In a recent report by the folks at Environmental Finance (pdf), the US was found to be the largest market for voluntary carbon emissions offset trading. This can be interpreted in a few ways, and given the hour of the evening I'll beg you to forgive my simplistic comments.
1) It's a good thing: People are becoming more aware of the impacts their activities have on the planet. Whether they are looking for environmental "indulgences" or have some deeper commitment to their environment, they're taking action. Money is flowing to a new market, and in some cases spurring carbon reducing project development.
2) It's a bad thing: People are merely investing in charities, some of which have dubious ways to manage and "prove" the value of their offsets. There is no real connection between a person's actions and the amount of carbon their purchase prevents from being emitted, therefore, real reductions are not made.
On an energy note; here's a shocker: Draft NPC Report Warns of Looming Energy Crunch. Some highlights on how to reduce energy use and foreign dependence on it:
- Moderating demand growth by "increasing efficiency in transportation, residential, commercial and industrial uses"
- Expand and diversify energy production by tapping into ''all available economic energy sources, including coal, nuclear, renewables, and unconventional oil and natural gas" such as extra-heavy oil and bitumen
- Integrating energy in all other related policy areas including trade, economic, environmental, security and foreign policy
- Boosting R&D efforts to create long-term opportunities
- Reducing emissions of global warming gases "including the establishment of a transparent, predictable, economy-wide cost for CO2" and a regulatory framework for carbon sequestration and storage.