ENVI 212
The Economics and Ethics of CO2 Offsets Spring 2020
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed POEC 214 / ECON 214 / ENVI 212

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Some electric utilities and other CO2 emission polluters are allowed to purchase carbon offsets to achieve a portion of their mandated emissions cuts, in effect, to pay others to reduce carbon emissions in their stead. Some individuals, college and universities, and for-profit and non-profit institutions have chosen voluntarily to purchase carbon offsets as a way of reducing their carbon footprint. But do offsets actually succeed in reducing carbon emissions? What separates a legitimate offset from one that is not? How should we measure the true impact of an offset? How do carbon offsets compare to other policies for reducing carbon emissions in terms of efficiency, equity, and justice? Is there something inherently wrong about “commodifying” the atmosphere? Is there something inherently wrong about selling or buying the right to pollute? Should colleges and universities be using the purchase of offsets to achieve “carbon neutrality?”
The Class: Type: meetings with the instructor in pairs for one hour each week
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3141
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: a 5- to 7-page paper every other week; a 3-page written critique every other week; one re-write paper
Prerequisites: ECON 110 or the equivalent, permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students and sophomores intending to major in Economics and/or to major or concentrate in Environmental Studies
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
POEC 214 Division II ECON 214 Division II ENVI 212 Division II
WS Notes: Each student will write five 5-7 page papers on which I will provide written feedback regarding grammar, style, and argument. Each student will write five 3-page critiques of their partners papers. As the final assignment, each student will revise one of their five papers.
Attributes: ENVI Environmental Policy
POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses

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