That's the contention of British environmentalists who testified before the Commons environmental audit committee, chaired by Tory Minister of Parliment Tim Yeo.
According to the BBC News,
Jutta Kill, of the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN), was the most vehement opponent of the practice, arguing it probably did more harm than good.
It is very hard to convey to people that when they are buying an offset they are not actually neutralising their impact on the global environment.
Carbon offsetting was "an unbelievably inefficient way of reducing emissions," she argued, and its effects were impossible to verify.
In addition, "More than half" of the money given to companies selling carbon offsets went on research and administration costs, "benefiting not the climate but the burgeoning consultancy industry".
"We believe it is worse than nothing because it creates the illusion, or the impression, in the public that action is being taken, while we are not really addressing the task at hand, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Ms Kill told MPs.
People would be better off making "straightforward donations" to climate projects through established charities.
"This is a serious issue of misleading the public, if you are not telling people that what you are buying is something that is not very viable.
"And those that have set up this offset market are fully aware of this fact," she told the committee.
Guide: Carbon offsets
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