There is lots of furor over the ethics and the efficacy of carbon offsets. Personally, I doubt the validity of many of the offsets; it is a mystery how there can be be so many opportunities to purchase carbon offsets today, yet at the same time, few major programs that are substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When asked, I sometimes suggest people look at purchasing offsets (from certain organizations not these lunatics) like donating money to a worthwhile cause.
Bad advice? Gar Lipow at Gristmill picked up on this story in the Times of London that makes it seem as though offset business is on a slippery slope to slavery :
When David Cameron flew to India to open a JCB factory for a party donor, green-thinking supporters could rest assured that his visit would be carbon neutral. “We are offsetting all our emissions through Climate Care,” the Tory leader wrote on his blog. “As well as planting trees, they also invest in renewable energy projects in the developing world.”
Somewhere in the Indian countryside, a farmer is about to repay Mr Cameron’s debt to the planet. Climate Care’s latest enterprise is to provide “treadle pumps” to poor rural families so they can get water on to their land without using diesel power. The pumps are worked by stepping on pedals. If a peasant treads for two hours a day, it will take at least three years to offset the CO2 from Mr Cameron’s return flight to India.
If nothing else, that paragraph captures the vast income inequality. Let the angst and arguing begin.