It's time to kill the carbon credit

Originally published at: It's time to kill the carbon credit | Boing Boing


the end result is still the same: a self-perpetuating marketplace that produces no tangible assets, and exists exclusively to create wealth and power for the wealthy and powerful while making things worse for everyone else.

But what if we put carbon credits on the blockchain? That will make it useful! [/s, but I guarantee you that multiple people have business plans or actual enterprises with this mission]

There is no abstracted economic solution to the climate emergency. Have international environmental regulatory bodies charge major emitters directly in cold hard fiat USD and you’ll quickly see how incentives and disincentives should work.


Oh yes, the best people.


The glass floor, Web3 edition. Neumann cost WeWork investors billions of dollars, alienated and abused the company’s staff in the most hypocritical ways possible, engaged in blatant self-dealing, and the VCs are still giving him another chance with something even more culty and scammy.


Great essay. Now do KSR’s carbon coin. He admitted recently he should never have brought blockchain into it, but I think the basic idea is still sound: Sci-fi carbon coins could actually save our planet | Popular Science

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I love me some KSR and found the book very thought provoking. I’m still not sure why a special and tradeable digital coin – blockchain based or otherwise – is needed when there are perfectly good reserve fiat currencies available for incentives or disincentives.

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Back on 2008 someone made a satirical short film skewering the premise of buying “carbon credits” by applying the same logic to marital fidelity: offers a unique market-based solution to this essential problem of modern life. For the cost of a condom, those who have cheated on their partners - whether a drunken hook-up at the office party or a sustained period of bigamy - can have their cheating ‘offset’ by a global network of fidelity.

(The link above is dead and the video is far longer than it needs to be but you get the idea.)


But what if we put carbon credits on the blockchain?

Don’t joke about being an idiot.

As Cory Doctorow explains in his essay The Inevitability of Trusted Third Parties. There is no solution to blockchain’s oracle problem.

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All the current discourse about blockchain advocates wanting to put everything on the blockchain, including medical records(!), because they want to create “new markets”, just highlights how similar in my mind the blockchain is to past Ponzi schemes, like subprime mortgages or, indeed, carbon credits. Here’s a thing you can package up and buy or sell, and bet on others buying and selling, if you’re already too wealthy to ever really care about the environment, or people, or anything but money, really.


I don’t trust KSR ever since he showed up at my window with a water gun and a bottle of wine


Well, the voluntary ones never really seemed to have any oversight and the US and China never signed on to any mandatory schemes, leaving a decent chunk of the emissions out. So the whole concept has been a bit dead for a while.

The murder thing is kind of overwrought.

On the plus side:


Still need to do better, a lot better.

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Here in Cambodia, I work with an organization that encourages entrepreneurial approaches to social and environmental development problems (and aren’t assholes about it). Because some of the businesses they incubate have positive environmental effects, they end up with carbon credits.
Managing that has turned up a huge barely documented international market for these credits that allow them to be used as credits by multiple separate entities, who sell them on, after taking the benefit in their tax filings. This is made complicated because it happens across borders, and no effective means of tracking these credits to ensure double, triple, quadruple dipping isn’t happening.
This is the only logic for using a blockchain, perhaps. But they still are a malignant arena for manipulation: as Canada had the courage to do, a Carbon Tax is clearly a far better way forward.


I always thought the carbon credit scheme was shady. It, IMO, made the whole “climate change” thing sound like a way to make money in the 90s.

I really think you hit the nail on the head with your murder market analogy, as if there were a mass of consumers demanding that carbon be spewed into our atmosphere, or various far flung places where the emitting of toxic contaminants into the air is okay, as long as all who live nearby understand and are not misinformed by false advertising that they occupy a murder market, that staying is a choice to succumb to cancer. It’s quite ironic, but you do not tip toe. I think you would have also scored well if you had concentrated on a counting of the coup, as you hinted, and elaborated on a kind of war market for a purchased or traded number of civilian casualties, which may include, but not be limited to, murder.


I still find it interesting that Tesla makes a LOT of money selling carbon credits while also being a horrible polluter.
Edited to add: PERI - Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index (
Report — As You Sow
After years of pollution violations, Tesla is fined $275,000 by the EPA - Los Angeles Times (


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