The New York Times Admits Green Carbon Offset Credits Don’t Work: “Too Good to Be True”

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The New York Times acknowledged this week that green carbon offset credits don’t work, and while they “could eventually play an important role in fighting climate change,” offsets are currently “too good-looking.” to be true”.

In an article published on Wednesday, Times climate reporter Maggie Astor reported that carbon offsets, widely used by airlines and other companies seeking to meet environmental targets of reducing net carbon emissions, often fell far short. to achieve the promised benefits.

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“Carbon offset programs have become ubiquitous. You’ve probably seen them as checkbox options when booking flights: click here to upgrade to a premium seat. Click here to cancel your greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse,” Astor wrote.

“It’s an attractive proposition – the promise that, for a trivial sum of money, you can go about your business without climate guilt. But if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because, at least for the ‘moment, it is’ she added.

Astor noted that the purpose of these programs is to offset emissions emitted, such as those from passenger planes, by funding actions that reduce or eliminate carbon, such as planting trees.

She quoted a Columbia Business School professor who argued that people who enjoy buying carbon credits should continue to do so, but shouldn’t “have the illusion that for every credit you buy, that absolutely reduces emissions by an equal amount by 100%. “

“Many offset projects don’t even come close to 100% of the benefits they promise,” Astor wrote, before referencing several studies showing that carbon offset programs “overestimated” their reductions, “were unlikely achieve their reduction targets”, or were unable to measure accurately.

A plane is seen taking off from a runway.

A plane is seen taking off from a runway.
(Stock)

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She wrote that some projects could fail ‘because of climate change itself’, noting that 150,000 acres of California forest set aside under the state’s carbon offset program had been destroyed by wildfires. .

“The biggest problems are structural, related to what is called additionality,” Astor wrote.

“A carbon offset should fund reductions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. If you’re paying someone to preserve a grove, but they never planned to cut it, then you’re not offsetting your emissions,” he said. she added. “And it is difficult to establish the facts in these cases with the level of confidence required for offset programs to work.”

Astor reported that “the allure of carbon offsets” is that people can continue to live their lives the same way they always have while tackling climate change, but some experts have argued that such an approach helped people “to avoid reducing emissions at the source”.

“The kinds of offset-related programs are, in and of themselves, useful and even essential to mitigating the damage already done by decades of greenhouse gas emissions; the sticky part is using them to justify more shows,” she wrote.

“Even if we could accurately calculate how much carbon a new grove of trees would absorb, tying planting it to releasing more carbon would only keep levels stable, and we need them to come down,” she added.

From left, Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, speaks with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, onstage after the Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

From left, Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, speaks with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, onstage after the Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Astor argued that for offset programs to be effective, they needed to be designed and administered differently than they are now, and that consumers should pay more than the amount they currently pay per tonne of carbon dioxide. .

“For now, the best thing an individual can do is what it always has been: try to emit less,” she wrote.

Carbon offsets have been widely supported by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but used heavily by left-leaning Democrats. Last year, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to incentivize carbon offsets.

Progressive Democrats Sense. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spent nearly $60,000 combined on travel compensation during their 2020 presidential campaigns.

Maria D. Ervin