Cost of Saving the Climate Meets Real-World Hurdles
By David A. Fahrenthold and Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff WritersThursday, August 16, 2007; Page A01
On the Internet, erasing your role in climate change seems as easy as ordering a DVD -- and cheaper than a cup of coffee a day.
With a click, a credit card and $99, visitors can pay a Silver Spring nonprofit group, Carbonfund.org, to "offset" a year's worth of greenhouse-gas emissions. Whatever the customer put into the atmosphere -- by flying, driving, using electricity -- the site promises to cancel out, by funding projects that reduce pollutants.
Sites such as this one, offering absolution from the modern nag of climate guilt, have created a $55 million industry that once would have been beyond the greenest of imaginations. The market for "voluntary carbon offsets" now encompasses dozens of sellers and thousands of buyers, including individuals and corporations.
But in some cases, these customers may be buying good feelings and little else....
Critics say that offset sellers usually have good motives. But the market is confusing enough that, this month, the Federal Trade Commission said it would look into whether consumers are being adequately protected.
"It's just like the Wild West," said Frank O'Donnell of the group Clean Air Watch. "There are no controls, no standards."
(the full story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/15/AR2007081502432.html?hpid=topnews )