I am watching the debate with interest as the vote swings inexorably in favour of those against carbon offsetting. There are many views against ranging from the specific (preventing Brazil reach an agreement on REDD) and the reduction stick bashers. I have sympathy with the specifics but less so for the reduction stick bashers. I have been practicing as an engineer whose sole purpose in life over the past 16 years has been energy efficiency. Telling companies to reduce by 80% because ‘they have to’ when it costs them more and more to make those reductions does not work. They need a financial incentive.
If carbon investment is not the answer (which I still believe it is part of) then perhaps a Planet Positive world carbon fund that taxes all businesses and individuals and incentivises products and systems that do deliver real reductions.
The point is that we can’t just sit there on the sidelines screaming REDUCE. It’s not working! We have to get off our backsides and do something about it that engages the whole world ( the rich and the poor).
6th December 2008
Today the economist starts an important debate on offsetting. Is it good or bad?
In summary the ‘against’ ( Mr. Wara) argues that offsetting is too crude a tool and open to too much fraud to make it worthwhile. He also states that offsetting cannot be used instead of reductions.
This argument is out of date and for me misses the whole point. Yes, of course you have to reduce first and most businesses are doing this anyway. The point is that unless we support poorer nations in their desire to implement low carbon technologies (which cost more) then they will use the the old, and cheaper fossil fuelled ones - just as we have been doing for the past 200 years!
The offset process is a way of these poorer nations getting legitimate additional funding for better solutions, without which they just will not happen.
But I do agree with MW that the VER as a financial instrument is crude and imperfect. It remains open to abuse by carbon cowboys, but then what part of (financial) life isn’t subject to abuse from time to time. What we need is joint action and agreement around the world to create a single tool that can be policed and verified easily but effectively like the one produced by The Climate Group and used as a basis for our Planet Positive Project Protocol.
MW is berating an imperfect world - but this is the only one we have got and we had better get on with saving it QUICK!
4th December 2008