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FRONTLINE/World http://www.centerforinvestigativereporting.org/ Carbon Watch
FRONTLINE/World,Carbon Watch

Trading Trees

Boon or boondoggle for climate change

January 7, 2010

One issue that showed promise of reaching a consensus in Copenhagen is the preservation of the world's remaining forests. The issue has long been debated in a U.N. program called REDD, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. 

At the center of forest preservation is a new and controversial global carbon market that would allow polluting industries to offset their emissions with credits from programs that "sequester" or prevent the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. The EU already operates such a market, and the U.S. Congress is expected to pass legislation next year that would mandate emission limits for American industries and create its own carbon market. 

But what constitutes a "carbon neutral commodity?" In this video report, a joint project with the Center for Investigative Reporting, Mark Schapiro looks at why U.S. companies are so set on counting forests as offsets, and why the plan remains highly controversial.