Carbon credits’ early retirement

Carbon offsets just seem to get trickier and trickier.

Ever since the practice began of letting polluters buy “credits” gained from the production of clean, renewable energy to make up for the dirty, nonrenewable energy they produce themselves, others have been saying people shouldn’t be able to buy the right to pollute.

Putting a new spin on that is San Francisco’s Outside Lands summer music festival. When tickets recently went on sale, concert-goers could add $3 to their $225.50 tab to “offset” their festival experience. According to the fest’s website: “These donations will be used to purchase (and then retire) pollution credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. By buying and then retiring these credits, we will directly prevent polluting companies from buying them and using them as a ‘right to pollute.'” So companies who’ve run out of carbon credits can’t just buy more—at least not through the Chicago Climate Exchange.