Stoking the offset debate

“One of the big challenges in carbon markets is lack of transparency, including where credits come from and whether they are a substitute for corporate climate action,” said Mark Kenber, co-executive director for external affairs at the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative, a U.N.-backed group.


Most corporate pledges to zero out greenhouse gas emissions have one thing in common: Offsets. Paying to plant trees, cap methane wells or fund other green activities can be easier (and cheaper?) than actually reducing pollution, and demand for these emissions offsets is exploding.

So are the questions. In December, shareholder activist group As You Sow took issue with a Williams-Sonoma Inc. plan to buy offsets to compensate for its emissions. As You Sow asked the retailer to describe its offsets and how they’re used.

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