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More on the Offset Hearing Wednesday

By Joe Romm

"More on the Offset Hearing Wednesday"

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This hearing is the main reason I haven’t had time to post more “rules” — I know, I know … you have been waiting for them as anxiously as for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing tomorrow on voluntary carbon offsets will be webcast at globalwarming.house.gov — and I have been reliably informed that if there’s any problem with that website, the direct link to the hearing room feed is here — you don’t get that kind of information anywhere else on the Web.

And here’s a Greenwire (subs. req’d) story on the hearing:

Markey’s panel to explore voluntary carbon offsets

Michael Burnham, E&E Daily senior reporter

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hosts a hearing tomorrow on voluntary carbon offsets.

Climate Change: Taking stock of Industrial Emissions — An E&E Special Report

The hearing comes as the global marketplace for helping consumers and corporations offset greenhouse gas emissions continues to grow and prosper. The market is largely unregulated, and consumers don’t always get what they pay for.

Committee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) intends to explore how transparency mechanisms could improve trust in the marketplace. “We’re going to use this hearing to learn as much as we can about voluntary carbon offsets, the positive and the not-so-positive,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for the select panel.

Unlike the European Union, the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and is not subject to a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Companies within the European Union must cut their emissions or buy offsets on a regulated market to stay below the cap, but U.S. firms may buy offsets voluntarily on the Chicago Climate Exchange or directly from an offset company or project developer.

Offset companies typically buy credits from developers who use the money to plant trees or build low- or no-carbon renewable energy projects. The intermediaries then sell the credits to individuals or companies who want to mitigate some or all of their emissions.

According to a recent World Bank analysis, the global market for voluntary offsets grew to about $100 million last year. But with more than 50 firms selling offsets today, the World Bank projects that the voluntary market could swell to 400 million metric tons a year by 2010.

Schedule: The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.

Witnesses: Derik Broekhoff, senior associate, World Resources Institute; Joseph Romm, senior fellow, Center for American Progress; Thomas Boucher, president and CEO, NativeEnergy LLC; Russ George, president and CEO, Planktos Inc.; and Eric Blatchford, CEO, TerraPass.

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