checkbook environmentalist
n. A person or company that contributes to the protection of the environment solely by donating money to environmental causes or by purchasing carbon offsets.
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But, for those who have released a supernumerary cloud of CO2 (through flying, for example), and who want to pay, is there another solution? One strategy is to make a donation to a non-profit environmental organisation or to a charity that works in regions affected by climate change (pick anywhere in the developing world). This, of course, won't stop one from being labelled a "chequebook environmentalist", but at least there is more transparency about the money's destination.
—Jane Powers, “Planet matters,” The Irish Times, April 07, 2007
A growing number of organizations, corporations, cities, and individuals are seeking to protect the climate—or at least claim bragging rights for protecting the climate. Rather than take the arduous step of significantly cutting their own emissions of carbon dioxide, many in the ranks of the environmentally concerned are paying to have someone else curtail air pollution or develop "renewable" energy sources. Carbon offsets, as the most common variety of these deals is known, have become one of the most widely promoted products marketed to checkbook environmentalists.
—Ben Elfin, “Another Inconvenient Truth,” Business Week, March 26, 2007
2003 (earliest)
Fascinating New York Times piece regarding a proposed wind farm for Nantucket Sound. Suddenly, all the environmentally friendly locals are going ballistic over the prospects of seeing an 'industrial energy complex' in their backyard. Walter Cronkite decries it, as do many other local checkbook environmentalists. Greenpeace says 'Jim Gordon (the developer) is the real thing, there aren't many entrepreneurs out there willing to take risks to clean up the environment.' Who's right?
—DoraLives, “A Mighty Wind,” Slashdot, June 15, 2003