Cool nrg

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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.
Cool nrg is the brainchild of big earning social enterprise innovator Nic Frances. Formed in 2007 as a global expansion of his previous company Easy Being Green, the firm provides carbon trading and energy efficiency advice and projects through the Clean Development Mechanism and business-government partnerships which are profitable to the businesses and themselves (cool nrg had £200 million turnover in 2008)[1]. Originally based in Australia, the company now has offices in Melbourne, London, Beijing and Mexico, as well as the US, France and Spain.

Cool nrg's front page claims in large letters that 'We Fight Climate Change'. The company also claims that poverty reduction (through energy efficiency) is a core principal.[2]

Its European arm is based in Grosvenor Gardens House alongside a number of similar carbon market-based firms, lobby groups and organisations.

Lightbulbs will save the planet!

Energy saving lightbulbs have been the centrepiece of cool nrg's projects. In January 2008 cool nrg partnered with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and The Sun newspaper to give away 2.5 million fluorescent bulbs across the UK with each newspaper, achieving the Guiness Book of Records title of biggest single energy-efficiency undertaking. The front page featured Gordon Brown urging readers to take the bulbs, an action in line with the government's emphasis on individual behaviour changes (as opposed to industrial cutbacks) as a climate change strategy. 400,000 extra copies of the paper were sold - a 15 per cent increase in sales, while SSE won significant carbon credits by buying lightbulbs. [3]. Their PR firm Bite Communications was praised in PR Week for its orchestration of the clever campaign, effected through exclusive deals with the Sun. [4]

In another lightbulb centered and media-hyped campaign cool nrg plans to give out 30 million energy saving lightbulbs to the 'Mexican poor', which it claims is pro-environment and anti-poverty. It claims that 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be saved - (equivalent to closing down Mexico City streets to traffic for a year) whilst also cutting electricity bills for poor customers. In return, it will earn Cool nrg up to 8 million carbon credits to be sold on the European carbon market. Cool nrg have already secured a deal through carbon broker TFS Green to sell the first million credits generated to an un-named Dutch company above the current deflated market price.[5]

The large figures of carbon savings from low energy light bulbs quoted by cool nrg do not take into account the carbon (and other pollutant) costs of manufacturing and disposing of these bulbs. In fact low energy bulbs have come under serious criticism in recent years for their relatively un-ecological attributes as well as serious health effects and issues with disposal[6].

Low-energy light bulbs contain mercury, an extremely dangerous toxin that builds up in body tissues. Because of this, official advice from the Department of the Environment states that if a low-energy bulb is smashed, the room needs to be vacated for at least 15 minutes. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up the debris, and care should be taken not to inhale the dust. Instead, rubber gloves should be used, and the broken bulb put into a sealed plastic bag - which should be taken to the local council for disposal.[7]

Links to questionable carbon markets

Cool nrg has links to the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS) which was particularly criticised in a 2008 ENDS report for not ensuring that carbon reductions are additional to business-as-usual.[8]. Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs) such as this can have vastly different standards of certification and verification and monitoring, a situation which openly invites abuse of the system and large-scale greenwash.[9]

History

Cool nrg were previously called Easy Being Green from 2003-2007.

Affiliations

PR

Burson-Marsteller was appointed for cool nrg's PR needs on Oct 7th 2009. The company was responsible for cool nrg's planned Copenhagen run-up campaign.[12] Previous PR firm: Bite Communications

UK Trade and Investment

An FoI request into dealings between UK Trade and Investment and Cool nrg confirmed that the former "have provided advice and assistance on overseas markets to"[13] the latter. However, this information could not be disclosed as it was deemed commercially sensitive.

Board members

Executive team

Other staff:


Clients

Publications

Contact

Main office:

Cool nrg International Pty Ltd (Head Office)
269 Stewart Street Brunswick East
VIC 3057 Australia
Phone: +61 3 9387 2964
Fax: +61 3 9387 0299
info@coolnrg.com

European headquarters:

Grosvenor Gardens House
35-37 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1W 0BS
Phone +44 20 7953 4081


Resources

Notes

  1. Nick Mathiason, 'The colour of money just got greener: The only way to save the planet is to help big business to make a profit from it, the founder of eco-dealmaker Cool NRG tells Nick Mathiason' The Observer, Sunday 13 April 2008
  2. cool nrg Front page, Accessed 29/11/09
  3. Nick Mathiason, 'The colour of money just got greener: The only way to save the planet is to help big business to make a profit from it, the founder of eco-dealmaker Cool NRG tells Nick Mathiason' The Observer, Sunday 13 April 2008
  4. Alex Black, PR Week, May 30, 2008, 'Harnessing the power of low-energy'
  5. Adam Morton, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), June 20, 2009, 'How many light bulbs does it take to change the world? This man and his company are working on an answer'
  6. The Ecologist, 7 January 2008.'Dark Days for Low Energy Light Bulbs', accessed 12 Feb 2010
  7. Low-energy bulb disposal warning, BBC News Online, 5 Jan 2008, accessed 29 Nov 2009
  8. ENDS Report, April 23, 2008 'JP Morgan deal boosts voluntary carbon market', sub req'd to access full article. Accessed 12 Feb 2010
  9. ENDS Report, April 23, 2008 'JP Morgan deal boosts voluntary carbon market', sub req'd to access full article. Accessed 12 Feb 2010
  10. The Great British Light Switch sets a Great British Record, Cool nrg, press release, 3 Mar 2008, accessed 12 Feb 2010
  11. PRCA Public Affairs Register 1 Jul 2008 - 31 Dec 2008, PRCA website, accessed 12 Feb 2010
  12. John Smith, 'Burson-Marsteller wins Cool nrg International PR mandate' October 7, 2009, Media News International, accessed 12 Feb 2010
  13. whatdotheyknow.com, dealings with cool nrg and UK Business Council For Sustainable Development, accessed 12 Feb 2010
  14. cool nrg Board of directors, Accessed 29/11/09
  15. cool nrg Board of directors, Accessed 29/11/09