The market for carbon offsets is booming, and a series of efforts have sprung up to define rules and standards that will tackle their often dodgy reputation. Global agreement on those rules is crucial to achieving a net-zero future and essential to helping avert the looming climate catastrophe.
Carbon markets should be a fire hose for directing money where it’s genuinely needed in the climate crisis. But that will only happen if we rethink how we are using carbon credits. Instead of seeing them as a way to wash away climate “sins,” we should focus on the outcomes we are trying to achieve. That’s because different outcomes need different incentives. There are three main outcomes that the carbon markets could address to enable meaningful climate action: Reducing emissions as quickly as possible Protecting natural carbon sinks Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere