Here is an excellent New York Times story on payments to firms that destroy HFC-23, a by product from the creation of air conditioning coolant. The gas is 11,700 times worse for climate change than C02 so the UN set a price for destroying the gas 11,700 times higher than for eliminating C02. N.B. In a real market prices are based on supply and demand not just demand! Hi jinx ensue:
…since 2005 the 19 plants receiving the waste gas payments have profited handsomely from an unlikely business: churning out more harmful coolant gas so they can be paid to destroy its waste byproduct. The high output keeps the prices of the coolant gas irresistibly low, discouraging air-conditioning companies from switching to less-damaging alternative gases.
…The production of coolants was so driven by the lure of carbon credits for waste gas that in the first few years more than half of the plants operated only until they had produced the maximum amount of gas eligible for the carbon credit subsidy, then shut down until the next year, United Nations reports said. The plants also used inefficient manufacturing processes to generate as much waste gas as possible…
The invisible hand is subtle and difficult to duplicate with manufactured markets. The UN is trying to stop the payment program but, as usual, the rents attracted rent seekers who are now using their profits to lobby to keep the system in place.
In other offset news, Ted Frank’s chicken offset will let you eat at Chick-fil-A and still keep your liberal conscience clean.
H/t: Carl Danner.