Carbon offsetting

I’m off to Nice on vacation for two weeks, starting tomorrow — back on May 25th. See ya then!

In the meantime, and appropriately enough given that jet fuel I’ll be consuming, here’s some interesting stuff from my mate Eoin on carbon offsetting…

‘It’s a fecking minefield to figure out. There are many conflicting standards, some of which sound impressive but are useless in reality.

Steer clear of tree planting, especially outside Europe; even a well-run forestry in Europe will take decades to make any difference.

The best quality-mark appears to be the CDM Gold Standard. The Gold Standard is a recent introduction, a response to the weak, conflicting Kyoto standards and many ad hoc government ones. Gold Standard specifically excludes tree plantatations.

The following operators are the only ones I found that are Gold Standarded and also pass the bullshit smell test (which is far more stringent ;-) thanks to all who supplied links etc. — eoin

  • My Climate — Seem good. run out of Switzerland. Professional vibe. Mainly projects in the developing world.
  • Atmosfair — like the swiss one except smaller and German. Again, seems professional, their projects page in particular reads well. Doing a German schools project as well as developing world ones.
  • Climate Friendly — Aussies. Mainly wind power, in Oz & NZ. Again seem good, have been around for a few years. Website is decent if a bit all over the place.
  • Sustainable Travel International — more an eco-holidays travel agent than offsetting per se. Useful bookmark.
  • — These guys seem good. Interesting business model. They buy high quality carbon credits, from mainly Gold Standard providers, and retire these credits. Permanent retirement, I think, though this wasn’t 100% clear on their site. So they both support the providers directly by doing business with them, and also jack up the market price by reducing supply. This supply choke isn’t something that the rest of them do, at first glance anyway. Clever idea. As the market price gets higher it will put pressure on companies to reduce their emissions, not just buy their way out of it.’

Now it’s worth noting that this is the state of play as of May 2007; it’ll definitely change pretty quickly as time goes on. Good info, though.

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  1. Posted May 10, 2007 at 20:45 | Permalink

    Hmm, technically, any purchase of carbon credits is the same, economically, as “retiring” the credits. Since they’re buying the credits on your behalf (because you paid them money to buy the credit), they can’t do anything other than “retire” the credit, or they’d be breaching their contract with you. You’re having them buy the credit to offset your plane travel. If they then resold that credit, then the net would be to have taken your money in exchange for nothing.

  2. Posted May 14, 2007 at 04:16 | Permalink

    Just take the boat and leave your guilty feelings at the pier.

  3. Mr T
    Posted May 15, 2007 at 16:50 | Permalink

    With regards to the “retirement” question, I may be wrong but I don’t think there’s any obligation on a carbon trading company to “retire” the credit. They are entitled to sell them on if they wish. It’s an open market.

    PURE do appear to go beyond this and permanently cancel the credit, by holding it in trust and never selling it.

  4. Posted May 15, 2007 at 17:10 | Permalink

    Uh, how can they sell them on? Don’t you own them, and they’re just holding them? If not, then wtf are you paying them for? If you’ll pay someone to buy something for you, and then let them sell it without paying you back, I have a stock purchase proposal for you :)

  5. Mr T
    Posted May 15, 2007 at 17:38 | Permalink

    No, you’ve made a donation to them, that’s all. You don’t own anything. You don’t get granted a formal share certificate or anything . You have made a donation to them and with that donation they will trade on the carbon market.

    In that last link I posted, they spell out the difference

    “We buy the credits and won’t sell them on at a higher price to get the money to invest in other projects – we buy the emission reductions and cancel them,” Jed Jones from the UK Climate Change Projects Office, a trustee of Pure, told edie.

  6. Posted May 15, 2007 at 17:54 | Permalink

    Jeez. I want me some of that action. Who wants to donate money to me so I can trade in the financial markets on my own behalf?

  7. Posted May 18, 2007 at 13:39 | Permalink


    Thanks for the information it’s very helpful. I’ve been trying to read up about carbon offsetting and find good projects to include on my site, but like you say it’s a minefield! It’s good to know about the Gold Standard too.

    Thanks, Tom