Home News Much-criticized climate tool ‘carbon offsets’ gets federal guidelines

Much-criticized climate tool ‘carbon offsets’ gets federal guidelines


The Biden administration on Tuesday laid out for the first time a set of broad government guidelines on the use of carbon offsets, seeking to boost confidence in an approach to combating global warming that has faced growing criticism.

Companies and individuals Last year, it spent $1.7 billion Voluntary purchases of carbon offsets are designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by funding other projects, such as reforestation, to offset the climate impact of activities such as air travel, but none of this will happen without additional funding.

However, more and more study and Report Discover many carbon offsets Doesn’t work at allSome offsets help finance wind or solar projects that might otherwise have been built. And it is often extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of offsets designed to protect forests.

As a result, some scientists and researchers believe that carbon offsets are irreparably flawed. Should be completely abandonedInstead, they say, companies should focus only on reducing their own emissions directly.

The Biden administration is now weighing in on the debate, saying that as long as there are guardrails, offsets can sometimes be an important tool to help businesses and others reduce emissions. New federal guidelines seek to define “high-integrity” offsets as those that achieve actual and quantifiable emissions reductions that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.

“Voluntary carbon markets can help unleash the power of private markets to reduce emissions, but this can only happen if we address significant existing challenges,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. She is scheduled to discuss the guidelines with other administration officials in Washington on Tuesday.

“The principles released today are an important step towards building a high-integrity voluntary carbon market,” she said.

New federal guidelines also urge companies to first try to reduce emissions in their own supply chains as much as possible before buying carbon offsets. Complained It is too difficult to control their vast network of external suppliers, so they should be allowed to use carbon offsets to account for the pollution caused by, say, the cement or steel they use.

While the new federal guidelines are neither binding nor enforceable, supporters of voluntary carbon markets say they can help foster a truly effective market for high-quality offsets. In addition, there are several private efforts, such as Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Committeetrying to develop principles for effective carbon offsets.

“There are credible estimates that the voluntary carbon market could grow to 10 or 20 times its current size, at which point you’d be talking about real money to fight climate change,” said Nat Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, an environmental group that supports the use of carbon offsets. “But we can’t get to that scale unless buyers have confidence in what they’re buying.”

However, critics of carbon offsets say the new federal guidelines are too vague and don’t adequately spell out what types of projects count as high-quality projects. Critics also say that if the government doesn’t strictly enforce the voluntary carbon market, then there will still be A large number of cheap, ineffective offsets Rumor has it that businesses can continue to buy without consequence.

“If the government doesn’t do something to get to the bottom of the market through enforcement, I don’t think low-quality credit is going to go away,” said Danny Cullenward, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleiman Center for Energy Policy Studies.

In California, some lawmakers Introduced a bill The bill, which would penalize companies that sell carbon offsets that are unlikely to be “quantifiable” or “real,” has been opposed by business groups and even some environmentalists who say it could cut off funding for protecting forests and other natural lands.

Biden administration officials say offsets could also help direct investment to poorer countries that have trouble raising money to fight climate change. While President Biden has pledged more than $11 billion in climate aid to developing countries each year, Congress has Only a small portion of them were approved.

John Podesta, Biden’s senior adviser on international climate policy, said that to combat climate change “we need to mobilize massive amounts of private capital.” He said voluntary carbon markets could “support the deployment of clean energy in developing countries, which stand to benefit most from new investments.”

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