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Elisa Martinuzzi and Marcus Ashworth

City of London Wants to Clean Up the World

Britain is aiming to be a hub for carbon credit and green derivatives trading. It has the know-how but how much of a market is there?

Can you offset this?

Can you offset this?

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images AsiaPac

Britain believes it has chosen the ideal moment to throw its weight behind a financial innovation that might help save the world. As part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s blueprint to fight the climate emergency, the U.K. is exploring the creation of a London-based international market in carbon offsets, carbon credits and derivatives linked to emissions-cutting investments.

The plan sounds noble. Should it really take off, you might even be able to reduce your personal emissions by buying an offset when you do environmentally damaging things like fill up your car with gas, or buy a cup of coffee. But betting on this utopian-sounding outcome would be premature.