Fox to make TV programs carbon neutral by 2010


Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 7

When a dark-colored SUV raced through the streets of Washington, flipped over and burst into flames on Fox’s fast-paced action show 24 last week, viewers probably were not calculating how much carbon dioxide the explosion produced.

But executives at Fox have been paying close attention.

Yesterday the network to announced that 24 was going green, becoming the first “carbon neutral” TV series.

Among other things, Fox said it had hired consultants to measure the carbon-dioxide output from the production, started using 20 percent biodiesel fuel in trucks and generators, installed motion monitors in bathrooms and kitchens to make the lights more efficient and paid the higher fees that help California utilities buy wind and solar power.

Car crashes posed a bigger problem; even hybrid vehicles emit carbon dioxide when blown up. To achieve true carbon neutrality the scripts would have to avoid shooting on location and staging chase scenes, something likely to disappoint even the greenest viewers.

So the producers decided to settle for buying carbon offsets, which in theory make up for emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, by paying other people to generate enough clean energy to compensate — in this case wind-power plants in India.

The producers said they bought enough credits to offset 1,291 tonnes of carbon dioxide, just over a half-season’s worth of emissions.

“If we’ve needed a car chase, we’ve had a car chase,” said Howard Gordon, executive producer of 24. “Our obligation is first and foremost to the fans. If we have budget cuts and need to save money, then we’ll have fewer car crashes.”

Rupert Murdoch, spurred by a presentation by former US vice president Al Gore, said last year that he intended to make News Corp, Fox’s parent, carbon neutral by next year, and the network’s campaign, the producers said, was part of that effort.

Still, the green fervor is an interesting turn for a show known more for playing out terrorist themes pioneered by the Bush administration and for graphic portrayals of torture in prime time.