Carbon credits allow individuals and businesses to offset their carbon dioxide emissions by investing in "green" technologies like hydroelectric and solar power, planting trees that absorb carbon dioxide, and other ventures.
The demand for these offsets has led to a growing industry of for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations selling carbon credits.
Many experts say that carbon offsets are a powerful tool to combat climate change, but others caution that the industry needs to be regulated to weed out scams and projects that don't deliver what they promise.
Two experts answered your questions about carbon offsets.
Daniel Kammen is a professor in the Energy and Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written extensively about carbon markets and other energy resource management issues. He is an adviser to the U. S. and Swedish Agencies for International Development, the World Bank, and the Presidents Committee on Science and Technology, and is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Caitlin Sparks is the U.S. Marketing Director for the Gold Standard Foundation (www.cdmgoldstandard.org), a nonprofit organization that certifies renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The foundation began in Europe in 2005 and recently opened a U.S. office.