Feed-In Tariffs vs Carbon Credits

Beginning in the 1990s, yearly climate conferences bring together world leaders from around the globe to discuss how they can collectively work together to lower emissions and prevent global warming on a significant scale. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol established the first and most well known incentive for countries to lower their emissions: carbon credit trading. With our nations focused primarily on their GDP, making the offsetting of emissions profitable seems like a smart step towards a greener future[1].

Years on, carbon credits are traded by offsetting programs such as reforestry, carbon/methane sequestration, renewable energy and materials, and emission avoidance schemes[2]. Yet even without the corruption, double-selling and fraudulent activities that plague the carbon credit industry[3] the question remains; how can you value environmental damage? A carbon credit bought today in exchange for 10,000 trees does nothing to guarantee that they will remain uncut before the 10 years it will take for them to sequester 22kg of carbon each. Credits bought from renewable energy do not reduce the emissions of a nearby coal plant, and some biomass plants claim themselves as renewable, even as they burn trees for power and give off higher emissions than coal. As our planet reliably breaks global temperature records every decade since their invention[4], carbon credits prove themselves lacking in their ability to halt our emissions.

Feed-in Tariffs now prove themselves to be the unsung heroes of climate development, as low emission materials, manufacturing and energy generation are granted financial rewards for their adoption. FIT schemes in the EU led to a combined 70,000Mw deployment of solar and wind generators between 2000 to 2010[5], while a UK study found their adoption to empower communities to become more self-dependent, and offer a way for individual households and business to contribute to the adoption of low-emission and renewable power.[6] It is our hope that more methods like these rise to the challenge of decarbonising our society.

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