Offsets with safeguards can work
Offsets can play an important role in fighting climate change, if they help us make deeper, faster reductions at a lower cost, rather than slow the vitally needed transition to clean energy technologies. To make this happen, we need three safeguards:
First, offsets should be paired with ambitious pollution reduction targets. The short term (2020) target in the House-passed climate bill fails to meet this standard and should be strengthened, but the longer term (2030, 2050) targets are stronger.
Second, we should set a reasonable limit on the amount of offsets. The House bill would allow nearly 100 percent of the 2020 target to be met via offsets. This is far too high and could dangerously delay our transition to a cleaner energy sector.
Third, high quality standards should be set for both domestic and international offsets. A recent WWF-commissioned study of private sector investors found great interest in forest carbon offsets, but also cautioned that the market is looking for carbon investments that meet high standards, not cheap tons of questionable quality. For example, international forestry offsets should be generated against national emissions baselines to avoid forest protected in one patch from being cut down somewhere else.
If these three safeguards are in place, offsets can help unleash the power of private sector capital to achieve key reductions that would not have otherwise occurred and, in the process, help protect the life and health of our planet.
Posted by: A1965bigdog | October 25, 2009 7:53 AM
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