surprise, surprise!

Carbon offsets. The way this works is that you pay someone else to take action – by planting trees or investing in renewable energy sources – that will reduce greenhouse gases. That action acts as a proxy for your own emission cuts.

However, research by the University of NSW found many of the carbon certificates issued don’t represent additional cuts in emissions. In other words, some firms are being rewarded for doing things they would have done regardless of the financial incentive offered by the scheme.

For example, government agency, Forests NSW, generates certificates from its forests and sells the certificates to offset companies who then sell them to the public. But Forest NSW hasn’t planted any additional trees.
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2007 – screen copy held by this website