But what counts as quality?
Carbon Direct says it can include carefully managed and closely monitored reforestation efforts or the burying of biochar, a charcoal-like material formed from plant matter that can sequester carbon in soil. It also noted emerging categories like carbon-sucking direct-air-capture factories and the use of trees and plants to produce energy, heat, or fuel while capturing and sequestering any resulting emissions (an approach known as “biomass with carbon removal and storage”).
But those are tiny categories today, and there are plenty of technical, economic, or carbon math challenges associated with most of those concepts as well. As the global carbon market continues to grow, expect plenty of continuing studies, stories, and spats over which approaches reliably counteract climate change and what the marketplace and governments will be willing to pay for such efforts.
In the meanwhile, companies looking to credibly shrink their climate footprint always have another, better option immediately at hand: directly cutting their pollution.
Be sure to read Heidi Blake’s piece in the New Yorker, detailing the many problems with the Kariba project: “The Great Cash-for-Carbon Hustle.”
A few years ago, I partnered up with ProPublica’s Lisa Song to produce a pair of pieces exploring how the befuddling tree math in California’s offset system could encourage cherry-picking practices that might dramatically overstate the climate benefits of such projects.
Keeping up with climate
On Monday, the Washington Post’s Shannon Osaka highlighted the growing use of the terms like “climate emergency” and “climate crisis” in the scientific literature as researchers grow increasingly concerned over sharply rising temperatures. It also noted that the planet could cross the dreaded 1.5 ˚C warming threshold in about six years, at current rates of climate emissions.
In sad news, Professor Saleemul Huq, who directed the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, passed away over the weekend. Nature recently described him as the “unofficial leader” of the movement to compel the world’s heaviest historic climate polluters to recognize an obligation to pay developing nations for the damages wrought by climate change. Listen to his interview with Akshat Rathi of Bloomberg, who described him as “the greatest champion of climate vulnerable countries,” on the Zero podcast here.
Erecting far more transmission lines is one of the most important underappreciated pieces of any realistic plan to decarbonize the US electricity grids. But they got some much needed love this week, as the US Department of Energy announced it would spend $1.3 billion to help spur the development of a trio of major power lines across six states. As the New York Times’ Brad Plumer notes, however, far more needs to be done to build out the modern, interconnected network the nation needs.
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