10 U.S. states want emerging market regulated



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Officials in 10 U.S. states have asked for guidelines for businesses that sell credits for carbon offset.


Leery about the potential for fraud in the emerging carbon offset market, officials in 10 U.S. states have asked the Federal Trade Commission to develop guidelines for businesses that sell credits.

The inherently intangible nature of carbon offsets and the lack of standards and definitions among those selling them make it hard for consumers to know whether they got what they paid for, according to the attorney general for Vermont, William Sorrell, and his counterparts in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.

Carbon offset is the term applied to credits bought by people and companies to offset their contributions to global climate change by supporting environmental projects.

It’s become trendy among travellers who especially want to try and make up for the pollution created by long-haul plane flights.

The market for carbon offsets has ballooned into a $100-US-million-a-year business, but it needs regulation by the federal government, the attorneys general said in a seven-page letter Jan. 27.

The FTC should research consumers’ understanding of what carbon offsets are and what disclosures might be necessary to help them make informed decisions, and should undertake enforcement efforts to prevent “overly broad environmental claims” by sellers, the officials said.