Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department


Reader 1

Branwen Williams

Reader 2

John Pitney

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Within California’s cap-and-trade program, forest offsets allow landowners to earn carbon credits for protecting forests that sequester carbon and sell these credits to polluters that can then emit one additional ton of carbon. The state’s top regulator, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is tasked with overseeing cap-and-trade and the forest offset system. CARB is currently updating the state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan to set California on track to achieve its 2030 climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels. CARB is approving forest offsets that overestimate emissions reductions, while allowing companies to continue polluting in disadvantaged communities across the state. The forest offset guidelines contain loopholes that allow project developers to maximize carbon credits by taking advantage of statistical differences between regions, submitting hypothetical heavy logging proposals for forests that were already protected, and contributing low amounts to destruction insurance. Even a perfect forest offset system, devoid of these existing flaws, delivers net neutral benefits to the climate because emissions produced are matched 1:1 with emissions reductions through increased carbon sequestration in forests.