Buying Indulgences: The Carbon Market

My opinion - based on gut reaction, not any deep analysis - of carbon trading is that it's equivalent to the religious practice of buying indulgences: sin all you like, as long as your pockets are deep enough to buy "penance."

It doesn't work. The problem is that carbon, like sin, is itself a very deep pocket. There's no cap on carbon emissions, at least in this country, the single largest contributor. Without a cap, "supply" is unlimited, and no incentive to reduce emissions. There's a perverse dysfunctional incentive to emit more carbon to create more "product" to sell.

Selling indulgences creates a disincentive to reduce sin.
The business of climate change is heating up -- along with the planet -- so fast that many ordinary folks are left wanting to do right but wondering where their money goes. The emerging carbon-offset industry has little oversight or transparency, so it's difficult for consumers to see if they are really being a "hero" by going "zero" -- as Travelocity preaches on its Web site -- or being suckered.

There's no quick and easy way for consumers to see exactly how the money is spent.
Just because someone pays to offset a ton of carbon pollution doesn't mean that a ton is taken out of the atmosphere. Also, offsetting a ton of carbon dioxide doesn't even mean that is the gas being offset. Everything is converted to carbon -- meaning that one molecule of methane, a really bad gas -- is equal to 23 molecules of carbon dioxide -- a somewhat bad gas.

- Feel Less Than Green?
via 3rliving, a local business on 5th Avenue in Park Slope which promotes the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

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