Miracle of carbon offsets mostly a mirage

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    Martin W

      Interesting column in the Globe and Mail punctures notion carbon offsets are always a good thing:

      With so many individuals and companies eager to have their lifestyle sins forgiven through the miracle of carbon offsets, the obvious question is … are they actually helping the environment? It turns out that this miracle is mostly a mirage. European signatories to the Kyoto Accord were the first to jump on the carbon offsets bandwagon.

      A special investigative report by London's Financial Times revealed that, "Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on carbon credit projects that yield few, if any, environmental benefits. Some organizations are paying for emissions reductions that don't take place. Others are making big profits from carbon trading … for cleanups that would have happened anyway." The findings included murky brokers selling carbon offsets for fictitious or highly questionable projects, industrial corporations being paid for Third World cleanup projects they were required to do and "carbon cowboy" brokers selling the same credits several times over. Examples include unverifiable tree planting projects in the remotest corners of the world and a solar power project in South Africa that was never built. …

      Those looking to buy forgiveness for their eco-sins might heed the words of environmentalist Denis Hayes, president of the U.S.-based Bullitt Foundation: "The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church's sale of indulgences back before the Reformation. The whole game is in need of a modern Martin Luther."

      Everyone's profiting from carbon offsets. Too bad the environment isn't

      The Financial Times article also includes:

      The FT investigation found: Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions. Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially. Brokers providing services of questionable or no value. A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits. Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

      Industry caught in carbon ‘smokescreen’

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