Planet Gore

Get Rid of Carbon Offsets?

The Washington Post is running a feature today on “12 things the world should toss out.” Carbon offsets made the list, at least according to Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

Global warming is our biggest environmental problem, and carbon offsets are one of our biggest barriers to a solution.

You know the idea: Let’s make climate rescue painless by paying Zambian farmers not to till their soil while America continues its oil- and coal-burning binge. Carbon “sequestered” in the soil — or in tropical trees — at one location will “offset” carbon emitted at another.

But the concept requires absolute and permanent knowledge of human activity everywhere on Earth. Were the Zambian farmers letting the land go fallow anyway? Will they avoid tilling forever? Will the purchased forest never see a chain saw or a wildfire?

Tragically, the cap-and-trade bill passed last year by the House of Representatives allows up to 2 billion tons of carbon offsets per year for U.S. companies. This turned the bill into a joke, making it possible for carbon emissions to actually rise in America for the next two decades.

The rest here.

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