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Sometimes a symbolic act by a giant corporation can seem like 
a provocation, and sometimes, as in the case of Peugeot planting 
a small forest in a deforested area of the Amazon, the action is 
a significant enough symbolic act to render more credible 
whatever else they are doing to make their automobiles less 
polluting. In creating their carbon sink, Peugeot established 
an international partnership with French and Brazilian forestry 
officials, as well as with the local residents who are employed 
by the project. The carbon sink in the Amazon is a civic action 
on the part of a planetary corporate citizen. If all large 
corporations whose products contribute to global warming would 
do as much, deforestation in the Amazon or in Malaysia might be 
reversed. As a proviso, however, we offer an analysis of what the 
Peugeot carbon sink represents in terms of actual compensation 
for carbon emissions.
The following is a press release from Peugeot in June 1999.


Peugeot SA announced the creation of a carbon sink in the State of 
Mato Grosso in the heart of the Brazilian tropical rainforest. 
Peugeot invested 65 million francs in the project [6.5 million euros, 
or about 7.5 million dollars], the first of its kind, in response 
to the issues raised at the Kyoto and Buenos Aires conferences on 
global warming.
A carbon sink re-creates an ecosystem capable of absorbing large 
amounts of CO2. To establish this huge environmental project, 
Peugeot called on the ONF (French National Bureau of Forestry), 
internationally known for its technical expertise and for its 
management of public forests, and Pro-Natura International, a 
Franco-Brazilian non-governmental organisation based in Paris, known 
for its experience in tropical rainforests and for its promotion 
of innovative forestry management in 25 countries.
Peugeot’s carbon sink is being developed in Juruena, in the Mato 
Grosso, and will cover 12,000 hectares, which is twice the area 
of the city of Paris (about 200 km2). It will have the capacity 
to absorb 50,000 tons per year of carbon, equal to 183,000 tons 
per year of carbon dioxide, for 40 years, at which point the 
full-grown trees will cease to absorb CO2. Both internal and 
independent, external, auditing systems are planned for measuring 
actual amounts of carbon absorbed.
The sink will consist of 5,000 hectares of deforested agricultural 
lands, which will be replanted, and 7,000 hectares of old- and 
second-growth forest mixed with areas of cultivated forest. Ten 
million trees are being planted within the first three years of 
the project. In creating this carbon sink, Peugeot is establishing 
the other half of their global environmental policy to complement 
efforts being made to reduce emissions produced by Peugeot vehicles. 
These efforts include cars fuelled by electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, 
Diesel HDI (high-pressure direct-injection technology), and biofuels.

EDITOR’S NOTE [our analysis of what the Peugeot carbon sink means]

In Europe, an average car emits 186 g of CO2 per km, in Japan 191 g, 
and in the United States 260 g. If we take 200 as the average and 
assume that an average car is driven 10,000 km a year and lasts for 
ten years, the 183,000 tons of CO2 per year absorbed by Peugeot’s 
carbon sink compensates for 9,000 new cars a year for 40 years, 
assuming no further improvements in automobile emissions occur in 
that period. The 65 million francs invested by Peugeot in a carbon 
sink amounts to about 180 francs [28 euros or 33 dollars] a car 
at 9,000 cars per year for 40 years - not very expensive. At that 
price, the logical conclusion is that all automobile manufacturers 
should develop carbon sinks to compensate for all the cars they 
sell every year worldwide, and the planet would cease warming. 
How big would this carbon sink have to be? If it takes 200 km2 of 
new forest to compensate for 9,000 cars per year for 40 years, 
and Peugeot sells about 2,277,600 (1998) new cars and light-utility 
vehicles a year worldwide, full compensation for emissions would 
require a carbon sink of approximately 40,000 km2. The world’s 
automakers sold more than 51 million new cars and light trucks 
worldwide in 1998. To compensate for their emissions, assuming 
no future reductions, it would take a carbon sink of new forest 
equal to 15% of Brazil to get us through the next 40 years. And 
this is without addressing emissions from the more than 500 million 
cars already on the roads of the world, or, it is important to point 
out, without taking note of the size of the world’s already-existing 
and still-active carbon sinks or of new ones being planted.
Obviously, and Peugeot understands this very well, while their Mato 
Grosso carbon sink is a grand gesture that other automobile manufacturers 
might want to join, most of the challenge lies in reducing fuel 
consumption, in changing the ways cars can be driven, and in reducing 
car use altogether.
Regardless of its imprecise value, the carbon sink idea is spreading 
as it becomes a tool of the carbon credit process now developing. 
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planting 40,000 hectares of new forest 
in Australia to reduce the impact of its carbon emissions. 
Tokyo Electric’s carbon credit deal signed with State Forests of 
New South Wales is worth US$81 million.

Metaphors for Change: Partnerships, Tools and Civic Action for Sustainability  	

Edited by Penny Allen, 
Association for Colloquia on the Environment with 
Christophe Bonazzi, Association for Colloquia on the Environment and 
David Gee, European Environment Agency

How can we get from where we are to where we want to be? 
Metaphors for Change attempts to answer this question and provide a 
roadmap for sustainability by bringing together the thoughts of a 
unique collection of leading change agents from business, government 
and academia.

Environmental questions have previously been dealt with 
metaphorically, by catastrophism or manicheism 
(zero growth; Malthusianism, Deep Ecology; 'man is the enemy'; 
less is more). These metaphors have had limited impact 
because they have failed to connect with the mainstream of 
cultural, political, and business ideas. This book examines 
a number of new metaphors - and related partnerships, tools 
and action - which appear to have greater possibilities for 
the world in which we now live.

The editors argue that Metaphors for Change can deliver to 
the public and to decision-makers new perceptions 
('structured knowledge') that can help interpret the 
past and the present, and help us forge the future. The wider 
the gap between the 'now' and the 'necessary', the stronger 
the bridging perceptions have to be in order to break through 
barriers of fear and conservatism. Some of the concepts 
considered are: sustainable development; the polluter pays 
principle; the precautionary principle; eco-efficiency; 
eco-effectiveness; life-cycle assessment; design for the 
environment; eco-services; dematerialisation; industrial 
symbiosis; industrial ecology; and zero emissions. 
There are of course other useful metaphors on the horizon, 
some of them included in this book.

Including key contributions from the ground-breaking 
conferences ECO 97 and ECO 99, along with other specially 
commissioned and reprinted pieces, Metaphors for Change 
provides a treasure chest of new ideas, innovations and action. 
Accessible and forward-thinking, it will prove indispensable 
both as a student learning tool and as a panoramic overview of 
the sustainability metaphors key thinkers believe we should be 
putting into practice.

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