Carbon offsets: How a Vatican forest failed to reduce global warming
From a scheme to create an algae bloom in the South Pacific to a Vatican forest in the plains of Hungary – how one carbon offset developer's ideas failed to reduce global warming.
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KlimaFa – and the Vatican’s still unfulfilled offsets – were left in the hands of a Budapest partner, David Gazdag. He blogged a few times about the project, occasionally stopped by government offices to talk, but planted no trees.Skip to next paragraph
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“This is a problem,” Gyorgy Dallos, a World Wildlife Federation official, said in Budapest. Carbon offsets create “false hope” if they’re not real. The Vatican’s emissions, he noted, are not neutralized.
Few of the players want to talk about that problem. Mr. Gazdag agreed to an interview in Budapest, then canceled. A Vatican spokesman says “the case is being studied to take legal action in order to defend the Vatican’s reputation.” The Hungarian government, once an enthusiastic supporter of the project, now wants no part of it. Erika Hasznos, Hungary’s chief climate policy officer, walked out of an interview when asked if KlimaFa had submitted applications for the project.
George created another website in 2008, announcing a new business, Planktos-Science. He did not agree to an interview. He replied by e-mail that this story seemed a “potentially hostile piece” and insisted his new company is “no longer affiliated with the now defunct” old company he ran.
In the impoverished village of Tiszakeszi, where KlimaFa trees were to be planted, Mayor Kiss Lajos looks forlornly over the empty space along the Tisza River where George had promised to plant “the Vatican Forest” and create hundreds of jobs.
“We felt honored because the Vatican chose our village,” he said. “Now we feel sorry.”
2. How the "Vatican Forest" was felled before it grew