Beat it, it’s the emis­sions heat

Car­bon Cops 8pm, ABC Blame, em­bar­rass­ment and mid­dle­class guilt are the key in­gre­di­ents

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

LIFESTYLE television tells the story of our lives. It dis­cov­ers pop stars, sur­vives evic­tion, loses weight, runs restau­rants and buys, ren­o­vates and sells prop­erty. Now it’s turn­ing its blis­ter­ing in­sight on the latest hot is­sue du jour, cli­mate change.

In the open­ing episode of Car­bon Cops, two earnest young en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, Lish Fe­jer and Sean Fitzger­ald, blow the lid on the source of most of the world’s in­creas­ing green­house gas emis­sions. It seems most of them are com­ing from the Bar­rie house­hold, an af­flu­ent mid­dle- class fam­ily liv­ing some­where in in­ner Melbourne. It’s a re­lief for the rest of us to fi­nally have some­one to blame.

And that’s just it. Blame, em­bar­rass­ment and mid­dle- class guilt are the key in­gre­di­ents in this latest ABC con­tri­bu­tion to the moral cru­sade un­der­pin­ning pop­u­lar dis­course on cli­mate change.

Two- thirds of Aus­tralia’s emis­sions come from in­dus­try and the rapid growth of de­vel­op­ing economies poses an ex­tra­or­di­nary eco­nomic chal­lenge to cut­ting global emis­sions.

But don’t tell the Car­bon Cops. Dressed in emer­gency orange ten­pin bowl­ing shirts, th­ese moral po­lice have launched a house by house cam­paign of name and shame to ex­pose the ex­cess and self­ish­ness of or­di­nary Aus­tralian house­holds that waste­fully emit tonnes of green­house gases each year.

Each week they teach a house­hold a new way of liv­ing to re­duce green­house emis­sions by ‘‘ mod­i­fy­ing their lux­ury lifestyle’’.

And who bet­ter to start on than the Barries, a fam­ily of four that boasts a back­yard pool, big and well- lit house, two cars and Dad’s suc­cess­ful small busi­ness. They even have a bar fridge.

In to­tal they gen­er­ate 62 tonnes of green­house gases a year, four times the house­hold av­er­age. ‘‘ Shame!’’ ad­mon­ishes Lish. Thank good­ness they don’t have air­con­di­tion­ing.

Then the epiphany be­gins. The Barries are chal­lenged to cut their emis­sions by half. They un­dergo an en­ergy au­dit com­plete with a moral com­pass that lights up and beeps when the fam­ily is us­ing too much elec­tric­ity, which seems to be most of the time.

The pool pump is sin­gled out and shut down, as is the tum­ble dryer, in­sink food waste dis­poser and the 100- odd halo­gen and other lights around the house.

Ex­ten­sive but un­costed mod­i­fi­ca­tions are made to the house and a home com­post bin is in­stalled, as is a pool blan­ket and low- en­ergy lights.

But that’s not enough. Mum ad­mits to feel­ing guilty and dis­cov­ers that all this time they have lived near enough to the kids’ school that she can walk with them there in­stead of driv­ing.

In the end it’s Dad’s cheque­book that comes to the res­cue, buy­ing off­sets for his air and car travel and more ex­pen­sive green en­ergy for the house. Smug smiles all around. Moral cri­sis averted, but then it’s all in a day’s work for the Car­bon Cops.

Matthew War­ren

Just the facts, ma’am: Car­bon Cops hosts Sean Fitzger­ald and Lish Fe­jer

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