Environment

Carbon Offsets Ease Guilt, Not Emissions

| by Heritage Foundation

By Conn Carroll

The New York Times reports today:

In 2002 Responsible Travel became one of the first travel companies to offer customers the option of buying so-called carbon offsets to counter the planet-warming emissions generated by their airline flights.

But last month Responsible Travel canceled the program, saying that while it might help travelers feel virtuous, it was not helping to reduce global emissions. In fact, company officials said, it might even encourage some people to travel or consume more.

“The carbon offset has become this magic pill, a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card,” Justin Francis, the managing director of Responsible Travel, one of the world’s largest green travel companies to embrace environmental sustainability, said in an interview. “It’s seductive to the consumer who says, ‘It’s $4 and I’m carbon-neutral, so I can fly all I want.’ ”

Unfortunately Washington D.C. is lagging far behind the private sector when it comes to acknowledging just how fraudulent carbon offsets are. The Waxman-Markey cap and trade energy tax bill allows for companies to exceed their carbon cap requirements by purchasing two billion tons of carbon offsets; one billion tons for international allocation and one billion tons in the U.S. itself.

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The NYT does a decent job of detailing why carbon offset programs are completely fraudulent, but the utter uselessness of Waxman-Markey does not end there. Not only does the bill create a huge offset loophole, but it also gives away more than 100% of the carbon allowances necessary for the U.S. to meet the bill’s stated carbon reduction targets.

Even with all of these allowance over issuances and offset loopholes, Waxman-Markey still would do nothing to change world temperatures. Climatologist Chip Knappenberger crunched the numbers and found that even the strictest version of Waxman-Markey would reduce projected global temperatures by just 0.044ºC by 2050. That is less than one-tenth of one degree.

And then there are the costs of Waxman-Markey: $3,000 per year for an average family-of-four almost , 2.5 million net job losses by 2035, and a cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) loss of $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2035.