Carbon Offsets Round 2

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In 1988, Applied Energy Services (now AES) planned to build small coal-fired powerplants around the United States, selling the electricity to local utilities. But the CEO of AES, Roger Sant, was concerned about climate change. He approached the Washington, DC based World Resources Institute (WRI) to explore whether AES could do anything to mitigate the climate change impacts of its business model. The result of that consultation was “carbon offsets,” the first of which AES then funded.

Electric utilities in particular quickly and enthusiastically embraced the idea of offsets. They seemed to be an inexpensive way (the first AES project came in at 2 cents/ton!) to respond to growing stakeholder concerns over climate change, and they saw offsets as a way to more cost-effectively comply with potential future climate change policies and regulations. And in fact, the business community has been successful in getting offsets written into most proposed climate legislation at the national and international levels ever since.

Over time, however, many companies moved away from offsets, focusing instead on internal energy efficiency and similar measures. Individuals were slow to purchase offsets for their cars and airline flights. And the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which drove international carbon markets for several years, expired. By 2015 the future role of offsets in mitigating climate change was far from clear.

This Climate Site explores the idea of radically expanding voluntary offset markets, based on the premise that any effort to scale carbon markets should take full advantage of the 30 years of carbon offset experience accumulated during Carbon Offsets Round 1, which extended from 1988 to roughtly 2015.

This Climate Site extracts information from the Climate Web, built to facilitate access to the actionable climate knowledge needed by individuals, companies, and policy-makers for tackling the entire "wicked problem" of climate change. The Climate Web is an open-access knowledgebase based on the work of thousands and experts, and the closest thing to a collective climate intelligence existing today. It organizes a massive amount of information relating to carbon offsets, as you can see via this Roadmap (right click to open it in a separate tab in your browser).

The Climatographers welcome your questions and suggestions regarding this Climate Site and the “Round 1 Findings” we’ve proposed.

Contact us here with your feedback and suggestions, and to discuss how micro-sites could advance your climate change objectives. If you value our work on the Climate Web and micro-sites like this one, sign up to stay informed.

The Climatographers