But George already was working on another plan: to plant millions of trees in rural Hungary and sell the carbon dioxide those trees could be expected to absorb.
He formed a Hungarian company, KlimaFa – “Climate Trees.” His publicity strategy: Present the Vatican with carbon offsets to make the Holy See carbon neutral based on the trees he’d plant. The photo of George handing Cardinal Paul Poupard the offset certificates at the Vatican on July 5, 2007, went worldwide.
In the glow of that publicity coup, George offered offsets for sale on his Planktos website. There are no public records of how much he sold. But with the growing outcry over the sea-seeding scheme, Planktos abruptly closed in December 2007.
KlimaFa – and the Vatican’s still unfulfilled offsets – were left in the hands of a Budapest partner, David Gazdag. He blogged a few times about the project, occasionally stopped by government offices to talk, but planted no trees.
“This is a problem,” Gyorgy Dallos, a World Wildlife Federation official, said in Budapest. Carbon offsets create “false hope” if they’re not real. The Vatican’s emissions, he noted, are not neutralized.