As he U.S. Governmen Accounabiliy Ofice (GAO) repors,“In heory, ofses allow regulaed eniies o emi more whilemainaining he emissions levels se by a cap and rade pro-gram or oher program o limi emissions.”
Ofses mus mee a series o requiremens in order o bevalid — requiremens ha are oen hard o mee and veriy.These include proving ha an ofse is real, addiional, per-manen, quaniiable, veriiable and enorceable.
These aredeined as:
There mus be evidence ha he ofse is boh appro-priae and accurae;
The ofse mus be irreversible;
Emissions reducions mus exceed (be in addi-ion o) hose required by law, and mus exceed reducionsha would oherwise occur in a business-as-usual scenario;
I mus be possible o accuraely measure andcalculae he emissions reducions produced by an ofse,and o be able o replicae he indings;
The emissions reducions rom an ofse mus bemoniored and documened; and
There mus be srucures o accounabiliyin place and a body ha oversees and enorces heserequiremens.
Meeing hese requiremens is challenging, especially wihregard o REDD+ ores ofses. Firs, guaraneeing perma-nence is very dificul.
Trees can easily be cu down, dam-aged by ire or desroyed hrough oher naural disasers.
ACongressional Research Service repor suggess ha ofsescould come wih assurances ha i somehing compromisedhe ofse i would be resored.
However, his conradics hepoin o requiring permanence and presens anoher loopholein ofse compliance.Second, esablishing a baseline o greenhouse gas emissionsis very dificul, ye i is a vial componen.
Baselines areneeded o compare prediced reducions o wha would havehappened wihou he ofse program. Wihou his com-parison, deermining emissions reducions or he amoun o carbon sequesered is nearly impossible.
Baselines are also needed o esablish addiionaliy, he re-quiremen ha reducions be in addiion o wha would havehappened i no acion were aken. This requires deerminingwha he emissions levels would have been wihou an ofseprogram.
Wihou a properly calculaed baseline, i is di-icul o deermine addiionaliy, and non-addiional ofseshave already been awarded under exising programs, meaningha real reducions may no maerialize.
Third, here is a signiican risk or leakage o occur. Thishappens when emissions conrols cause polluion o shielsewhere, leading o reduced emissions in he locaion underregulaion and increased emissions in unregulaed areas.
Thepolluion hereore “leaks” rom one area o anoher. For ex-ample, i a counry agrees o proec is oress, logging com-panies could move o unproeced land and carry ou logginghere. I his happens, he oal level o prevened deoresa-ion and emissions would be unchanged, because he leakageelsewhere cancels ou he reducions in he regulaed area.
A ourh complicaion o ofses is ha hey cause disorionsin price signals and incenives o reduce emissions wihin hepolluion marke. I he marke is o work as supporers suggesi will, hen marke signals mus be able o drive prices in ordero drive reducions in polluion ha is now le o he marke,insead o regulaion. I oo much emphasis is placed on he useo ofses o achieve reducions, he proper price signals are nosen o polluers o reduce emissions a he source and subse-quenly o inves in he necessary echnology o do so.
This complicaion can be atribued o he disorionary naureo ofses, which serve primarily o make compliance wihreducion requiremens less expensive, raher han inceniviz-ing polluers o reduce emissions a he source.
Again, ofsesrepresen a loophole ha undermines real emissions reduc-ions, urher perpeuaing he problems caused by green-house gas emissions.Finally, measuring emissions reducions is anoher challenge,and ores projecs are he mos conroversial ype o ofse