Let's not 'off' offsets just yet
I don't know what position Gertrude Stein might have taken on global warming, but I am certain that she would have grasped the concept of offsets: after all, a ton of CO2 is a ton of CO2 is a ton of CO2.
Granted that is simplistic, but it is the essence of offset programs. On a global scale, reducing a ton of carbon dioxide in Pennsylvania has the same impact as reducing a ton of CO2 in Brazil.
A slow economy and uncertainty as to the final shape and timing of climate legislation is not a signal to abandon the offset concept. The market will develop further when there are incentives - such as a climate bill that includes offsets - for companies to participate.
Of course, developing a robust offset market requires more than saying "go forth and plant trees." To succeed, qualifying offsets must be real, permanent, and verifiable, and meet rigorous environmental standards. Fortunately, the technology and expertise needed to ensure those criteria are met already exists.
Whether we end up with a cap-and-trade system or a carbon-tax system, offsets should be included. In a cap-and-trade plan, energy providers would purchase the reductions. With a carbon tax, the authority collecting the taxes could use them to pay for others to reduce emissions.
In addition to reducing green house gases in the atmosphere, the ancillary benefits of offsets are numerous and positive. For example, preserving rain forest also provides habitat diversity and protects endangered species. Offsets from reducing methane emitted in agriculture also have the added benefit of reducing phosphorous and nitrogen in our waters. Offsets can spur investments in renewables, making them more cost-effective to build.
In sum, offsets are a good idea. Let's give the process time to mature.
Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | March 21, 2010 1:45 AM
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