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jlelandg's avatar

What exactly are you doing when you buy carbon credits?

Asked by jlelandg (3536points) June 6th, 2008

I have no idea what this is, and it sounds like a tax made up by Al Gore. If carbon credits are a way to be a good steward of the earth I’m all for it, if its to curb the coin-flip idea of global warming I’m not so excited.

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10 Answers

playthebanjo's avatar

Not sure if we are talking about the same thing but purchasing carbon offsets is sort of (but not completely like) buying indulgences from the church.

The way it works is you figure up your carbon footprint (google carbon footprint calculator) and then go to one of many web sites and give them money to plant trees or some other carbon reducing project. They will tell you how much carbon was offset through your donation.

This means that it becomes okay for someone to live while polluting since he bought his way out of it.

TrenchMouth's avatar

It’s not as cut and dry as “you pollute x amount and so you buy this and now some factory reduces is CO2 output by that amount and all is well.”
From what I can tell, when you purchase something like a TerraPass you are indeed purchasing some CO2 output from places that have an excess for whatever reason (they have figured out how to pollute less or the money they get from the rights to pollute is a greater some then they could have produced with the factors of production that create that pollution). However, a good chunk of that money is also going to fund things like renewable energy research, which is also a good thing.
While buying carbon credits is a great way to help out, matching it up with trying to pollute less is by far the better answer. It will cost you less money as well…

lozza's avatar

Wasting your time and money.

ninechars's avatar

There’s pretty much no accountability for private offset programs; you may be buying nothing at all. You’d be getting more for your money off donating to advocacy groups or people working on direct abatement of emissions.

This BBC article is a good resource:

Yanivi's avatar

Thanks guys, but wrong carbon. I’m not talking about carbon credits as offsets for, like I reduce carbon footprint here, and sell the credits there.

I’m talking about grades of carbon black, a material used in filters, ink, etc. Does anyone know about that?

creativejuices's avatar

you are helping Al Gore pay for his monster of a mansion that he has in Tennessee, the largest one in the state… and the one that pollutes the MOST!

link → article on his power usage being twice that of an average American.

lefteh's avatar

@creativejuices: This has nothing to do with Al Gore. In fact, the idea of carbon credits was formalized in the Kyoto Protocol, which was a result of the Earth Summit in June of 1992 before Gore was even in the White House (we still haven’t ratified this, but that’s a different story). Your claim that any profit from the sale of carbon credits benefits Al Gore is wildly incorrect and misleading. Here is a good list of the biggest carbon offset firms. None of those are owned by Al Gore. I will allow you to do your own research on that. He is the chairman of Generation Investment Management, a firm that focuses on sustainability, but their participation in carbon offsetting is very limited.
You can take your unfounded propaganda elsewhere.

creativejuices's avatar

@lefteh: you handed me my ass on that one! I guess I should stop Fluthering on Ambien , It brings out all of the rightest bullshit that I grew up with. Yes, I was just spouting crap.

mamabeverley's avatar

@creativejuices Not to be mean, but since that snopes on Al Gore wes last updated, he has converted to geothermal heat from a hot springs on his land. Everyone was giving him a hard time about his house when Inconvienent came out. He gave a press conference and said that he had been trying to get “permit” to tap the hot springs and the county/city commission would not let him. Gore even pulled out like 10 years of requests that had been denied. Sure enough, as soon as everyone started asking the commission questions, he got the permit. Now, he sells his left over energy to the electric company.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Stroking your ego.


Indulging your runaway sense of guilt.

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