California’s Cap and Trade Offset System Created A Market for Forest Preservation

Screenshot of video by Brett Carlsen, The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal published an eye-opening piece yesterday by Ryan Dezember (with beautiful photos and video by Brett Carlsen) that describes a burgeoning national market in carbon offset credits created by landowners promising to leave trees on their land standing.  The buyers are “investing” in trees and holding the credits — and it’s not who you might suspect.  One of the biggest carbon credits investors is BP because as “part of its shift into non-fossil-fuel markets, BP expects to trade offset credits the way it presently does oil and gas.”

Why This Matters:  It is hard to read this story with a straight face.  The Journal quotes a managing director in BP’s venture-capital arm saying they want to “grow a new market…BP wants to live in this space.”  After making trillions by destroying the land in order to exploit hydrocarbons that have literally caused the chemistry of the planet to change — which they knew was happening but did nothing to stop — now they are tree-huggers?  Once there is a “market” for conservation, they are all in.  So is a coal company that wanted to diversify.  But if the trees remain standing because these companies are investing in offsets, does it matter who they are and how they got the money to buy them?  So far, thanks to the California program, more than a billion dollars has been paid to woodland owners not to cut down their trees.  And that is what matters.

You can read the article here, or listen to it.  It is worth your time.  

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