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ProPublica: Carbon Credits Don’t Fight Climate Change

U.S. Forest Service aerial survey of the Cleveland and San Bernardino forests...

Photo by U.S. Forest Service

Above: U.S. Forest Service aerial survey of the Cleveland and San Bernardino forests, 2016.

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The benefits of carbon offset programs are far from certain, according to a report by ProPublica. ProPublica reporter Lisa Song joins Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss how after reporting on the issue she concluded that carbon credits haven’t and won’t deliver the climate benefit they promise.

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Aired: May 28, 2019 | Transcript

At a time when the Trump administration is scaling back environmental protections, California continues to be a leader in the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, the state is considering expanding its carbon offset program, which allows polluters to pay a fee to support things like forest preservation programs. California's program is currently limited to forest preservation projects in North America. The expansion, if approved, would allow for intercontinental carbon offset programs. Supporters say it could serve as a model for other countries to follow.

But, the benefits of carbon offset programs are far from certain, according to a report by ProPublica.

"In case after case, I found that carbon credits hadn’t offset the amount of pollution they were supposed to, or they had brought gains that were quickly reversed or that couldn’t be accurately measured to begin with. Ultimately, the polluters got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO₂, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last," Propublica reporter Lisa Song wrote.

Song joins Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss how her reporting led her to the conclusion that carbon credits haven’t and won’t deliver the climate benefit they promise.

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