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Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade: The Trouble with Offsets

This is a joint post with Matt Hoffman.

Carbon offsets -- granting rights to emit greenhouse gases beyond a stated ceiling in exchange for contributions to cutting emissions elsewhere -- are an important part of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress. Offsets have plenty of appeal, but in practice they have a poor track record. And there are less risky, lower cost ways to achieve similar goals.

Protectionist Snares Along the Road to Copenhagen

Countries importing Chinese goods should be responsible for the heat-trapping gases released during manufacturing, a top Chinese official said yesterday…. "As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy. We produce products, and these products are consumed by other countries.... This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, but not the producers."

-Associated Press, March 17, 2009