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Carbon Offset Trading Is Taking Off Before Any Rules Are Set

A group led by finance titans Mark Carney and Bill Winters wants to establish high standards, but surging demand is pushing exchanges to start trading well before that.

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Photographer: Felix Kastle/DPA/Getty Images

The most ambitious attempt to set a high standard for carbon offsets is getting left behind as exchanges start trading contracts before the rules are finalized. 

The Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, launched by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and Standard Chartered Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters, is populated by hundreds of bankers, airline executives, sustainability experts, commodities traders, scientists and other business leaders. On Thursday, after almost a year of internal wrangling, the group set out its final recommendations for how to define an offset, a sort of token that companies may use to cancel out their pollution.