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[GreenYes] Re: Recycle Offset Credits - Benefits of a market

Title: [GreenYes] Re: Recycle Offset Credits - Benefits of a market

Hi all,

I don't know Hamilton, but I certainly like the quote! Of course, we all
should act politically as well as individually. And I certainly don't
mean my critique to feed despair, which kills all positive efforts. I
just think we should be open-eyed and critical about things.

Also, to go back to a point I made earlier, I think that there is an
important difference between voluntary offset credits and offset credits
within a cap-and-trade system. In the latter case, their principal
effect is to raise the cap. But in a situation where there is no cap,
and people are purchasing credits voluntarily, they at least have the
potential to do good. But I wouldn't go farther than "potential". I
think there are still a lot of concerns about voluntary offset credits:
        - how many of the credits are bogus? Evidence I've seen indicates the
proportion is high.
        - when people buy the credits, are they less rigorous about controlling
their own emissions? This could lead to actual overall increases in
        - is the money flowing to credits undermining other, more important
efforts? Tropical rainforest cleared for palm cultivation to make
biodiesel (which gets offset credits) is a good example of severe,
unintended side effects.

I also don't think that criticizing a poor solution is the same as
telling people to ignore the problem and go on with life as usual.
Rather the opposite: offsets are often sold as a magic cure-all solution
(not by anyone on this list, but in the larger discourse), which they
emphatically are not. Only by bursting that bubble can we start
discussing real solutions.

On a lighter note (really!), have you all seen this website?



Curt McNamara wrote:
> I think you would be a fan of J. Drake Hamilton, who is fond of saying
> that we don't have voluntary or individual food safety policy, so why
> should we have voluntary climate policy?
> Won't deny this for a minute! It does turn out to be out of my control
> -- I do what I can politically but also don't let it make me crazy.
> So what are my choices?
> Complain about the state of affairs.
> Work for political change.
> Be a better consumer.
> Make better choices.
> Buy offsets for the rest.
> Educate.
> What I don't do:
> Blame the current crop of politicians or state of affairs and go about
> life as usual.
> There is only so much I (or anyone in the developed world) can do with
> better choices.
> If offsets are criticized then folks think it is OK to ignore that
> option and:
> Continue with life as usual
> Continue to criticize the current state of affairs
> Ignore personal change they can make because: offsets are bad, the
> politicians are holding us hostage.
> See what I mean? In some ways it is equivalent to the "debate" about
> global warming. If the science seems uncertain then it is OK to not do
> anything. If offsets are questionable then we can ignore that as well.
> Note: I am not commenting about anyone on the list! I just continue to
> be astonished that voluntary offsets aren't more prominent and that
> folks continue to pick on them.
>                             Curt
> On Jul 2, 2008, at 3:27 PM, Neil Tangri wrote:
>> To get back to Curt's question, I think this shows the limits of
>> individual action. Even if everyone in the US were as dedicated and
>> conscientious as he is, we still couldn't make reasonable individual
>> choices to bring down our carbon footprint to anything like what is
>> needed to stabilize the climate. Consumer choice, while important, is
>> simply insufficient. We have a system -- a physical infrastructure, an
>> economy and a political system -- that is geared towards
>> unsustainability. We therefore need a collective response to change the
>> system, not only an individual one. Fortunately, we do have a tool that
>> is capable of creating profound, long-term technological and economic
>> system changes: the government. Unfortunately, the government is in the
>> hands of the wrong people. But I honestly don't think that we can hope
>> to address the climate problem without political action.
>> best,
>> Neil
>> Doug Koplow wrote:
>>> Interesting thread.  Couple of additional thoughts.  Caps and carbon
>>> taxes do two other things that I've not seen mentioned:
>>> -First, by creating an economic value on carbon emissions, they create
>>> classes of firms that benefit from those emissions being properly
>>> regulated.  This group of firms serves as a decentralized enforcement
>>> mechanism that can help improve compliance with a centrally-established
>>> cap.
>>> -Second, the price signal doesn't merely move emissions reductions to
>>> where they are cheapest, but also establishes a strong financial
>>> incentive for innovation in the way we do things that emit carbon.  Over
>>> the longer-term, it is this incentive to innovate that offers hope that
>>> whatever cap is set now can be reduced over time, and/or the cost to
>>> comply with any specific cap will decline.
>>> -Neil's point about serious concerns on the tightness of the carbon
>>> system is also true and very important.  Where trading involves
>>> countries that lack even basic government control systems, the risks of
>>> corruption and gaming are quite high.  Even in developed countries, the
>>> initial rules for allocating carbon permits matter immensely.  An
>>> assessment done by Friends of the Earth of existing proposals estimates
>>> that recently proposed climate legislation would have
>>> generated windfalls to selected industries in the hundreds of billions
>>> of dollars (permit auctions would solve this).  Finally, credit systems
>>> have a tough time hitting all sectors of the economy equally.  They can
>>> pick up large industries and power plants, but don't do well on smaller
>>> industries or mobile sources such as the transport sector.  Carbon taxes
>>> have a strong advantage here.  Carbon taxes also offer a great benefit
>>> in being able to reduce more distortionary taxes concurrently, such as
>>> those on labor.
>>> -Also on Neil's point, controlling methane releases from US landfills is
>>> an allowable source of carbon offset on the Chicago Exchange (and also
>>> constitute eligible green power sources under many RPS rules).  In
>>> reality, of course, landfills are a potent GHG emitter, and should be
>>> forced to purchase permits for all emissions.  This would send the
>>> desired price signal to (a) properly control emissions at landfills
>>> without government subsidy; and (b) manage wastes in more
>>> carbon-efficient ways (better recycling perhaps?).  Instead, allowing
>>> credits for the portion of methane they capture rather than let escape
>>> reduces the cost of landfilling relative to recycling, and, according to
>>> Peter Anderson, misses a large portion of the lifecycle methane
>>> emissions from the landfill.
>>> -Doug Koplow
>>> _______________________________
>>> Doug Koplow
>>> Earth Track, Inc.
>>> 2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
>>> Cambridge, MA  02140
>>> Tel:  617/661-4700
>>> Fax: 617/354-0463
>>>           CONFIDENTIAL
>>> This message, and all attachments thereto, is for the designated
>>> recipient
>>> only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private
>>> information.  If you have received it in error, please notify the sender
>>> immediately and delete the original.  Any other use of the email by you
>>> is prohibited.
>>>>>> <daklute@no.address> 6/30/2008 4:56 PM >>>
>>> Neil,
>>> Thanks for this:
>>> Sorry to reply in two emails -- I hit send prematurely. My point is
>>> basically this: carbon credits do nothing to reduce emissions per se,
>>> nor are they designed to. They turn GHG reductions into a form of
>>> currency, which can then be moved around. The idea behind carbon
>>> credits is that whatever emissions reductions are going to be made can
>>> be made more CHEAPLY by bringing a market function into play. But it's
>>> the cap, or other emissions control measures, that actually reduce
>>> emissions.
>>> as your initial post seemed pretty non-responsive.
>>> Yes, credits need caps to be effective. I would agree that
>>> cap-and-trade systems are an insufficient response to the climate
>>> challenge.
>>> But, your attempt to somehow seperate the credits from the cap makes
>>> me wondering just what it is your critiquing.
>>> On 6/30/08, Curt McNamara <mcnam025@no.address> wrote:
>>>> To go back to my argument: How does Curt McNamara, Inc. (or Neil
>>>> Tangri, Inc.) balance our emissions without credits?
>>>> Yes they are imperfect. Yes folks will take advantage of them. Yes I
>>>> can imagine a world where there is something better.
>>>> What we teach our students: there is no perfect company, no perfect
>>>> product. In many ways working for the worst company is the best idea
>>>> because your efforts will have the largest results. "We got here with
>>>> a million little bad decisions, we will get out with a million little
>>>> better decisions."
>>>> As a consumer I can shop around to find credits with the best
>>>> backstory. Every year I can upgrade / change to whoever is doing the
>>>> best job. Today the best companies are third party certified.  They
>>>> are not perfect, yet they are improving and I don't have a better
>>>> answer.
>>>> Curt
>>>> On Jun 30, 2008, at 2:56 PM, Neil Tangri wrote:
>>>>> Hi folks,
>>>>> Thanks for your thoughts. It's good to have a measured conversation
>>>>> about this.
>>>>> On the issue of "increasing":  If the company didn't have access to
>>>>> carbon credits, it would have to reduce its actual emissions
>>>>> further. In effect, the company is increasing its emissions over its
>>>>> cap and then paying for the difference with carbon credits. Carbon
>>>>> credit fans like to argue that it makes no difference: sticking to a
>>>>> cap with or without credits emits the same GHGs. But that is only
>>>>> true if the carbon credit system is airtight (forgive the pun).
>>>>> Experience demonstrates that there are lots of projects generating
>>>>> credits that shouldn't, or in fact have negative consequences for
>>>>> the climate (not to mention other environmental issues).
>>>>> all the best,
>>>>> Neil
>>>>> daklute@no.address wrote:
>>>>>> I disagree also.
>>>>>> Neil's statement: when you accept carbon credit financing, you are
>>>>>> essentially selling your saved emissions to someone else who is
>>>>>> going to
>>>>>> increase their emissions by the same amount.
>>>>>> I work with companies that have developed and live by carbon caps.
>>>>>> They use credits to remain at or under their caps, NOT to "increase"
>>>>>> their emissions.
>>>>>> We know what the carrying-capacity for carbon is projected at.
>>>>>> Decrying off-set credits as a "pyramid scheme" when they are an
>>>>>> intregal part of the efforts to reduce the overall carbon output
>>>>>> seems
>>>>>> short-sighted - at best.
>>>>>> On 6/30/08, Curt McNamara <mcnam025@no.address> wrote:
>>>>>>> I disagree with your assessment. In my case (and my students)
>>>>>>> there is
>>>>>>> nothing practical to do to get us to one earth. The only piece
>>>>>>> left is
>>>>>>> to buy offsets as far as I can tell. Would be glad to hear of other
>>>>>>> approaches!
>>>>>>> Lifestyle summary:
>>>>>>> Eat low on pyramid (vegan or close), local food. Shared housing. All
>>>>>>> practical energy improvements in housing. Pay for green energy
>>>>>>> (wind).
>>>>>>> Bike everywhere. Car miles ~2K/year. Limited air travel (teaching).
>>>>>>> Can get to ~1.75 earths.
>>>>>>> Curt
>>>>>>> On Jun 30, 2008, at 1:06 PM, Neil Tangri wrote:
>>>>>>>> Hi all,
>>>>>>>> Your points about a pyramid scheme and various other flaws in the
>>>>>>>> carbon
>>>>>>>> credit process are important. But there is an even deeper flaw in
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> whole scheme: when you accept carbon credit financing, you are
>>>>>>>> essentially selling your saved emissions to someone else who is
>>>>>>>> going to
>>>>>>>> increase their emissions by the same amount. So it is a trade
>>>>>>>> off: you
>>>>>>>> can avoid emissions (for example, by recycling), or you can get
>>>>>>>> paid
>>>>>>>> for
>>>>>>>> those emissions, and have no net gain to the climate.
>>>>>>>> cheers,
>>>>>>>> Neil
>>>>>>>> retroworks wrote:
>>>>>>>>> I met Paul Roszel in Chicago at the WR3A sponosored Recycling
>>>>>>>>> Today
>>>>>>>>> electronics conference (great turnout by the way).  In my opinion
>>>>>>>>> there may be no better advocate and expert on recycling in North
>>>>>>>>> America than Paul.  What he wants to do with the credits is to
>>>>>>>>> reposition recycling in the environmental discourse.
>>>>>>>>> I spoke frankly with him about the 'greenwashing' potential of
>>>>>>>>> all of
>>>>>>>>> these credits (as Mary Lou Van Deventer aptly describes some of
>>>>>>>>> these
>>>>>>>>> 'campaigns').  I have suspicions that the carbon offset credits
>>>>>>>>> could
>>>>>>>>> be a 'pyramid scheme'... imagine the same gas guzzler being sold
>>>>>>>>> from
>>>>>>>>> company to company, traded every week, each company using it,
>>>>>>>>> registering their footprint while they have it, and then selling
>>>>>>>>> it
>>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>>> the next company, and claiming a greenhouse gas reduction.
>>>>>>>>> That's an
>>>>>>>>> oversimplified exaggeration, but when 99% of companies are not yet
>>>>>>>>> registered, it does seem to me that any company rich enough to
>>>>>>>>> upgrade
>>>>>>>>> their trucks will look greener than any company buying the used
>>>>>>>>> truck...
>>>>>>>>> Anyway, in regards to Recycling Offset Credits, I would trust
>>>>>>>>> RecycleNet to be very open to setting rules on the system which
>>>>>>>>> did
>>>>>>>>> not encourage abuse or greenwashing.   Paul was able to
>>>>>>>>> intelligently
>>>>>>>>> discuss the potential 'poster child fatigue" of environmental
>>>>>>>>> campaigns.  He is capable of discussing even the diminishing
>>>>>>>>> returns
>>>>>>>>> of 'zero waste' (where I have sacreligiously suggested that the
>>>>>>>>> very
>>>>>>>>> last item recycled, like a can from an island or from the bottom
>>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>>> the ocean, will be inefficient and do environmental harm).
>>>>>>>>> RecycleNet's goal is to keep RECYCLING as a relevant activity as
>>>>>>>>> 'green' activities (so labelled - did you know there is a green
>>>>>>>>> credit
>>>>>>>>> card?) gobble up more space on the daily news.
>>>>>>>>> I would encourage RecycleNet to continue with this, because the
>>>>>>>>> current media appetite for consumable environmental headlines is a
>>>>>>>>> given and if he doesn't put Recycling Credits out there, some
>>>>>>>>> other
>>>>>>>>> even less worthy environmental 'issue' could take our place.
>>>>>>>>> As the
>>>>>>>>> Grateful Dead sang, "might as well be me".
>>>>>>>>> On Jun 19, 3:08 pm, Mary Lou Van Deventer <marylou...@no.address>
>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>> marylou...@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
>>>>>>>>>>> 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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