A well-reported front page story in today’s Washington Post shows that the indulgence–oops, I mean Carbon Credit Offset industry–doesn’t always work as advertised. Many people are really just buying “good feelings.”
The FTC is apperently investigating and may impose new regulations on those who sell carbon credit offsets. My reaction to this is pretty simple: it’s best to oppose the idea of imposing new state-sponsored regulations–or really, any regulations–on the carbon credit business. Determining what does and doesn’t reduce C02 emissions is a tricky job at best and downright impossible at worst. By all accounts, proving that a given reduction will have an impact on global warming is impossible at the moment. If we want this business to accomplish its goals, then we’re far better off leaving it alone and letting the market figure out how to reduce carbon emissions. If people really do just want to buy good feelings, then, well, that’s fine too. Demanding that many of these companies–some of them non-profit–show that they actually reduce carbon credits is like demanding that a church justify its status by proving that it gives people access to heaven or (if you want to avoid the snark factor) asking a human service charity to prove that its donations actually reduce poverty.