We all have read or heard about Carbon Credits, and other Environmental Credits accruing to Big Business... but I don't really understand all the logic in them. If an industrial plant produces too many greenhouse gases, it seems they can simply buy carbon credits from someone doing a better job for the environment, and continue polluting. I think partly it's just another shell game in financial manipulation, because it surely hasn't improved the air quality, ozone layer, global warming and greenhouse gases that I can see.
There's a lot of talk encouraging us all to reduce our "carbon footprint" (and some of us do) but somehow I don't think we will run out of carbon based fuels (wood, oil, coal and natural gas) before mankind makes it almost impossible to grow anything edible on this lovely blue planet. Human beings are carbon-based, and our foods are carbon-based. How does buying and selling carbon credits help us grow more and healthier foods and live a healthier life?
On the other hand, burying small bits of carbon (natural charcoal, NOT charcoal briquettes) in my garden certainly improves the health of the soil, and lately I see many more earthworms and other visible organisms. (I can't see the gazillion others without a microscope.) I'm also beginning to see more and healthier production in the very earliest beds I amended with biochar 5 years ago, and I finally feel like I'm getting to be a better steward. Bits of carbon in the soil sequester carbon dioxide, which plants need to grow and produce fruit, grain or flowers. Sometime back, I wrote a piece on Biochar for DavesGarden.com. Reading it will give you some background if biochar is unfamiliar to you.
Our nearby land grant university got a grant of several million dollars to build a pyrolysis unit to burn factory (CAFO) chicken house waste into biochar about 3-4 years ago. The problem for me is that the biochar they made was such fine powder that most of it blew away during the demonstration I saw, long before it could be incorporated into the topsoil (even on a day with very little breeze). Plus, it was dirty and nasty to breathe that black dust while it was being applied.