(Well, that would be a universal "we". I have the same concerns and I'm not buying.)
On January 8, the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection will hold a workshop on carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (REC). Per the FTC:
"The workshop will focus on consumer protection issues in these markets, such as consumer perception of carbon offset and REC advertising claims..."As businesses seek to reduce their environmental impact, some are making carbon offset purchases part of their business model.
I love to see businesses acting as a force for positive change; I hate to think that these good people may not get value for their money. (And per Christopher Joyce's report, consumers are now spending $100 million (USD) annually on carbon offsets.)
If you're thinking about buying offsets for your business (or your Grandma), buyer beware.
(For more on this topic, the NPR page for the story that noodged me to post has a great link list. Check out Joel Makower's Two Steps Forward. I've got several posts on the topic, too.)