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Carbon Debate Threatens to Leave Prices Sky High, or ‘Worthless’

Offset standards will have major implications for whether nascent market is able to develop properly 

Snow covered trees near Snoqualmie Pass in Washington on Jan. 4, 2022.

Snow covered trees near Snoqualmie Pass in Washington on Jan. 4, 2022.

Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg

The debate over what standards should be applied to carbon offsets could end with requirements so stringent they send prices soaring to punishingly high levels, or by leaving rules so loose they make offsets cheap enough to be “largely worthless,” according to a forecast from BloombergNEF. 

The buying and selling of credits that purport to offset a company’s pollution has become part of the global effort to limit global warming, but regulations over those markets are still in infancy and the standards set now will have major implications for whether companies and countries are able to reach emissions goals.