Bogus carbon offset schemes

From the BBC,

UK to tackle bogus carbon schemes

The UK government is to set standards for carbon offsetting schemes to bring “greater clarity” to the industry.

The move comes as an increasing number of consumers try to limit the environmental impact of actions such as driving a car or flying by plane.

However, carbon offsetting schemes have been attacked for a lack of transparency and inconsistent prices.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said the voluntary standards would help consumers pick “genuine” projects.

Trees and bulbs

There are a number of ways that consumers can offset their carbon emissions, including paying for trees to be planted and buying energy efficient light bulbs for use in developing nations.

The worry for the government has been that the benefits of many of the projects have proved difficult to verify and may be open to abuse…

Some carbon offsetting schemes have been criticised for failing to bring about real carbon emission reductions – because projects are hard to verify, reductions are only temporary or the reductions would have happened anyway…

Obviously, harmonized carbon taxes (link is to a discussion paper by William Nordhaus, see also this previous post) would have been much better than a cap-and-trade system combined with highly dubious offset schemes. So why haven’t the politicians pushed for taxes? Well, for one thing, most people don’t like additional taxes. By avoiding the world “tax” you may fool some of the people into thinking that they can get something for nothing.

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