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The carbon neutral myth: offset indulgences for your climate sins

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K. Smith
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This report from Carbon Trade Watch argues that carbon offsets are actually indulgences sold to an increasingly environmentally aware public to allow us to continue our polluting activities with a clear conscience.But below the surface, the report concludes that creative accountancy and complex games cover up the fact that verifying genuine climate change benefits is practically impossible. Key points made are that:offset companies are selling a false ‘peace of mind’ to consumers, and that this breeds complacencysome big polluters are using offsets as a cheap form of greenwash, as a distraction from their unsustainable practices and refusal to take more serious action on climate changeour knowledge of the carbon cycle is so limited that it is impossible to say whether plantations even have even a net positive benefit in terms of mitigating climate changeprojects that look great on the website or in the leaflet are often mismanaged or detrimental to the local communities who have to endure themthe media and certain celebrities have been complicit in promoting an analysis of climate change that puts all the focus on individual lifestyles and draws attention from the wider, systemic changes that need to be made in our societies and economiesthe authors insist that promoting more effective and empowering approaches involves moving away from the marketing gimmicks, technological quick fixes, and the North/South exploitation that the carbon offsets industry embodies.