# On what authority are carbon credits issued? [closed]

Carbon Credits are a weird thing. Businesses can buy and sell them, and having enough carbon credits to offset your CO2 output suddenly makes you a Green Business. That being said, who issues Carbon Credits, and on what authority? Is a Carbon Credit a promise to remove an amount of CO2 from the atmosphere?

Last I checked that was a massively expensive technology still in it's infancy, but Carbon Credits have been around for quite some time. Does it work like a Futures market ("When the tech becomes available I promise to remove 30 bln tons of C02")?

## closed as off-topic by EnergyNumbers, Daniel Griscom, Tactopoda, Fred, Jan DoggenNov 20 '16 at 9:51

• This question does not appear to be about earth science, within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

• This is probably closer to economics/finance or maybe politics than Earth science. Carbon credits are a method, proposed as a means to reduce a nations or the worlds carbon footprint. They're often heavily criticized, and, your question makes a very solid point, mostly not well understood. (People often don't let lack of knowledge stem their criticism). It's a great question, both currently relevant and interesting, but it's not Earth Science. – userLTK Nov 18 '16 at 3:13
• I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about earth science. It's a question about international governance, politics and economics. – EnergyNumbers Nov 19 '16 at 14:35

I'm actually really glad you asked this question, because I just assumed that carbon offsets were effective proven means, like planting trees. But looking at some of these projects is bringing up some doubt in my mind. I don't see how burning methane into CO$_2$ is doing anything except turning a larger short-term problem into a smaller long-term problem. Or how to measure the exact number of tons of carbon you are saving by changing domestic behavior.
• Basically. You can pay that company I linked to get them to remove a ton of CO$_2$. In a carbon cap and trade system, you would have to "buy" those carbon offsets from someone else in order to emit an extra ton of CO$_2$ by, say, opening a new power plant or factory. – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 19:12
• Yes. Cap and trade is probably the best plan for preventing further rises in CO$_2$ emissions while not damaging economies. However, it is really only effective if done on a worldwide scale. In the US, CO$_2$ emissions are already going down, so lots of polluters are shutting down or reducing emissions. In that case, there will be a supply glut of carbon credits and thus they will be cheap to buy, and therefore poor at de-incentivising new carbon emissions. – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 19:18