The Glasgow climate pact, the final agreement that came out of this month’s United Nations climate summit, is filled with fuzzy statements. It “urges,” “requests,” “invites,” or “welcomes” nations to do things, like increase their financial support to developing countries, or revise their climate plans to aim for steeper emissions cuts. With nothing actually required of countries after this momentous round of international negotiations, it would be easy to assume that the agreement accomplished little.
However, one portion of the deal will have a very concrete outcome. After years of tense debate, world leaders committed to rules for a new international carbon market. Now, countries will be allowed to fund projects that reduce emissions in other countries, like solar farms or reforestation, and count the climate benefits toward their own national greenhouse gas goals. But it’s a scheme where the risks are as high as, if not higher than, the rewards.
Proponents of this new U.N.-regulated carbon offset market see it as a way to goad wealthier countries into doing more to cut emissions by making it cheaper to do so. The idea is that for some countries, pa... Read more