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Why don't you sequester some carbon today?

Nord-pool

Here's a novel idea: Buy up carbon credits by the boat load, never emit any carbon, and thereby help to reduce the worldwide output of greenhouse gases. As the demand for credits soars, the value of individual credits will skyrocket, and carbon-reduction technologies will become more cost-competitive. At least, that's the theory.

Just last month, CO2quota.org set up a foundation to collect funds and purchase carbon credits—credits they plan never to use. In exchange for giving money, donors receive a certificate detailing how many tons of carbon they've kept out of the atmosphere. It costs about $19 to offset one ton of carbon emissions. (That's a bargain: $28 will buy you just one ton of carbon emissions using green tags.) CO2quota.org says that they buy their credits from The Nordic Power Exchange, and that Deloitte watches over their books. 

Personally, I'm skeptical. To me, this whole scenario sounds about like ripping up $100 bills to help fight inflation. So far the foundation has offset roughly 185 tons of carbon emissions, which actually isn't much—it's the amount of carbon produced by about twenty average U.S. households in a year. I suspect that similar savings could be achieved if those who bought credits just switched to energy-saving lightbulbs. 

But any environmental movement that relies on the generosity of individuals to donate, volunteer, or otherwise sacrifice our way to a greener future will never work, simply because the problem is too big. The only way green technologies will overtake their older counterparts is for the market to deem them to be more profitable.

On top of that, a system as flawed as the Kyoto Protocol can never be the key to solving our climate crisis. The only credits CO2quota is buying up are those issued to companies who cannot meet current CO2 Kyoto targets. Buying the credits will do nothing to help lower the current targets—and it will have no effect on the world's biggest carbon producers, China and the United States, since they don't fall under Kyoto's jurisdiction.

Ultimately, I hope a group like CO2quota proves me wrong.  But first they should probably hire a copy editor:

“The more CO2 quotas we buy – the more expensive it gets for the industry to pollute with CO2. Hopefully, this will make them rethink the continued use of fusil fuels. Let’s buy back our climate!”
I'll take a rain check.

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Morning Brief, Monday, March 26

Timothy A. Clary/AFP

Middle East

Iran rejected new U.N. sanctions as illegal and suspended cooperation with nuclear inspectors. Iran has already payed a steep financial price for its defiance, the Washington Post reports. And for now, the country is hanging on to 15 captured British sailors.

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with insurgent leaders from early 2006. (Whatever the details of the discussions, they haven't helped Baghdad's devastated Sunni neighborhoods.)

Egypt votes today on highly dubious constitutional amendments. U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice commented, "The process of reform is one that is difficult." Get the grim details here.

2008

Is New York's billionaire mayor running for U.S. president?

Europe 

Nicolas Sarkozy resigned as France's interior minister to concentrate on his presidential run, not long after rival Ségolène Royal began attacking him for his job performance. Strangely, Royal thinks now is an auspicious moment to back Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Germany's Angela Merkel marked Europe's 50th birthday party by calling for a new constitutional treaty. Writing for FP, Alan Sked argues that ordinary Europeans see the EU celebrations as "a sick joke" and the constitution as anti-democratic.

Today's the deadline for Northern Ireland's political leaders to agree on a power-sharing formula.

Asia 

Hong Kong's newly elected leader is Beijing's man.

China's Hu Jintao is looking for energy love in all the right places. Today, he's in Moscow, where he'll also talk with Russian leaders about Iran. 

Just now, Japan's prime minister apologized for his country's use of sex slaves during World War II.

New protests, new arrests in Pakistan as the political crisis continues in that country.

Elsewhere

Venezuela, hoping to double its output, is selling oil bonds to finance new investment. Also, President Hugo Chávez announced new farm seizures.

Sri Lanka's rebel Tamil Tigers flexed their muscle with a bombing raid on the country's international airport.