Foreign Policy Blogs

Carbon Offsets and the F.T.C., Presidential Candidates and Science, plus Solar Business

Voluntary Offsets , So we've gone off for a visit to a resort area in Arizona, staying with a friend.  What's the expenditure of GHG as a consequence of our trip?  The short answer is:  I have no idea.  However, if I choose to "offset" the carbon "cost" of the round-trip flight from Newark to Phoenix, I can go to my airline and they'll calculate it for me and I can pay them a little extra and they will then apply that to a worthy project such as reforestation, or some other project, usually under the rules of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) program.  There is enormous business activity that stems from this arrangement which I wrote about back in April under Markets

Well the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is interested in this market and how it serves people, and rightfully so.  F.T.C. Asks if Carbon-Offset Money Is Well Spent is the headline of the story from the "NY Times" last week.  "Corporations and shoppers in the United States spent more than $54 million last year on carbon offset credits toward tree planting, wind farms, solar plants and other projects to balance the emissions created by, say, using a laptop computer or flying on a jet."  And the market is growing.  All the F.T.C. wants to know is if consumers are being treated honestly.  They had a workshop last week to address this question.  You can see a webcast of the workshop and other information here.  This is all part of their regulatory review of the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. 

Presidential Candidates and Science , I've written about the U.S. Presidential race a couple of times, most recently here.  "Science," the prestigious journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science had a ten-page special report, "Science and the Next U.S. President" recently.  This article sums up the report.  One of their top editors said:  "Science felt that it was important to find out what the presidential candidates think about issues that may not be part of their standard stump speeches but that are vital to the future of the country–from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to improving science and math education."  Go here for the introduction to the report, to access all the various candidates' views, and to see related items from "Science." 

"Here Comes the Sun" , The  venerable "Financial Times" had an arresting article the other day:  The sun shines on the solar industry's quest for "grid parity', in which we learn that "last year is likely to have seen the installation of solar systems providing 4GW, up from 2.5GW in 2006.  Most commentators expect the figure to continue to grow by 25-35 per cent a year."  They reference the enormous influence of the initiatives from Google and Walmart, among others, in advancing solar capability and other renewables.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change