"Last month former carbon market watchdog Andrew MacIntosh blew the whistle on
Australia’s carbon offset market. He described the scheme as a “rort” with up
to 80% of carbon offsets “markedly low in integrity”.
While these allegations reignited debate over carbon offsets, the issues are
not new. Integrity issues have plagued carbon trading schemes and offsets since
they first emerged in the mid 1990s.
You might think this is a fairly major bug. In fact, it’s a feature. Polluting
industries want low-cost compliance with climate laws – and poor quality
offsets satisfy this demand. The key phrase there is “low cost”. That’s the
reason free-market economists championed this kind of flexible compliance over
direct regulation in the first place.
For polluters, it’s an easy win: buy offsets, appear to have done something,
and keep on polluting. But bad quality offsets can actually make climate change
Who loses? The rest of us. Questionable offsets and flexible compliance have
slowed down the shift away from oil, gas and coal.
So should we abandon offsets entirely? Or do they have a place?"
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics