Concerns with Carbon Markets

I have ongoing concerns with carbon markets. Alex Steffen, in a recent WIRED article, says it well…

We don’t need a War on Carbon. We need a new prosperity that can be shared by all while still respecting a multitude of ecological limits – not just atmospheric gas concentrations, but topsoil depth, water supplies, toxic chemical concentrations, and the health of ecosystems, including the diversity of life they depend upon.

We can build a future in which technology, design, smart incentives, and wise policies make it possible to deliver a high quality of life at lower ecological cost. But that brighter, greener future is attainable only if we embrace the problems we face in all their complexity.

I’ve been encouraged by the growth of the carbon market…and the potential of those markets to remediate greenhouse gases. But I also realize from our own research and development that we are better off to solve our environmental problems in an integrated and adaptive manner…not being too ‘simple’ in markets designed to solve complex problems. Both in scale and extent, we had tended to be overly general. It has also been difficult to bring capital to complex solutions because, by their sheer complexity, they hold significant risk.