Gaming the Ecosystem
I saw this article by Jeffery Ball in the WSJ this morning. I’d suggest you go read the whole thing, since it’s a good overview of the games companies are playing around carbon credits. This is what cap-and-trade is going to get us once it starts to take effect. Here’s the simple explanation:
Facing impending government orders to help curb climate change, energy-intensive companies argue that if they help prevent a forest from being destroyed, they will be keeping carbon dioxide out of the air. So they are proposing that they pay forest owners to keep their trees alive, and in exchange they receive carbon credits that reduce their obligation to make costlier emission cuts at their own factories.
So you can claim credit by saving something? Or you can get credit by doing something that’s already been done…
Preserving forests is just one tactic raising concern that the campaign against climate change is being gamed. Landfills across the U.S. are selling carbon credits — essentially rights to pollute — in exchange for capturing a greenhouse gas produced by their rotting trash, even though many landfills installed the gas-capture systems years ago.
So we’ve known all of this. The system is being gamed. I noticed near the end of the article this little gem…
A [Gulfstream] G5 burns 2,322 pounds of fuel, emitting about 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide, in an hour of typical flying. Compensating for that requires protecting about 740 square feet of Truckee forest from the buzz saw for a century.
Ah. So it’s a time game as well. I need to see 100 years of trees around to protect me from some celebrity’s private plane for an HOUR. This is truly a game that’s going to create a trading system of nothing. At least with the stock market, you get a share of a company. Here, you get a share of a promise, and no impetus to actually work on cleaning up your own systems.
I don’t like to see businesses restricted, but I like less to see one game the system without adding any value.