Talk:Carbon offset

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Arbitary Title[edit]

Excuse me but the first paragraph of this article contains unwarranted vituperous assertions against carbon offsets. An encylopedia should offer a more balanced definition of a concept/category. While today's carbon offset market is far from perfect (and please by all means point out every flaw the exists later in the article), it is not inherently elitist...or at least no more elitist than any other market/non-market based system. The concept of paying someone else to do something you cannot or prefer not to do has actually become foundational to our way of life. A ton of C02 emitted by Al Gore (the example used) is no different from a ton of CO2 emitted from anyone else, what the world should be concerned with is that global C02 emissions are reduced. As long as many ways to emit and trap carbon dioxide exist, some ways of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere will be cheaper than others. Carbon offsets allow society to pursue the least costly/disruptive methods of reducing CO2.

What the hell is a carbon offset?

   Please see the Wikipedia article on Carbon Offsets. mlhwitz 04:45, 14 September 2007 (UTC) 


It's a fraud. Can't you read?

Please use the 4~ to sign your name so we can really get a good debate on how to rank these schemes Snozzer 14:51, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone know enough to do a Comparison of carbon offset companies? - Dan

I suppose the key is to identifying suitable metrics to compare them, some are nothing more than simple tree planting schemes, others are 3rd world sustainability projects. The trouble is, each of the for profits (and the non profit) will all claim to have their unique selling point that makes them totally different from the others, so getting balanced metrics could be problematic. Snozzer 15:08, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
Good point. I think assigning a numerical metric - i.e. a score - would be impossible. A qualattative comparison table - in essence, an overview of the different companies - would still be valuable. Wikipedia has comparison tables for other 'products' (I'm thinking of software products such as Comparison_of_revision_control_software). We could attempt something similar. Columns in the table might be:

Profit/non-profit. What types of project do they support? E.g. energy trading (via the EU or Chicago markets), reforestation, development grants for 3rd world emissions reduction programs, outreach/education projects, etc, etc. Verification: what do they verify, and who stamps the certificates? Supporters: a short list of expert bodies who support the company. Critics: a short list of any expert criticisms levelled against the company. All of the above would need references to verifiable sources in order to prevent abuse.

- Dan
Some sort of quantitative indicator would be useful The daily telegraph (UK) has such a list, and give the equivalent cost of offsetting a return seat on a flight from London to New York. There is a surprising variety (£8.88 - £46.20) (one company has a different value for some reason (the equivalent is £11), but I have pointed that out to the newspaper, so it may change shortly) regards, Lynbarn 16:52, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Certification[edit]

One of the big issues when it comes to carbon offsets is whether or not they are third-party certified, if so by whom, if not why the organization could not get or chose not to seek third-party certification, whether governments should regulate certification, etc. A section dealing with this could be useful. Thumbtackz (talk) 19:34, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Accounting[edit]

I have added a small subnote that as no formal guidelines or regulations being in place, identifying offset is not achievable. "TheNose | Talk" 10:16, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

One of the bullets in this section used to read:

Permanent - are some benefits of the reductions reversible? (Examples: cutting down trees, finite lifetime of wind-powered generators)

I have removed the wind generator portion of the example; unlike the burning of wood (in which most of the sequestered carbon is returned to the atmosphere), the decommissioning of a wind generator does not nullify the environmental benefit it created over its operational lifetime. Yabbadab 18:23, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

You can still argue that energy projects do not permanently reduce emissions due to the rebound effect - more energy availability triggers more energy demand => the only "true" reduction is leaving coal in the ground, not producing more renewable energy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.132.214.48 (talk) 15:11, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Planting tropical forests cools Earth — Planting boreal forests warms earth[edit]

I've inserted a piece on the recent research [1] showing that when also albedo and cloud forming impacts of planting trees is considered, planting trees may not benefit the climate at all. It would be useful for this article's editors to keep an eye on further developments, and link to the full report when available. Jens Nielsen 12:18, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

89.240.138.104 rewrote: "... found little or no climate benefit when trees are planted in temperate regions alone. However, the study found that planting all over the planet surface including focus on tropical regions was very beneficial to the climate."

I reverted this rephrasing, which is misleading and conceals the main finding that planting in non-tropical regions may be outright harmful. Jens Nielsen 12:18, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

89.240.138.104 changed quote to the following: "I like forests. They provide good habitats for plants and animals, and tropical forests are good for climate, so we should be particularly careful to preserve them, But in terms of climate change, we should focus our efforts on things that can really make a difference, like improving efficiency and developing new sources of clean energy"

Why use the quote in the above form? It has no direct bearing on tree planting, and seems only an attempt to pick the most tree-positive quote from the report. Let's rather use a quote that conveys the main message of the report: "To plant forests to mitigate climate change outside of the tropics is a waste of time"[2].

Jens Nielsen 12:18, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

What is this discussion of benefit for the climate? The global climate or local climates? How can a climate benefit from anything? Who is benefiting? Is it meant that this maintains a (the) climate's current state which happens to be beneficial to -us-? This is just sloppy speech. Mintal 18:34, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I believe the albedo section could be better. It starts by citing a 2005 modelling study which suggests that if all the earth was covered by forests there would be a net warming effect - but which distinguishes between the cooling effect of trees in the tropics and the warming effects of trees in high latitudes.

The section then goes on to say that this is being challenged by ... and then cites a 2002 article in a non peer referenced magazine. It is difficult to see how someone in 2002 would have had the foresight to challenge something that was not going to be published until 2005. It then cites another article in a non peer referenced newsletter as evidence of a challenge when the article supports the view in the 2005 study that trees in the tropics cool.

Would it not be better to start with the 2000 study? Something like:

"In 2000 a UK Met Office scientist suggested that the gain from carbon capture as a result of tree planting was offset in higher latitudes becauses forests were generally darker than other soil cover ie had a lower albedo Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page).

This is not a valid argument because "it ignores the long-term carbon-neutral cycle of new trees replacing the ones that have died, either by replanting or regeneration. In this carbon-neutral cycle, the new trees re-absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide that the dying trees released." [3] -- Barrylb 07:18, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Typo[edit]

There's a typo or two in this sentence -- I'm making it grammatical but somebody may want to tweak my fix: "The project is certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme as well managed by SGS Qualfor, the world's largest leading verification and certification company." -- 201.19.40.176 00:39, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Junk Science[edit]

User:67.120.51.46 added a vigorous POV section on the 'junk science' of anthropogenic climate change. I removed the section but retained a sentence which links to the CC controversy page. Recording the existence of the opposing viewpoint is very valid for this article's controvosy section (but not the detail), so I felt a brief cross-reference would be useful. Ephebi 13:17, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

critics of global warming[edit]

The article states "A minority in the scientific community disagree with the significance of anthropogenic climate change and so do not hold with the usefulness of offsetting on principle." However, this article isn't on global warming, but on carbon offsets. My understanding of the critics (e.g. Lomborg) is not so much that they deny the phenomenon, but they caution that it is overblown in relation to other problems and that some of the proposals are astronomically expensive. Now, if this is a fair summary of most of the criticism, then that would play into how much carbon emissions should be reduced by, and at what cost; not that it's irrelevant to reduce it. E.g. it would translate into a consideration for how much carbon offsetting it's worth doing. That's not the same, however, as saying that those critics are against "the usefulness of offsetting on principle." --Psm 19:10, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

elasticity of demand[edit]

As long as carbon offsetting is a small activity, the laws of supply and demand dictate that the most economically efficient offsetting methods will be leveraged first. But they won't suffice for anything significant. So an article on carbon offsets should at least mention the notion of price elasticity. Anybody know of any good references on that? --Psm 19:12, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Your comment is a good one. However offsetting on an industrial scale is just one type of carbon credit activity, and it would be more relevant to have a description of elasticity there. Though I note that it isn't described there either 8-( Ephebi 08:57, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Good point, it's relevant there too. But I would really like to find some mainstream references on it, I don't want to be doing OR here. --Psm 20:36, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Guidance on developing a robust offset strategy[edit]

Hi

This article is strong on the science/policy, but doesn't have much in the way of sign-posting guidance for how people should go about offsetting. The UK's Carbon Trust has developed an excellent guide (see http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/carbon/briefing/offsets.htm), and the Sustainable Development Commission have recently updated their website (http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/carbon_neutrality.html). I noticed that the page asks not to post new links, so I thought I'd put this here to see what others think. I'm sure there are other good guides out there.

Thanks,

Oliver —Preceding unsigned comment added by Oliver.knight (talkcontribs) 14:36, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Trees Grow Faster in the Tropics[edit]

This sentence seems suspect.

"Trees grow three times faster in the tropics than in temperate zones; each tree in the rainy tropics removes about 22 kilograms (50 pounds) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.[8]"

The citation is from the webpage of an organization that will take your money and plant trees as an offset. The webpage offers no evidence to support this. More importantly, the source does not directly make the claim. The organization claims that per dollar the organization can plant 5 times as many trees and remove 15 times as much CO2 in the tropics.

Also, I don't think the sentence really adds anything either. I am tempted to remove it. Any objections? Josh 76.102.138.25 (talk) 06:03, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Structural and factual issues[edit]

New here, so getting a feel for how this works. I know a fair amount about offsets (work in a related field), and I can't help notice that there are some pretty basic structural issues with this page. These are just the first that occur to me:

  • Carbon offsets are never defined. The term "carbon offsetting" is defined, but carbon offsets themselves are never defined. There are some very basic features of carbon offsets (such as the fact that they have a "vintage," or date) that simply never get mentioned.
  • The article doesn't really distinguish between the voluntary and compliance offset market. This is an important distinction, particularly as the compliance market is much larger and better developed. The general mixing of statements about the two markets also leads to a lot of somewhat questionable assertions, such as, "carbon offsets generally refer to acts by individuals or companies that are arranged by commercial or not-for-profit carbon-offset providers." This describes only the voluntary market, which, again, is much smaller and arguably less important than the compliance market.
  • The article tends to focus overly much on somewhat shallow "controversies" (the Oscars?) and completely ignores huge controversies, such as the use of HFC-based offsets to satisfy Kyoto obligations. This was a really big deal, but it gets no mention here at all.

So, I'd like to try to fix some of these things, particularly as I think this topic is going to get more important over time. But I thought I'd alert people first. Any questions/comments?

GreenSarah (talk) 22:02, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

  • You are right - though the article on carbon credits is the better place to major on the features of the CDM/compliance market. This article attempts to cover the general theory, which is much more woolly when you address the voluntary sector, IMHO, as it covers the both ideas of industrial & personal offsetting. The lead-in paragraphs here are also not very encyclopedic & could do with a bit of re-focussing. Ephebi (talk) 22:45, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, I'll take a look at the carbon credit article as well, although I'm not sure the credit/offset distinction is all that meaningful. They're used fairly interchangeable, although credit could also refer to allowances. Also, when I mention compliance markets, I'm not really limiting my comment to the CDM. RGGI will incorporate offsets, the WCI will likely incorporate offsets, etc. It's a big topic. I'll start making some edits. GreenSarah (talk) 23:06, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
  • OK, inserted a definition up top, and started to flesh out a clearer distinction between the voluntary and compliance markets (with actual numbers!). The article is still overly focused on trees, which are really a very minor area of project activity. And there's no mention at all of the industry standards under development. And the controversy section is still sort of a hodgepodge of small-picture stuff. I'll take a whack at some of that stuff next. GreenSarah (talk) 16:33, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
  • This has come along a bit further. I reorganized the controversy section so it highlights the issues involved better than it did previously. I also pulled some of the info from the tree-planting section down into the controversy section, and I added a few new controversies. There's still too much about trees in this article. I'm trying to see whether it makes sense to pull some of the stuff into one of the reforestation or treeplanting articles. And there's nothing on offset standards yet. I'll probably take that on next. —Preceding unsigned comment added by GreenSarah (talkcontribs) 21:54, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Moved some of the tree stuff to the treeplanting article, although it could have gone in the LULUCF article as well. I also reorganized it a bit to make more clear that treeplanting is subset of LULUCF, not vice versa.
  • I just noticed that the external links section has been entirely taken over by commercial web sites that rate carbon offset vendors. As a decision has already been made to exclude the vendors themselves, these other commercial services also seem inappropriate. Removing them all.GreenSarah (talk) 22:33, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Self-editing?[edit]

Ummmm. A bunch of very specific changes were just made, all with the result of presenting a single carbon offset retailer in a more flattering light. For example, the following was a brief but factual summary of some of main points of an article critical of offset retailers, in line with the other summaries of similar articles:

An article in the Baltimore Sun criticized retailer Carbonfund for claiming reductions based on tiny donations to large energy projects. For example, Carbonfund contributed $8,000 to an $81-million wind farm in Nebraska. One organization that received money from Carbonfund, the National Arbor Day Foundation, objected to their project being cited as a source of carbon reductions, and denied that trees purchased by Carbonfund had been planted.

The paragraph was changed to this:

An article in the Baltimore Sun criticized retailer Carbonfund for claiming reductions based on tiny donations to large energy projects. Carbonfund's purchase and claim were in fact proportionate, paying for and receiving a share of the project's renewable energy certificates (RECs), not the entire amount, an important element of the carbon offset and REC market goal of pooling resources to support large-scale clean energy investment

There are few things wrong here:

  • The changes are suspiciously selective. There are other changes sprinkled throughout article praising the business model of a specific vendor.
  • The new paragraph is poorly written. I'm not even really sure what it means, but it doesn't seem to relate to the section's focus on lack of regulation in the carbon offset industry.
  • The change presents unsourced assertions as fact.

The changes aren't major, but they do seem to have been made with an agenda. What's the appropriate recourse here? Should I just revert them?

(oops forgot to sign my changes) GreenSarah (talk) 21:03, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

OK, under advice of RyRy5, I kept the changes that seemed factually accurate (for example, I kept the reference to the fact that the Voluntary Carbon Standard includes tree projects), I removed stuff that was either unsourced opinion or just redundant, and I reverted the excisions of factually accurate info after confirming its accuracy in the referenced sources. Hopefully the info sticks this time. GreenSarah (talk) 22:12, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Sarah, there was no agenda other than to correct the facts. I made these edits because the original story in the Baltimore Sun was inaccurate. First, the story acknowledged a senior person had corrected the story that the trees had been planted before print (it is in the story). Second, senior Arbor Day officials also confirmed with reporter that they do in fact quantify carbon in their work, but the reporter did not use it and instead used a quote from an uninformed junior staffer. View ArborDay's relationship with Memorex, which came out at the same time as the Sun story and you can see they absolutely plant trees to offset carbon. http://www.memorexelectronics.com/renew/plant.html The reporter had a POV, I am just correcting it. Removing piece until this is clarified. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.15.63.27 (talk) 01:23, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation. This still seems problematic, though. The question isn't whether the reporter had a POV. All of the other articles cited have POVs as well -- they're critical of the carbon offset industry. The question is do the articles cite credible sources. If you can provide references that make counter-claims, by all means please include them in the entry. Press releases, letters to the editors, that sort of thing. But just declaring that the story is inaccurate doesn't seem to wash. (By the way, I updated the Arbor Day info to indicate that the article gave conflicting accounts of whether the trees had been planted.)

Regarding the offset claim from the project: the situation is somewhat confusing, but it doesn't appear that Arbor Day is involved with offsets in any way. I searched their entire web site, and found no reference to selling carbon offsets. After a lot of googling, I did locate this forum page in which the Arbor Day moderator says:

Our organization is just beginning to address the complex issues surrounding tree planting and carbon sequestration. I can say the Foundation's mission is and will remain focused on tree planting & care, and the celebration of the tree planter's holiday - Arbor Day. The Foundation has always worked to spread the word about the many benefits that trees provide us. Sure trees are able to store carbon, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture.

That's dated October 11, 2007. I also found this, on their global warming FAQ page:

What are carbon credits? Carbon credits are quantified, verified and certified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, typically expressed as metric tons of CO2 equivalents (source: EPA). Calculating carbon credits for planting trees is very complex because of the diversity of tree species and growing conditions. The earth needs many trees, and whether we plant one tree or thousands, each one helps create a healthier planet.

Basically, it seems Arbor Day is aware of offsets, but doesn't sell them. The Memorex announcement does refer to efforts "to help offset the carbon footprint" through a partnership with Arbor Day, which is confusing. But Memorex doesn't make any real claims here. It just talks about how Memorex is planting trees, and trees absorb carbon. It's pretty generic.

Perhaps I'm missing something. If you can provide any program info from Arbor Day, please post it here. GreenSarah (talk) 16:53, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Memorex's announcement and website clearly show they are "help[ing] offset the carbon footprint" by planting trees, and that, according to Arbor Day, "over the course of its lifetime, a single mature tree may remove more than one tone of CO2 from the atmosphere. By planting trees, we are able to help offset the carbon footprint from these products." It's clear Arbor Day is planting trees on behalf of Memorex, not necessarily selling credits, to offset the carbon footprint of these products. Under "products" it shows how many trees per product. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Greencanoe (talkcontribs) 17:21, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Ummm...I'm not sure what to do here. This doesn't seem that complicated. Arbor Day doesn't mention carbon offsets anywhere on their web site, and has made several statements indicating that they don't sell offsets. What am I missing? I understand that the Memorex site confuses the issue, but if Arbor Day sold offsets then it would be pretty easy to tell, wouldn't it? You'd be able to find more info about their offset program than one line on an external web site, right? GreenSarah (talk) 18:57, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

By way of an external opinion: This is a tricky one. I don't think the article cited gives a neutral point of view, therefore without a counter from Carbonfund, it would be unfair to cite only the article itself. In all honesty, this bullet point is somewhat trumped by the one coming before it, and as the section reads something like a list of trivia, I'd argue that we could avoid this discussion by simply axing this point. By the by, the section would read a lot better if the lists were incorporated into the flow of paragraphs. Verisimilus T 20:03, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Point taken. The laundry list is pretty unnecessary in the context of the whole article. And the financial times article provides a decent round-up of issues, so I'll just collapse the whole section. I confess that I'm not really seeing the POV issue. This section is about criticisms of the industry. Criticisms are bound to be, well, critical. But maybe we can sidestep the whole thing. GreenSarah (talk) 20:43, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Great stuff. I've trimmed it a little further to improve the flow. By the way, thought I should congratulate your efforts on this difficult article - barely a check of the watchlist seems to go by without you fighting off more vandalism or bias! Keep it up. Verisimilus T 21:10, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Additionality & Fraud[edit]

I have moved this subsection text here:

  • Fraudulent accounting of offsets

A May 26, 2008 article in The Guardian reported on a study of carbon offsets by Stanford University. The article refers to "the UN's clean development mechanism (CDM), an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations." David Victor, a law professor at the university, was quoted as saying, "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts." Billions wasted on UN climate programme, The Guardian, May 26, 2008

The problem with the above piece is that it is misrepresenting the research. The Stamford research was into applications for CDM funding, not for projects that have actually been approved nor for reductions that have been actually achieved. If, as the newspaper article claims, a project would be undertaken regardless of CDM funding, then the CDM executive board would reject it as failing its additionality criteria. There are no underlying claims that 2/3 of approved projects fail this criteria. This point is already made in the previous section on additionality. Ephebi (talk) 15:23, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

This article is biased against nuclear power[edit]

I noticed that the article mentioned solar power and wind power, but not nuclear power. That is odd, because nuclear power generates far more carbon free energy than wind and solar power combined. So I added some stuff about nuclear power, with sources. But then someone ereased it. That's bias. Grundle2600 (talk) 12:43, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

For the record, here is what I added:


Since the earth has enough uranium to last until the sun blows up in 5 billion years, some scientists consider nuclear power to be a form of renewable energy. [1]

Global Power Usage in Successively Increasing Detail[2][3]
The Vattenfall study found Nuclear, Hydro, and Wind to have far less greenhouse emissions than other sources represented.

The Swedish utility Vattenfall did a study of full life cycle emissions of Nuclear, Hydro, Coal, Gas, Solar Cell, Peat and Wind which the utility uses to produce electricity. The net result of the study was that nuclear power produced 3.3 grams of carbon dioxide per KW-Hr of produced power. This compares to 400 for natural gas and 700 for coal (according to this study). [4]

Claims exist that the problems of nuclear waste do not come anywhere close to approaching the problems of fossil fuel waste.[5][6] A 2004 article from the BBC states: "The World Health Organization (WHO) says 3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions, and 1.6 million indoors through using solid fuel."[7] In the U.S. alone, fossil fuel waste kills 20,000 people each year.[8] A coal power plant releases 100 times as much radiation as a nuclear power plant of the same wattage.[9] It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident.[10] In addition, fossil fuel waste causes global warming, which leads to increased deaths from hurricanes, flooding, and other weather events. The World Nuclear Association provides a comparison of deaths due to accidents among different forms of energy production. In their comparison, deaths per TW-yr of electricity produced from 1970 to 1992 are quoted as 885 for hydropower, 342 for coal, 85 for natural gas, and 8 for nuclear.[11]

Nuclear Power is not eglibale to create carbon offsets under any offsetting scheme and should therefore not come up in an article on offsetting. You can ad this type of information on a more general entry on energy and climate change. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.132.214.48 (talk) 15:20, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

This article is biased against tree farming[edit]

While it's true that trees absorb carbon as they grow, it's also true that dead, decaying trees release that carbon back into the air.

I added this to the article, but someone else took it out. I think it deserves to be included. Grundle2600 (talk) 19:00, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

A May 19, 2008 article in Wired magazine stated, "A tree absorbs roughly 1,500 pounds of CO2 in its first 55 years... Left untouched, it ultimately rots or burns and all that CO2 gets released... A well-managed tree farm acts like a factory for sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, so the most climate-friendly policy is to continually cut down trees and plant new ones... Plant seedlings and harvest them as soon as their powers of carbon sequestration begin to flag, and use the wood to produce only high-quality durable goods like furniture and houses." [12]

I'd say that this article is biased in favor of tree-planting projects, which aren't very well-regarded by practitioners. Wired Magazine isn't a great source for this sort of stuff. Carbon offsets and carbon offset projects are a technical topic. Wired is written for a popular audience and tends to focus on speculative or flashy technology. So far as I know, no credible organization is putting forth wooden furniture as a solution to climate change (or a source of offsets). TinyHelmsman (talk) 12:45, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Tree planting projects have drawn criticism across the board. The section doesn't hinge on wired magazine, it cites David Suzuki, who those knowledgeable in this field know well as arguably the most authoritative or at least "famous" voice on climate change short of Al Gore, and the citation leads to his critique which is argued forcefully and shored up with information. Just for reference (my point of view follows) forestry projects may have a fatal design flaw, which is the requirement that the trees be under stewardship for 100+ years, and their mitigation effects are not defensible unless such oversight (lasting longer than the average human lifespan) is near-certain.
It may well be that defenders of forestry projects with a contrasting opinion should be better represented in this section, but within the field the concerns about tree farming are becoming universal, with Climate Action Reserve, the most respected US standard and the only one singled out in Waxman-Markey, joining many others sharing the same reservations. It's certainly a controversy rather than consensus but it seems like the solution is for those wishing to see more of the counter arguments to add and source them, rather than gut references to the criticism. TobinMarchbanks (talk) 08:11, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

I could add quite a bit of information on forest credits - but have a COI (I´m working part time for an offset supplier & am a researcher in the field). Would appreciate if another author without COI would volunteer to double check any information I put in. (TimS TimS (talk) 14:51, 1 October 2010 (UTC))

Would suggest to add a reference to the VCS guidelines on permanence: "The Voluntary Carbon Standard requires all tree and other land use based projects to set aside a risk adjusted share of the carbon credits they create into a global buffer account. This buffer acts a an insurance to replace issued credits in case individual projects ends up non-permanent."

Source:http://www.v-c-s.org/afl.html (TimS TimS (talk) 08:03, 4 October 2010 (UTC))

Carbon credit merge suggestion[edit]

Carbon offsets and carbon credits are quite different things, and since I see no discussion to warrant the label which is present on the article, I am removing the merge suggestion. Andipi (talk) 13:20, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree strongly, an offset is a security, along the lines of a financial instrument. It's possibly a subsection of carbon credits, but not entirely. In any event they're clearly different though closely related topics, and seeing as how nobody seems to have made a compelling case to the contrary (or said anything at all for two years now) I'm going out on a limb and killing the label. If anyone reinstates it please be persuasive and specific as to why two lengthy articles with dozens of active contributors should be mashed together, and let's see at least a few users that share that view, which the lack of support during intervening two years seems to suggest is not overwhelming.TobinMarchbanks (talk) 08:29, 8 April 2010 (UTC)


The article does not properly differentiate or define carbon offsets and carbon credits. In fact it gives a misleading portrayal that equates carbon credits and carbon offsets. However, they are different stages of the same thing.

Carbon credits are the tradeable instrument that represent an amount of CO2e/GHG removed or prevented from entering the atmosphere. They do not offset or reduce anyones carbon footprint until they are retired (used up). If this were not the case, everyone who touches the carbon credit as it's traded from person to person (on an exchange, etc) could claim a reduced carbon footprint and it would end in severe double counting.

Carbon offsets are the non-tradeable and retired version of a carbon credit. Once a carbon credit is retired, it has the effect of reducing the carbon footprint of the person who had last purchased and retired that carbon credit. Ie, when a carbon credit is retired, it offsets the holder/retirer of that credit, and at that retired point becomes known as a carbon offset. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 134.159.131.34 (talk) 04:45, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm not so sure this is true. These questions of usage can get complicated, because it's not always clear that there is one standard definition of a slightly generic term like "carbon credit." But generally I would say that a carbon offset is in fact a type of carbon credit. Likewise, carbon allowances (which you seem to be referring to) are also a type of carbon credit.
Beyond that, this is definitely wrong: "Carbon offsets are the non-tradeable and retired version of a carbon credit." Carbon offsets are tradeable, and they're referred to as carbon offsets even before they're retired. Carbon offsets do need to be retired if they're used to satisfy obligations under a carbon cap. But the same is true of carbon allowances. Basically, this is not a meaningful distinction.
The defining characteristic of offsets is that they are project-based reductions from activities that aren't covered under a cap. The article does do a reasonable job of explaining this, I think, although maybe it could be made clearer. TinyHelmsman (talk) 13:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Agree with Tiny. This difference should be made clear in the first paragraph, including a link to carbon credit. Could e.g. enter this sentence:
"A carbon offset is a type of carbon credit produced in a place and/or industry not covered by a mandatory cap, typically in a Non-Annex I Country. Mandatory carbon compliance schemes such as the EU ETS allow certain amounts and types of offsets."
(Refering to the Kyoto-Protocol Annex I) & EU ETS restrictions on the use of CERs - would need to double check for the sources.

(TimS TimS (talk) 07:54, 4 October 2010 (UTC))

Controversies[edit]

As of August 28, 2007 there was a pretty large section on controversies with carbon offsets. I am worried these have been deleted due to self editing.mlhwitz (talk) 14:05, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

March 2008 GreenSarah Edits[edit]

I think deleting the specific instances of controversy was probably not the best solution. I like what you have done with the more theoretical approach, but the specific instances of problematic behavior is instructive nonetheless. Your wholesale deletion makes me wonder which of those offset companies you work for.mlhwitz (talk) 18:15, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

These sorts of accusations are pretty bad form. The article is in much stronger shape than it was before, and adding a laundry list of fairly random criticisms about offsets doesn't enhance the entry.
Incidentally, it was CarbonFund.org that was self-editing the entry, removing any negative stories about their offsets, and inserting biased information about their project types. Ironically, you've managed to leave those stories out. Perhaps we should be wondering who you work for? (Joke)
Point being, inserting tangents about specific projects or companies has been a mechanism for abuse in the past, and in any case the article is much better now than it was before. Please respect the decisions that have been made. TinyHelmsman (talk) 22:18, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
The specific instances seem important to me. GreenSarah's user page says she is in the industry, she deleted the content, so I made the inference. I didn't selectively add that content, it was pulled from a much older version of the page. I do not work for the industry (or presently any other industry at all). Specifically, I think the TerraPass content was worth including. Of course, I am biased in that I originally wrote it, but there have been several large scale investigative reports on that incident. In my opinion, nothing in this article adequately addresses that sort of issue(to wit, claiming a preexisting action as an offset). The TerraPass methane project was already in existence at the landfill before TerraPass contributed any offset money and no additional benefit was accrued once TerraPass started paying for it (that is, no benefit to anyone other than TerraPass).
The second thing I really think needs to be highlighted is the disparity between the retail cost of offsets and the amount paid to the offsetting party (for example, the farmers doing methane capture). There are serious dollars being tossed around, but the omitted literature indicates that the middlemen offset companies are pocketing the bulk of money paid.

mlhwitz (talk) 21:32, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

This issue is specifically addressed in the section "Additionality and lack of regulation in the voluntary market" in a way that is more general and informative, and includes links to five primary source articles with further information about the problems described.
Further, the whole question of mentioning specific incidents has been deeply tainted by the fact that carbonfund keeps editing the entry to paint themselves in a more flattering light. Verisimilus addressed the issue above by saying:
By way of an external opinion: This is a tricky one. I don't think the article cited gives a neutral point of view, therefore without a counter from Carbonfund, it would be unfair to cite only the article itself. In all honesty, this bullet point is somewhat trumped by the one coming before it, and as the section reads something like a list of trivia, I'd argue that we could avoid this discussion by simply axing this point.
Personally, I don't 100% agree with this, but I will say that the article is in better shape now than it was, and the edit war has died down. So far reasons of both quality, fairness and consistency, it seems to make sense to apply this standard generally.
If you want to include something about the disparity between retail and wholesale costs, then I'd recommend adding a new section. I'd caution, though, that you're going to have to find a better reference than an industry hit piece that is several years out of date. It doesn't really make sense that middlemen pocket the bulk of money paid -- competitive industries just don't work this way, and I'm pretty certain the offset industry doesn't either. There's always a big disparity between retail and wholesale costs, and that's because selling retail is expensive. TinyHelmsman (talk) 13:50, 1 August 2008 (UTC)


I could offer to bring in some up-to-date information on these issues (especially additionality / verification trade off, bankability, PoAs etc.) + a couple of other edits that are outdated / inaccurate.
Anyway, I have a COI (working in the industry part-time & writing a PhD on forestry carbon payments) - would suggest that I work with another independent author who verifies my contents before publishing (-> as suggested in the COI rules of Wikipedia)

Anybody interested?

TimS TimS (talk) 15:29, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Carbon project merge[edit]

I don't see any discussion of this proposed change, but I'm in favor of it. A carbon project and a carbon offset are closely related concepts, and the material in the two entries is highly redundant. What do other people think? TinyHelmsman (talk) 09:03, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Some people maintain a business perspective and would like to "first" investigate how to start, manage and make money from a carbon project. These people may already know about the concepts around carbon offset. I see benefit (and no harm) in keeping the carbon project page as a referential starting page for these people. Redundant or duplicate material can always be removed. To position these pages accordingly: The carbon offset page can have more technical details, international protocols, etc. whereas the carbon project page can have more business, alternative approaches, examples, finances, etc. excluding any non-business details.Ismailari (talk) 08:13, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Voluntary Market Overhaul[edit]

The section on offset markets overall was woefully thin, and despite my edits remains so, considering the market for trading carbon offsets is one of the handful of defining characteristics of offsets as a topic. It also had unsourced (and false) assertions regarding the voluntary side of the market especially. I have cleaned up, corrected, and provided clear citations for the added information. The only problem now is that my section on the voluntary markets may be disproportionately large. I believe it's about the right size as a quick overview and primer of this sub-topic, which barring a lot more writing isn't ready to be split into an entirely new topic of its own. But if someone would like to do similar work to flesh out the compliance side of the market this section would be comprehensive and well-balanced TobinMarchbanks (talk) 08:18, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Again, I could do that easily but have a COI (see my posting on forestry credits above) - would need a double check from an independent author. (TimS TimS (talk) 14:53, 1 October 2010 (UTC))


I would suggest to adapt to the "State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2010" report by the World Bank. The text is currently based on the 2007 Version, while the article refers to the 2010 version further down (source number 20). => Would make it 8.7 billon tCO2e + 143.7 billon US$. When using the 2009 numbers, it should be mentioned that it has been the year of the VAT fraud, which artificially increased the traded amounts. (TimS TimS (talk) 07:46, 4 October 2010 (UTC))

The section on the voluntary carbon market includes links to an arbitrary list of commercial offset retailers. They should either be deleted or replaced by a link e.g. to "http://www.carboncatalog.org/" which hosts a much more complete list. (TimS TimS (talk) 08:08, 4 October 2010 (UTC))

I have acted on your suggestion. Mrfebruary (talk) 10:18, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Add Maywa Montenegro in Seed (magazine) from August 13, 2009?[edit]

Add Five experts debate if carbon offsetting is the quick, efficient way to decarbonize the global economy, or the loophole that will derail such efforts. by Maywa Montenegro in Seed (magazine) from August 13, 2009? 99.190.91.161 (talk) 06:59, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Reduce Carbon Offsetting[edit]

Would it not be appropriate if there is a section on ways to reduce Carbon Offset in daily activities? For example - Travel Sites such as "http://www.thomascookessentials.com/questions/carbon-offset-reduction.asp" explain the the benefits of trains versus buses? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mattravel (talkcontribs) 08:46, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Naomi Klein potential resource[edit]

http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

“Free-market climate solutions,” as they are called, will be a magnet for speculation, fraud and crony capitalism, as we are already seeing with carbon trading and the use of forests as carbon offsets. And as climate change begins to affect not just the poor but the wealthy as well, we will increasingly look for techno-fixes to turn down the temperature, with massive and unknowable risks.

99.190.86.244 (talk) 09:57, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

This article appeared in the November 28, 2011 edition of The Nation. See Effects of climate change on humans and Effects of global warming in general, geoengineering and Climate change mitigation in general. 97.87.29.188 (talk) 00:23, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Carbon credit, related resource?[edit]

Talk:Carbon credit#resource ... example

99.56.122.24 (talk) 09:05, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Systemic bias?[edit]

I believe the article has systemic bias on these points:

  • It concentrates its criticism in one place, and rebuts the criticisms that are there.
  • It seems to imply offsets are a good thing (there are paragraphs sprinkling it throughout, one that stuck out on me was the "good quality" offset part - what constitutes one?); Wikipedia is not here to spew a viewpoint in either direction.
  • It seems to go to great lengths to tout the benefits of carbon offsets and reads a little bit like an advertising to me.

In addition, I added a criticism section template to the controversies section. That should be integrated with the article anyway, regardless of the outcome of this particular debate.

-- Therealelizacat (talk) 21:20, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Bad reference[edit]

The reference for the statement "Deforestation, particularly in Brazil, Indonesia and parts of Africa, account for about 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions" does not seem to back up that assertion. And even if there were statements to that effect within the webpage cited, its not exactly a reliable primary source. Though after looking through the citation guide, nothing sticks out as the proper way to flag it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nickwbrown (talkcontribs) 18:24, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

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Perverse incentives[edit]

The section "perverse incentives" is badly written. It should be rephrased to reflect that the emission baselines for the various industries need to be revised regularly and often are not due to political pressures. --83.145.195.17 (talk) 10:13, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

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