Because the comments section at the Economist has an excruciating registration process — I’ve attempted and failed to sign up at least three times now — I’ll ask this question here. Maybe the internet gods will get this back to the Economist blogger’s ear…
The Church was absolving sins in the name of God. It was obviously a racket; as if the negative of the sin could be somehow removed by a blessing and so many Hail Marys (and the lining of a pocket or two).
In the case of carbon credits, we can actually erase the sin of carbon emissions. Yes, the Vatican planting trees in Romania makes it hard for Romanians to plant trees (and offset carbon emissions). Trees aren’t the only way to offset carbon though. There’s lots of talk of artificial carbon sequestration. These techniques will become more and more profitable as a) demand for them increases and b) natural sequestration becomes more expensive.
You’re The Economist for criminy sakes. Have more faith in markets!