The popularity of carbon offsets has been growing, with companies selling these credits claiming to allow individuals and organizations in wealthy countries to combat climate change. These credits are purchased from projects that sequester carbon, such as tree planting or investing in renewable energy. However, concerns have been raised that offsetting is not an effective solution to the climate crisis and may be little more than a “sugar hit for the conscience.” To understand the reality of buying a carbon credit, economists followed the journey of a credit purchased by Al Dix, a retiree from Yorkshire, England, who wanted to take climate action. Dix pays $15 per month to Ecologi, a startup that offsets carbon emissions. Each month, Dix receives a statement detailing where his payments have been spent, often in the Global South. In January and February, he planted eight trees and offset 0.75 metric tons of CO2. The voluntary carbon market (VCM), where offsets are traded, is expected to hit $50 billion by 2030 and grow 100-fold by 2050. Ecologi, described as the “Spotify of sustainability,” has experienced significant growth in annual revenue. However, recent revelations have undermined the credibility of carbon offset schemes, casting doubt on their effectiveness. Investigations have shown that a significant percentage of rainforest carbon credits claimed reductions in deforestation that did not actually exist. As carbon trading becomes a centerpiece of global emissions mitigation efforts, it is crucial for consumers to understand what they are truly getting when buying offsets. Al Dix, who desires transparency, chose to offset with Ecologi due to its clear impact and openness about offsetting limitations. However, he remains skeptical about the overall effectiveness of offsetting. To track the journey of a carbon credit, the economists followed Dix’s offset to a project in Kenya. A company called Carbon Zero Kenya distributed cooking stoves to villagers, reducing wood consumption and therefore emissions. Carbon credits representing these emissions reductions were sold to offset brokers like Ecologi. However, it remains unclear how the project accounted for other emissions sources, such as the manufacturing and shipping of the stoves. Carbon credits produced from projects like this must pass through certification processes, such as those conducted by the Gold Standard Foundation in Geneva. These certifications provide credibility, but questions remain about the robustness and accountability of the certification system. Overall, the journey of a carbon credit highlights the complexities and uncertainties associated with offsetting and the need for greater scrutiny and transparency in this market.
“According to an official source, the US EPA shows no worry over the possibility of renewable diesel exceeding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates.”
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently not concerned about the recent increase in supply of biomass-based diesel, which...