In "Are Carbon Offsets a Cop-out?" (November 2007), David Roberts is right that comparisons between carbon offsets and indulgences are tired and inaccurate. Carbon offsets are meant only as a last resort, to cover greenhouse-gas emissions that can't be eliminated through energy efficiency, buying renewable energy, and reducing car and plane trips. Going on a low-carbon diet comes first. Offsets that are done right come from verifiable projects that result in real greenhouse-gas reductions, which offer a market-based way to finance new projects that otherwise might not be built.
Center for Resource Solutions
San Francisco, California
Should a wealthy "environmentalist" (insert the name of a famous person from show business, politics, or business) feel less guilty about flying coast-to-coast in a private jet because he purchased offsets? Isn't the objective to reduce the total, not shift the problem? I have grown weary of environmental organizations that tout offsets as a means of gaining favor with their wealthy, "green" financial supporters and rationalizing their destructive lifestyles.
A version of this article appeared in the February 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.