Carbon Credits: The Thread!

I find the concept of carbon credits interesting, and I thought it would be nice to start a new thread on the topic, to allow the other thread to concentrate more heavily on admonishing Al Gore for not living in a cave.

Carbon credits seem to be conceptually sound. At first I worried about what happened when all the “low lying fruits” were taken. But, given the state of environmental regulations in much of the world, plucking those fruits alone could probably last us a long time. Then I began to think about how long a credit could “last.” Namely, if my Carbon Credit Company installs a chimney scrubber, can I sell people that offset forever? Probably not: it seems reasonable that, had I not installed that scrubber, local pressure would have eventually forced the factory owner to pay for it.

But what if, due to local political structures, this isn’t true? Then it would seem you really could create a long-term environmental benefit just by installing a scrubber. Additionally, the more poor factories you make “green,” the easier it will become for the local government to pass a rule mandating that all factories become green. By reducing the size of the group that would be negatively effected, you reduce compliance cost, and weaken the political power of the non-green factory owners.

The biggest problem I see with using carbon credit markets as a way to deal with environmental problems is the usual problems with businesses of these types: verification and efficiency. How “scam-proof” are these outfits?

My understanding is that it’s somewhat difficult for a company to disguise or cover up air pollutant emission levels. I mean the shit is belched out everywhere, and you can’t exactly bottle it and sneak it off into a nearby swamp. On the other hand, government fucks up pretty much 95% of what it gets involved with.

Actually you hint in your post as to why they have serious problems: for a carbon credit to mean ‘something’ they must be the cause of ( a pro-rated portion ) the decision that someone else took to reduce their carbon emissions.

As always it is very difficult to determine intent/causation for a decision.

The market is great at handling somethings. It is useless at handling externalities. Regulation is, currently, our best bet at handing externalities.

Acid rain emissions cap and trade worked out stupendously well. The only issues I see are international enforcement problems and getting the greenhouse effect estimation per unit of whatever technically right.

Can someone start insulting each other’s mothers, or maybe find some hypocrisy buried in subsection D rule 1 of the proposed delta rules? Otherwise this is going to be one short thread.

Hey McCullough you’re not driving a hybrid YOU FUCKIN HYPOCRITE.

I fuel my 350Z with my distilled hatred of Dick Cheney oooooooh so I’m carbon negative bitch

Carbon credits (and other pollution credit systems) are a form of regulation that creates a market out of the externality, so I’m not clear on what your point is.

Oy I have no idea why I am feeding the troll. The point is in the 1st sentence.

I think your forgetting the “regulation” part of Carbon trading.

I don’t know anything about the history of any acid rain emissions trading. I will say that implementing a successful system for CO2 would likely be MUCH harder. Acid rain, IIUC, is mainly a national/regional problem, rather well understood, with a limited number of variables. You basically measure it at the smokestack level, and can see it’s effect for a few hundred miles downwind (I’m guessing). So determining who is emitting, and whether they’ve increased/decreased emissions is comparitively easy. And because of the limited range of the problem, the number of countries involved in a political solution for a particular area is relatively small.

For CO2, while the emissions side is fairly well understood, a lot of the secondary impacts are less understood (things like the effects of reforestation, etc.) And the problem is global. If Germany emits CO2, it affects not just Germany and her immediate neighbors, but the whole world.

There’s two levels of carbon credits to look at:

  1. As they are currently implemented (various entrepreneurial companies, with, apparently, little regulatory oversight).

  2. As they might be envisioned in a global treaty framework - some sort of super-Kyoto.

The problem with #1 is that there is little way to guarantee that the emissions reductions/trading is real. In the worst case, a cheater can simply print up CO2 credits and sell them to whoever wants them. Most in the biz will presumably take some measures to indicate that their reductions are genuine, but as the NYT article indicates, it’s not clear that they really are producing net long term reductions (the example of the CF light bulbs given out by the one company, that became semi-moot soon after when the government gave out CF light bulbs on a wider scale).

With #2, I assume there would be more effort put into verification, and some hopefully solid regulations behind it. Most economists seem to support some trading regime, though you still have to be careful, as there is an incentive for cheating at a national scale. Turkmenistan could claim reductions, sell the credits for cash, but not actually implement the reductions. The ability of international bodies to monitor these things might be limited by uncooperative national governments.

Newsweek calls it “The Carbon Folly.”

What else you got Gore?

Since we’re already in debt for Billions thanks to the War Machine, the Government might as well cut the crap with Carbon Credits. Just pay for updating all old machinery to bring it up to snuff and call it done already. Maybe add it to their tax bill and finance it for them so that they hAVE to update.

Carbon Credits are bullshit and is just yet another loophole for not spending the money updating and repairing their shit.