The column by Melissa Trussell asserted that markets are adapting to include previously ignored environmental factors, as indicated by the emergence of “carbon credits.”
While seemingly a promising development, evidence suggests that carbon-offset benefits are grossly overrated. Aggressive political actions are vital to achieving the timely policy transformation required to prevent the worst impacts of the rapidly escalating climate crisis.
A few reasons explaining the difficulty of this endeavor should be considered:
• New oil-drilling, coal-mining, and fracking continue being permitted, some of it on public lands. Even if proposed moratoriums are adopted to prohibit these activities on federal lands, unless other reforms are passed, federal tax-policies will still subsidize them, at some $20 billion a year.
• Under various state laws, including Georgia’s, energy-producers are guaranteed profits — on all expenditures, including enormous excess costs, regardless of related carbon emissions. These policies not only reward negligence, but they shift cost overruns onto residential customers.
• Though there are increasing options for earning income by protecting carbon-capturing forests intact rather than cutting them, Georgia remains one of the nation’s most ravenous clear-cutting states. Worse yet, a rapidly growing market for Georgia’s timber-industry is wood-pellets, a product created to burn, releasing more carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Georgia’s five pellet plants themselves release about 500 tons of airborne particulates yearly, endangering the health of thousands.
Powerful vested interests thwart market adjustments supporting life-sustaining environmental policy. Georgia voters must be encouraged to demand fundamental reforms and elect officials who can be counted on to deliver them.
Center for a Sustainable Coast