Having written a number of blog entries about carbon offsetting around a year ago, I’ve been watching the mounting debate over them with some interest. While I appreciate much of what George Monbiot has to say, I wasn’t impressed with his claim that carbon offsets are ‘the new indulgences.’ The emotive rhetoric masked a real issue of how we can ensure that measures to combat climate change are fair to the poor, and don’t simply let the rich buy our way out of obligations.
Today I spotted a story on the BBC website about the testimony of Jutta Kill (of the Forests and the European Union Resource Network) before a committee of British MPs investigating carbon offsets.
The first thing that struck me was that while the story is labelled as being about offsets in general, it appears the testimony was directed purely at those which are based on planting trees. Not all offset schemes work that way, and those we chose to support are focussed on building an infrastructure, through investment in clean energy, to help reduce future emissions.
Similarly, not all such schemes are selling themselves as a complete solution to global warming. There are those who would like to do themselves out of a job, by showing us how much carbon we’re generating and so focus our minds on reducing that. And for those of us who are in a life situation where we’re unlikely to ever be able to shake the transatlantic flying habit, it’s good to know that we can at least offer something back to the environment.