[Back in the office of Green Choice...]
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): So you need 10,000 for a household.
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): Yes.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Jeez. Huge, huh? How much forest do you have?
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): On the coast, we have 85,000 hectares. And coastline, which they define in Brazil on the banks of the rivers.
Jurjen Algra (Green Choice): Let’s see, you know.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Is that the map of Brazil?
Jurjen Algra (Green Choice): Yes.
Michiel Rexwinkel (Green Choice): That’s the biggest town in the Amazon.
Jurjen Algra (Green Choice): This is north Brazil. The part of the Amazon. You can see the Amazon River running through it.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): This is really the Amazon?
Jurjen Algra (Green Choice): Yes. Here we bought the first forest.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): OK.
[Maarten Remmers (KVW) walks down a street in Brazil...]
[Website of the shown on screen...]
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): This is Maurice Dekkers from the Netherlands.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): I saw some fantastic property for sale in the Amazon area, with a beautiful river.
Yes. We have several parcels in the Amazon region. We have very nice rivers.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Can you tell me what is the price for a piece of land in Brazil?
We’re asking 250 real per hectare, which is about €120 per hectare.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): €120 per hectare? And a hectare is 10,000 square metres, huh?
[inaudible] That is 10,000 square metres.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): 10,000 square metres. That, that, that’s nothing! It’s almost for free.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): It’s one cent for a square metre.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): It’s unbelievable.
That’s the price.
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Are there still Indians in the forest?
Yeah, there is. Indians don’t really have one specific home so they kind of wander. And most land owners will kick the Indians off or kill the Indians when they wander on.
How many hectares would you be interested in buying?
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): Well, as much as possible.
Oh, how many … er …
Maurice Dekkers (KVW): I cannot tell, because I have to do some calculations. That’s why I’m gonna send you an email.
[Back in DNV's office...]
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Hi
Marijn Frank (KVW): Hi. Did it work?
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): Yes. It worked. It was just counting, but I’m out.
Marijn Frank (KVW): You’re out. OK. Was it shocking?
Alexander Gijsen (DNV): I think that is a bit of a tough question. I can tell for your reaction.
Marijn Frank (KVW): OK, OK.
[Maarten Remmers (KVW) knocks on the office door of ...]
Maarten Remmers (KVW): .
That’s our company.
[Text on screen: Land seller ]
Maarten Remmers (KVW): OK, explain me a bit about what you do exactly.
We basically sell land for reforestation or for carbon trading projects. And we may sell to an existing cattle farm. It’s an existing cattle farm but we don’t partake in any type of deforestation.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So you’re a kind of broker of like Brazilian big plots of land?
We’re a real estate consultant, basically. We tell people how to buy, we know absolutely everything about the laws and the Amazon.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): With this whole green revolution going on we thought it would be a great idea to have people compensated for watching TV.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So for a whole year of Keuringsdienst van Waarde, the show we produce, we want a ll viewers to be compensated for what they use, you know putting on their TV screens, eating snacks, having drinks, heating up their place. So we calculated it and we should have somewhere near around 43 hectares.
Yeah, we can do that.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): You have that?
Yes, we have a 43 hectare lot for sale. And you can use the carbon credits you would have from that to compensate all your viewers.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): That would be great, right?
That would be great.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Just watching TV without having to worry about you know the climate etc. Can you tell me a bit about that land and how that works. So how does it compensate for our viewers?
Basically, this isn’t the specific plot of land, but this land is right in this vicinity to deforestation. This is deforestation taking place. And the land will be purchased and as these deforesters, these people who are taking down the land get there we’ll have somebody there monitoring it and they’ll say hey, you can’t cut that land.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Really?
Maarten Remmers (KVW): There’ll be some guy in the middle of the rainforest standing there and saying …
Actually, because it’s a very large project we have, for different Brazillian Foundations who are buying to oversee the monitoring of land.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So, if these poor farmers come in and they slash and burn the land they are stopping that.
Yeah, they will stop it. And these people are simple people so if you say, don’t go there, they are not going to go there.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): They are simple people?
Yeah, they are simple people. They are not gonna, if you say hey, there’s a project here you can’t go on that land that’s not your land, that’s somebody else’s land they won’t do it.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): But how does a forest which zou know has been there for I don’t know, millions of years, how does that compensate for the people who are watching because this was here already. It’s not like we are planting a new forest.
Well, it compensates because if you don’t cut it, or I mean, sorry, if you don’t buy it these people right here will cut it down. And you just put up almost 30,000 tons of carbon in the air, if you don’t buy it. I’m not trying to give you pressure tactics here but you know, we’re talking 30,000 tons of carbon are going to go up if you don’t buy it.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): It’s kind of like blackmailing almost. Like if you don’t buy it we’ll cut it down.
Yeah, it is. I’m not trying to do that but it’s imminent. This whole region, the area that we are targetting for these projects we have a total of about 600,000 hectares, we have 200,000 hectares in carbon credit projects and the area is, it is expected for immanent deforestation over the next 15 years.
Voice over: Offset forests will only work with a little threat. Before the purchase here check whether the forest is still there.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Eddy? Maarten. Hi.
Eddy Loomans: Good morning.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Maarten Remmers, Keuringsdienst van Waarde.
Voice over: We go out with a reliable Belgian called Eddy.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): It feels a bit like coming home. A Flemish man who works in Brazil on forests offsets.
Eddy Loomans: Yes, that’s a long story.
[Text on screen: Land seller Eddy Loomans]
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Here are huge tracts removed.
Eddy Loomans: Yes. This is the historical deforestation of the island of Marajo.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): All the open areas that you see here, where they once forest?
Eddy Loomans: Maarten, I think we are coming pretty close to your offset forest.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Where is it, exactly?
Eddy Loomans: Here. Exactlly there. If all goes well, we will fly there within a few seconds. There. From here it begins. This is the border.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Where we are flying over, that is the Keuringsdienst offset forest?
Eddy Loomans: Right. That is your offset forest.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): In any case it looks like a forest.
Eddy Loomans: Lots of trees, huh?
Maarten Remmers (KVW): But to come here now if we are going to …
Eddy Loomans: That is a boat trip of about seven to eight hours. Then you can visit your forest. But that is only by boat.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): But it is this?
Eddy Loomans: Yes.
[Back to office...]
How’s it going Maarten?
Maarten Remmers (KVW): All right.
Good. How was the trip?
Maarten Remmers (KVW): A bit tiring but very interesting.
Sit down. Relax.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So yeah, I actually you know, saw the actual piece of land. And it looks like a forest.
Well it is a forest.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So where was it exactly?
Here it is. You were right here (pointing at laptop computer). In this small little speck on the map.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So, yeah. You know, I think we should do it. I think we should buy it.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Yes.
Er, have you, do you want to negotiate, or do you just want to pay the seller’s asking price? So what was the, er …
Maarten Remmers (KVW): What, er, of course I’m clueless about prices, but what would it usually cost per hectare?
Well we’d do a special deal it would be 250 real per hectare. Which is around I would say €120 per hectare.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): €120 per hectare?
Yeah. Let me do the math, just to make sure, because normally I’m in dollars. It is, it would be €113 per hectare.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So that is, if you calculate that to square metre, so per square metre?
Per square metre, it’s about, it would be, per square metre, you’re looking at less than like one, one cent.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): One cent.
One cent per square metre.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Wow. So the, of course I’m kind of clueless, but one cent per square metre sounds like a good deal.
It is a good deal. It’s a great deal.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So if we add that up for 43 hectares, so 70 soccer fields, it would make a total price of …
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So a little under €5,000.
Yeah, slightly under 5,000.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): All right, so for €5,000 we can compensate a year long viewing of our TV show. And it includes people watching and turning on their TVs, their heating, their drinks.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): I think we should do it. How do I know it’s going to be mine?
Well, I’ll give you the title deeds. And you can verify with any law firm.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Because I heard some stories about you know land being sold a few times to different people with you know …
Well what it is is they have a lot of land that doesn’t have, it’s fabricated title. You know, it’s fake title. You don’t take the good land and you sell it over and over again, what you do, you take a fake title and sell the title over and over again. So you could do that but that won’t be good.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So how do I know that you’re not messing around with me?
No, you can, we’re a reputable source in the Amazon. We’re the only source in the Amazon. And I believe it actually does a very honest job here.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): I mean, the rest, of all the people doing the same stuff as you do?
Well, there’s not really anybody doing it, that’s the thing.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): But you think it’s a good idea, right?
I think it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea to save the planet. So. Let’s sign the purchase agreement. I have one right here.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): OK. Let’s make the deal.
Yeah, let’s do it, let me grab a contract.
[Text on screen: Next week in the Keuringsdienst van Waarde. Trailer for next week's programme follows...]
Maarten Remmers (KVW): It seems to be all in here. The €4865.
Alright. OK, it looks good.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Yeah, you’re happy?
[ and Maarten Remmers (KVW) walk out of the office together...]
Maarten Remmers (KVW): So that’s it for now?
That’s it we’re done. It was great doing business with you.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Thank you. I hope the forest will compensate, you know, as it should.
It compensates everybody.
Maarten Remmers (KVW): Yeah. I’m excited. So, we’ll be in touch. Thanks again.
Take it easy.