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'Syriana' attempts a green revolution

January 20, 2006|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

And the Oscar for "longest stretch in movie marketing" goes to ... " 'Syriana'!"

Warner Bros. Pictures, which produced what it describes as a "multilayered political thriller about the global oil industry," announced Wednesday that the movie featuring car bombings, the torching of an oil facility and an exploding ocean tanker was "green friendly."

The studio worked with Vermont-based NativeEnergy to estimate how much carbon dioxide -- a leading greenhouse gas -- would be produced through "Syriana"-related air travel, generators used on location, hotel rentals and other activities.

Then the studio bought "green credits" equal to 2,040 tons of carbon dioxide emissions to offset its own pollutants, leading to what activists refer to as a "climate neutral" production. The credits are from a Midwest wind farm and a family dairy farm's methane generator.

The average household produces 12 tons of carbon dioxide annually, and a car produces six tons, said NativeEnergy spokesman Billy Connelly. Warner Bros. declined to say how much it spent on the green credits, but Connelly said the firm's units range from $7 to $35 a credit and average about $12 a credit.

Green credits are, in essence, an accounting system for keeping track of emissions.

Under the Kyoto Protocol -- which the United States did not sign -- companies can be assigned a cap for the amount of emissions they produce. If they want to exceed their cap, they can buy green credits from firms that are not using their full allotment, Connelly said.

Since the U.S. does not follow the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in Japan in 1997, Warner Bros.' investment is in good intentions.

"What's being bought is the PR value, and the marketing value," Connelly said.

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