Pay attention, folks. I am about to teach you the difference between science and propaganda.
The entire climate change campaign was, and remains, a scam designed to enrich the world's elite while impoverishing you and I. Here is how it worked:
Someone with access to capital and resources would buy two pieces of property. One to use as a site for a new factory while the other would be a hundred acres or so of timberland. They would then pay an official assessor from the Carbon Exchange to come out and assess both properties. This assessment gave each property a Carbon Footprint, which is a number on a sliding scale somewhere between infinitely negative and infinitely positive. For example, the factory might have a Carbon Footprint of +2000 while the timberland had a Carbon Footprint of -2000.
At this point our heroically green capitalist had a choice: they could accept a Carbon Neutral rating from the Carbon Exchange which won them accolades from Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and other famous climate change personalities, or they could participate in the Carbon Exchange. This was, and even now remains, completely voluntary in the United States because the proposed law requiring Cap and Trade and instituting a Carbon Tax failed. Also, now that the Chicago Carbon Exchange has vanished, this core element of the proposed solution to global warming has become a minor ETF traded on the NYSE.
If our environmentally conscious venture capitalist chose to participate, the -2000 Carbon Footprint for the timberland would be assigned a Carbon Credit value while the +2000 for the factory would be assigned a Carbon Deficit value. At that point the owner of these two properties would go onto the exchange and buy Carbon Credits to overcome the Carbon Deficit of the factory. Since a law requiring participation had never passed, the market was always very small. In many cases the property owner would wind up buying their own Carbon Credit from their own timberland, which in turn resulted in a monetary loss for the factory and revenue gain for the timberland. The factory's loss produced a reduction in taxes for the company while the timberland's gain was protected from taxation through participation in the Carbon Exchange. Once that deal closed, the property owner would then be free to lease the timberland for harvesting, producing a double revenue stream, one from the Carbon Credit sale and one from the harvest lease. In many cases, a really savvy property owner would negotiate a "harvest and maintain" lease with a third-party company such as Weyerhaeuser which enabled this process to automatically repeat itself once a year.
The real purpose behind the proposed Cap and Trade and Carbon Tax legislation was to force both individual homeowners and industrialists into the Carbon Exchange. This is why folks like Leonardo DiCaprio, Carmen Diaz, Rachel Maddow, and all the rest jumped on the climate change bandwagon. They all owned (or went out and purchased) land that had a negative Carbon Footprint. If the legislation had passed, forcing you and I into the Carbon Exchange to buy Carbon Credits to offset our homes, our appliances, our vehicles, and everything else, (either buy the credits or pay the tax), then the monetary value of the Carbon Credits owned by the celebrities would have risen exponentially, forcing money out of our pockets and into theirs.
This worked even better for people who invested in farmland because it also gave them access to agricultural subsidies. To collect those subsidies the investor would fill out a form with the USDA promising not to grow a particular crop (usually a special variety of wheat, corn, rice, or soybeans) which had produced a glut in the market and collapsed prices. In return for promising not to grow that crop, the government would give them a check to both cover the expected loss and purchase seed for a crop that was considered underfarmed and in demand. Instead of leasing the property out to a company like Weyerhaeuser, the property would be leased to a large commercial farmer supplying a particular market such as cereal makers, bread makers, or pet food makers. Naturally, the lease included prohibitions against growing whatever crop the landowner had received a USDA subsidy to not plant, and any other restrictions necessary to insure whatever crop the leasee did grow conformed to the requirements of the Carbon Exchange (usually non-GMO and organic). The property owner now had multiple revenue streams coming in from the same piece of land including: carbon credit sales, lease fees, USDA subsidies, and a percentage of the amount the crop sold for if the farmer succeeded (usually 5% or 7%). Naturally, since this property was being used as a "carbon bank" because it was granted a negative flow Carbon Footprint, all of these revenue streams were protected from taxation.
Had everything actually gone according to plan, over time the total amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants would never have changed. In fact, as more and more people participated in the Carbon Exchange as speculators, investors, landowners seeking supplemental incomes, and so on, the amount of pollutants would probably have increased as Carbon Deficit industries and businesses split their investments between Carbon Credit holdings and Carbon Deficit holdings. Nonetheless, as each new carbon bank type property came online the people behind the scam would have gleefully deducted the amount from the National Carbon Footprint and proclaimed that they had saved the world from certain disaster.
Republican opposition to the proposed Cap and Trade/Carbon Tax legislation destroyed this scam just as it was getting off the ground. As a result, the Chicago Carbon Exchange could not cover its operating costs and was forced to close. For those idealists who want to drive expensive cars, own massive yachts, and fly around on private jets, but who feel guilty for the damage they are doing, the Intercontinental Exchange sponsors an Carbon Offset ETF on the NYSE. If you are often flying between the United States and some country that demands you offset your carbon production (such as Canada, Australia, or Germany), then you can use the ICE Carbon Offset Registry to gain significant tax savings in those countries.
Sadly, the entire anthropocentric climate change debate (AGW), including most of the "scholarly" research that loudly proclaimed we were all doomed if world governments did not take immediate action, has been driven by a small number of very wealthy individuals seeking to maximize their ability to add additional revenue streams to low-yield, long term investments in timberland and farmland. In anticipation of the legislation passing, Hollywood celebrities by the dozens gleefully went out and invested in hunting lodges, woodland cabin vacation properties, and other forest, grassland, or marshy real estate they could list as "carbon banks". Athletes, for some reason, seemed to prefer investment in farmlands. In an effort to preserve their image with fans and followers, many of them have retained these properties and are still clamoring for Cap and Trade/Carbon Tax legislation to save the planet from global warming. Federal bureaucrats who favor the opinions of these very famous advocates, focus grant money on research that will confirm or reinforce global warming while denying grants to anyone who dares to question the "reality" of anthropocentric global warming. These investors don't sell it that way, of course. They clamor on about saving the planet and helping indigent farmers in Africa, but the reality is, they are only looking for a way to line their pockets with your money.
Wikipedia: Chicago Climate Exchange
Intercontinental Exchange: Carbon Offsets Registry
Fox News (November 9, 2010): Collapse of CCX Means Strategy Shift on AGW Curbs
New York Times (January 3, 2011): CCX Closing Ends Nation's First Cap and Trade System