I have written before about carbon offset scams -- even well intentioned programs are unlikely to achieve their promised benefits because
- The projects they fund are typically not incremental -- many likely would have proceeded without the offset funds, so that the benefits are effectively double counted.
- I have never seen any of these programs submit themselves to 3rd party offset of their supposed CO2 reductions. In most cases, these are faith-based programs where it is impolite to ask if the promised reductions actually occur.
Randal O'Toole has a good example of a program that makes all these mistakes, and compounds them with absurdly high administrative costs. One is left to wonder whether the Oregon state-run program is actually reducing CO2 or simply making sure a number of government salaries get paid.
In 2006, Climate Trust spent about two-thirds of its funds on carbon offsets, while most of the rest went for payroll and professional fees. In 2007, the share going to carbon offsets declined to 64 percent. By 2008, as near as I can tell, none of Climate Trust's money went for carbon offsets. Instead, 73 percent of its $1.65 million budget went for salaries, fees, and other compensation. It also spent more than $120,000 on travel and conferences and $95,000 on rent and office expenses. In 2008, Climate Trust paid its executive director $154,000, not counting health insurance and other fringe benefits. At least one other staff member whose title was "director of offset programs" was paid more than $100,000 and a third one received $88,000.