Carbon offsets: fraud, exaggeration, and poorly run projects

Today, the Christian Science Monitor published a damning, six-part investigation into carbon credits, and concluded that they are a hive of fraud and villainy, calling them "a 'Wild West' market ripe for fraud, exaggeration, and poorly run projects that probably do little to ease global warming."

An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.

They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.

Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.

Buying carbon offsets may ease eco-guilt but not global warming

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