Offsetting – the practice of compensating for carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere – is not new. Over the past 30 years, the market allowing organizations and individuals to voluntarily purchase “carbon credits” has grown rapidly. But while there are some well-reputed schemes, the offsetting industry is often criticised for being confusing and lacking in transparency. Failure to regulate it has led to wild price inconsistencies, questionable projects, the risk of double counting and, in the worst instances, fraud. Some argue that offsetting is a flawed approach, simply a licence to continue polluting as usual.
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