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Carbon offsets: Using the green cloak of 'certification' to sell

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David Antonioli, chief executive officer of the VCS Association, which is based in Washington, D.C., says the organization has contacted one company that has claimed association with VCS for projects in Indonesia, China, and India yet was not registered with the monitoring body. "It's not too common," he says, but adds, "We are starting to hear this.… We're starting to keep track of it."

The market's integrity is at stake, he says.

At Silva Tree, officials and employees contradict one another about the status of VCS certification of the project.

A salesman who calls – from London – a few hours after one downloads a brochure from the Silva Tree website, says the carbon offsets generated by these trees are "absolutely" approved by the certifier (VCS): "We have it on our website."

They do. But, conceded Keren Katz, director of Silva Tree's London office in a February phone interview, "It is not VCS certified. If it's [in our brochure] it shouldn't be." In April the claims remained in their brochure and phone sales pitches were still claiming VCS verification.

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