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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Carbon tradeoff QUESTION

There's been a lot of debate about this plan to allow industrial nations to "sell" their carbon emission quotas under international agreements to developing countries. The upside to the developing countries is that they get money, and the upside to the developed countries is that they recognize the real cost of polluting. Similar plans are available to individuals as well.

I don't know. Somehow, it feels like selling indulgences, which did (or did not) happen in the Catholic Church. In fact, that's exactly what this article suggests.

In this country, you may remember when gas was first $3 per gallon, after Hurricane Katrina, and there was a great hue and cry. I do recall, though, that some people decided to change their lifestyles and start walking or taking the bike or public transportation. Then the prices went down, and most, though not all, heaved a "problem over" sigh. Now gas is back around $3, and what do I hear? Lots of people saying, "When gas gets to $4, we may have to make some changes." Arrgh!!

Yet, some argue, carbon offsets are better than doing nothing.

Would you folks kindly explain your thoughts on this?
***
I'm also wondering, those of you in the Bay Area (San Francisco/Oakland), whether you think the large fire that wrecked some highways there recently will get more people on the BART, perhaps permanently, which will lessen the demand for gas and perhaps drive down the price of gas, if only a little?

ROG

2 comments:

Jaquandor said...

I agree that the whole "carbon offsets" idea is no solution to the global warming problem, but I've never heard it framed as such -- it's more of a "something we can do now" thing, while we (hopefully) develop new and better (i.e., less pollutive) energy alternatives.

The analogy to the selling of indulgences is clever, but this is actual investment, as opposed to lining the pockets of a set of clergy in the name of some nebulous concept of 'sin'. To me it's preferable to cases I've read about where companies choose to pay the punitive fines for polluting because they know they can afford it.

Will said...

I admit that the KP and the "Carbon offsets" have issues that can be viewed positively or negatively. Not always right along political or environmental party lines, either. Sometimes I look at it and think "more of the same old, same old. One thing that really bugs me I wrote about in a short piece on my site that Roger commented on. http://willtaft.com/environment/does-the-kyoto-protocol-need-a-revision/#comment-673

There appears to be no incentive in place to encourage countries with intact old growth or tropical forests to prevent deforestation in the future. We allow countries that have deforested large areas of their land to play the credit game advantageously. We should do more than that for the countries that have avoided deforestation to this point.