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[GreenYes] Re: Recycle Offset Credits?

Title: [GreenYes] Re: Recycle Offset Credits?

Thanks for the excellent explanation, Neil.  Your description of 
Europe's experience with cap-and-trade is what makes me queasy about 
selling carbon credits based on my company's very real landfill 
prevention.  We want to save the Earth, and although we'd love to cash 
in on some idea that would work, one nation-state's coinage isn't 
worth much in the planetary long run.  It could be another financial 
shell game.  That's the reason our attorney, John Moore, asked if our 
manager researching the trading was head of the Greenwashing Department.

On the theme of afforestation, there's an exceptionally fine old book 
about how to reestablish native plant communities, farm without 
plowing, and - incidentally - influence climates regionally.  It's The 
One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu 
Fukuoka, originally published in 1978 and reprinted  in 1992.  I got 
to be at a brown-bag lunch table with the distinguished Mr. Fukuoka in 
1979 or 1980 when he visited California.  He ran a farm in Japan that 
was both an academic demonstration and a working farm, and he passed 
around his snapshot album featuring various wonders, including oranges 
ripening on the tree despite being covered in snow.  His big 
assertion, if I recall correctly, was that large landscapes that had 
been mismanaged and were out of balance and plagued could be restored, 
starting with small but carefully chosen changes that would create a 
cascade of beneficial effects.  His examples included replacing 
nonnative grasses with native grasses - the "straws."  His ideas, 
which he demonstrated convincingly, would be useful in combating 
desertification and other climate-changing impacts.

Let the carefully chosen planting begin.  But let's also carefully 
think through carbon cap-and-trade.

Mary Lou

On Jun 23, 2008, at 11:44 AM, Neil Tangri wrote:

> Hi Curt,
> My response was pretty brief, so let me explain.
> First, there's an important difference between voluntary offsets and
> offsets within a cap-and-trade system. Voluntary offsets, as long as
> they are genuine, should make a real difference. But offsets within a
> cap-and-trade system effectively increase the overall cap. In other
> words, if a company is limited to x tons of CO2 emissions (or
> equivalent) annually, it can increase its emissions over that limit by
> buying offsets from another company that claims to have taken that
> amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere. So if you start a recycling
> program, calculate the CO2 you take out of the atmosphere, and sell
> those credits, a company somewhere else is going to buy those credits
> and increase its CO2 emissions by the same amount. Thus, no net gain.
> In fact, increasing the number of offset credits available tends to
> depress their price (basic supply and demand), and therefore the 
> cost of
> CO2 emissions. That obviously decreases the incentive for companies to
> invest in low- or no-emissions technologies. We've seen this dynamic 
> in
> Europe, where companies (unlike so far in the US) are bound by a
> cap-and-trade system. Rather than investing in lower-carbon
> technologies, they have created a mini-industry of discovering offset
> credits in third world countries. The price of a ton of CO2 is now
> something like 1 Euro (last I read) or $1.50 -- not high enough to 
> make
> any CEO think about switching to lower-carbon technology.
> That's the theory. In practice -- for both voluntary and cap-and-trade
> systems, things are even worse. Because there is no effective policing
> of the market, lots of projects get offset credits which shouldn't --
> either because they were happening anyway, or they don't really
> sequester the carbon that they claim to. When that happens, it
> essentially blows a hole in the cap-and-trade system. The project 
> gets a
> nice sum of money for not doing anything, and the credit purchaser 
> gets
> to increase their CO2 emissions without that CO2 being taken out of 
> the
> atmosphere elsewhere. Plus, there are often additional, unintended
> consequences. In India, the carbon credits available for flaring HFCs
> (used in refrigeration) are so lucrative that it has created 
> incentives
> for manufacturers to make more HFCs and flare them than they otherwise
> would have -- exactly the opposite of the intended effect of offset
> credits. And now tropical rainforest is being cleared for palm oil
> plantations to make biodiesel -- largely because of the push for a
> "carbon-neutral" fuel.
> I agree that we cannot run a zero-carbon economy, and therefore we 
> also
> need to invest in projects that sequester carbon. But I think that
> requires things like large-scale afforestation programs, which can be
> financed by a carbon tax. Trying to let the market fix this problem --
> which is essentially a problem of the global commons -- has so far
> backfired.
> best,
> Neil
> Curt McNamara wrote:
>> I continue to be puzzled by this line of thinking.
>> Background: I teach sustainability. My lifestyle is pretty low carbon
>> -- bike, eat low on the food chain, limited travel, buy used, live 
>> in 
>> shared housing. Still I (and my students) can't get to one earth on
>> the footprint calculators.
>> What to do? I make voluntary contributions to a non-profit
>> organization that invests the money in projects to capture carbon.
>> Mine are all third party certified.
>> The line I heard: do everything you can, then offset the rest.
>> Another way of looking at this comes from (Alex
>> Steffen). "We can't consume our way out of this mess." Translation:
>> make better decisions on daily actions (like zero waste) but also 
>> take
>> action to restore.
>> Since this is a class theme, I am very interested in what all you
>> folks are doing to restore.
>>                                                                                                      Curt
>> On Jun 19, 2008, at 6:03 PM, Neil Tangri wrote:
>>> Rightfully so, in my opinion. I'm not sure where they are planning 
>>> on
>>> selling these carbon credits, but in effect, carbon credits mean 
>>> that
>>> when you avoid emissions through recycling, someone else buys the
>>> credit
>>> and increases their emissions by the same the net
>>> benefit to
>>> the climate is zero. And while Urban Ore's emissions avoidance might
>>> be
>>> real, many others are scams -- which means that the carbon trading
>>> program simply becomes a way of buying one's way out of carbon caps.
>>> The environmental justice groups have come out quite strongly 
>>> against
>>> carbon trading. There's a great book on the topic, very
>>> conversationally
>>> written, available free on PDF here:
>>> cheers,
>>> Neil
>>> Mary Lou Van Deventer wrote:
>>>> At Urban Ore, one of our managers is investigating this carbon-
>>>> offset
>>>> idea for our company.  Our attorney just asked me if the manager is
>>>> head of the Greenwashing Department.  We're kind of ambivalent
>>>> about it.
>>>> Mary Lou Van Deventer
>>>> Urban Ore
>>>> 900 Murray St.
>>>> Berkeley, CA 94710
>>>> marylouvan@no.address
>>>> On Jun 19, 2008, at 12:00 PM, Jewell, Rebecca wrote:
>>>>> SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, Jun 19, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) ----
>>>>> Paul
>>>>> Roszel, Chairman of RecycleNet Corporation (OTCBB: GARM)is pleased
>>>>> to introduce the Recycling Offset Credit (ROCs) program. This
>>>>> program provides a certified measurement system to recognize and
>>>>> reward companies for their recycling efforts. RecycleNet will 
>>>>> issue/
>>>>> award Recycling Offset Credits (ROCs) for each ton of material
>>>>> recycled by participants.
>>>>> As a result of the increased awareness of climate change and 
>>>>> global
>>>>> warming, more and more people have become concerned about 
>>>>> greenhouse
>>>>> gas emissions and are developing strategies to reduce their carbon
>>>>> footprint. Many companies, individuals and institutions have
>>>>> implemented carbon neutral goals.
>>>>> The Recycling Offset Credits (ROCs) program is an effort to 
>>>>> provide
>>>>> a universally recognized standard to measure and certify recycling
>>>>> efforts and to demonstrate the economic impact of the recycling
>>>>> industry. Recycling Offset Credits (ROCs) may be used to calculate
>>>>> an equivalent offset of your carbon footprint.
>>>>> RecycleNet Corporation invites any company, institution or
>>>>> organization to participate in the voluntary ROCs program by
>>>>> reporting materials recycled. There is no fee to participate and 
>>>>> the
>>>>> program is open and applicable to anyone in all stages of the
>>>>> recycling/reverse distribution supply chain.
>>>>> For more information and to participate in the Recycling Offset
>>>>> Credits program please visit
>>>>> About RecycleNet
>>>>> RecycleNet operates The Online Secondary Commodities Exchange.
>>>>> Founded in 1995, RecycleNet created a powerful platform to
>>>>> facilitate the international trade of secondary commodities.
>>>>> RecycleNet Corporation enables trade on a local, national and
>>>>> international basis with customized sites locating markets around
>>>>> the world in many different commodities. On any given day, there 
>>>>> are
>>>>> in excess of $200 million in new items listed within our 
>>>>> exchanges.
>>>>> Rebecca Jewell
>>>>> Recycling Programs Manager
>>>>> Davis Street Station for Material Recycling & Transfer
>>>>> A Waste Management company
>>>>> 510-563-4214
>>>>> Fun Fact: Waste Management recycled more than 5 million tons of
>>>>> commodities last year; preventing the release of more than 3.4
>>>>> million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
> >

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