“Carbon isn’t nice and neat and well behaved.”

And neither are questions about ownership of carbon reduction credits when one considers the numerous players in the supply chain of many consumer products. Joel Makower gives us a taste of this complexity by analyzing Alcoa’s desire to be “carbon neutral” by 2020. It’s a laudable goal fraught with many difficulties, as Joel demonstrates with the help of Sue Hall, founder and executive director of the Climate Neutral Network.

I find this fascinating, as I think (and correct me if I’m wrong) that this relates to a question I had about green tags: ownership isn’t necessarily a question in that case, but the term of existence of the offset is. That is, it doesn’t make sense to me that offset credits, whatever there form, have a long “shelf life”: at some point, doesn’t the offset become irrelevant as more carbon emissions are created? I’m probably (once again) oversimplifying a complex matter, and let me again point out again that I don’t think that offsets are a bad thing. Clearly, though, it has to be an ongoing process.

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