House's $89K in Carbon Offsets Do Virtually Nothing

Environmentalists call payments 'waste of taxpayer money'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2008 3:14 PM CST
A truck delivers trash to a landfill gas utilization facility in Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department joined forces with a local gas company to build the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Whatever the good intentions were, the $89,000 the House of Representatives spent on carbon offsets doesn’t seem to have done much, the Washington Post reports. Most of the money went to fund programs that were going on anyway or had already ended. “It demonstrated why offsets are controversial and possibly pointless,” said one environmental activist. “This is a waste of taxpayer money.”

Carbon offset markets promise to erase the sins of emitters by paying someone else to reduce emissions. But in many cases, the payments are only rewarding good behavior, not causing it. Without some guarantee that more money will curb more emissions, “you know what you’re getting,” said one offset consultant. “You’re getting nothing.”