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Carbon Retirement — you read it here first (or maybe second).

I don’t normally endorse individual companies. But I have long thought European allowances were the best alternative to offsets and am delighted someone has made a business out of it.

The business opportunity is clear — offsets suck. At a policy level, they can destroy the environmental value of climate legislation.

At a personal level, lots of vendors are selling very dubious offsets, including CCX. I can’t imagine why you would waste your money on the most popular offsets, trees (certainly not a Northern forest — heck, even offset seller Terrapass disses trees). And don’t get us started on the other popular offset, RECs.

But I know some of you out there really want to be carbon neutral, and while you have bought 100 percent renewable power for your superefficient home that uses a geothermal heating and cooling system to replace natural gas, and you bought a Prius for the family car and you telecommute, you just haven’t figured out how to avoid some driving and flying.

What to do? Buy real emissions credits from the European market and retire them permanently! Now that is the best idea since solar baseload.

Here is an article on Carbon Retirement, which launched on July 15. Now obviously European allowances are much more expensive than offsets — but that is the whole point. Offsets are like junk bonds or perhaps more appropriately subprime loans. European allowances are the real deal.

Yes, I know you are concerned that Phase 1 of the European emissions trading scheme didn’t go well. But in fact, it really didn’t go that badly. But in any case, Phase 1 was pre-2008 and thus was a trading scheme without a hard emissions cap, which is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread — a mess.

As Carbon Retirement explains:

The price of Phase 1 EUAs dropped when analysts realised in spring 2006 that European governments had allocated so many allowances that the regulated industries did not have to make reductions. This was because the allocation plans were based on estimates of emissions, rather than audited measurements.

The allocation plans behind Phase 2 are based on extensive and credible measurement of the industries’ emissions, and the industries within the scheme will have to make emission reductions. This is why the price of Phase 2 credits remained strong when the Phase 1 credits collapsed. Independent analysts have recently assessed the allocation for Phase 2 and forecast that credits will be scarce.

Actually, their entire website is incredibly informative and explains why buying and retiring European allowances is infinitely superior to wasting your money on buying offsets.

Kudos to Dan Lewer, who founded this company at the age of 25.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.