Carbon offset programs…are they for real?

I once received an offer from a green energy company asking me if I want to reduce my carbon footprint by parting some of my few precious dollars every month to support their wind energy project.

They call it selling carbon offsets, meaning, if you feel guilty about your carbon emissions every time you drive, eat, or just breathe, companies or organizations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions for you to ease your guilt by paying them to plant more trees, use renewable energy or any other green practices that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The million dollar question is are they’re really doing something to help the environment or just pocketing your money?

This is why the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) started a series of workshops examining the use of environmental marketing claims as well as the emerging carbon trading and purchase of renewable energy certificates.

Multinational corporations such as Volkswagen, Dell, Delta and Continental Airlines, GE and Bank of America are already participating in carbon-offset schemes, according to this article from the New York Times.

According to the FTC, the potential for deception is huge in this type of growing but still unregulated trading.

I’m sure there are honest companies and organizations out there that really care about the environment and just need some of our money to make it work.

But for now, I just threw the letter from that green company in my recycling bin. Until the FTC will have some guidance on this type of marketing, my dream of being carbon neutral can wait.

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