What is the difference between a Papal Indulgence and a Carbon Offset? Not much, both can be purchased to assuage guilt. Might as well call one a Sin Offset and the other a Green Indulgence A papal indulgence is a sin offset. You know you are going to commit sins or you have already committed sins and you still want to get into Heaven, so as a good Catholic you purchase a Papal Indulgence. It’s not a blanket Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card because your status is always somewhat in doubt. By purchasing a PI you are asking the Pope to intercede on your behalf.

Buying a carbon offset rather than cutting carbon emissions seems no better than buying a papal indulgence. It’s a shortcut that doesn’t really address the problem. A sinner should well stop sinning. If they want to reduce the amount of sin going on they should 1) lead by example 2) counsel others on their wicked ways. A carbon emitter should reduce carbon emissions first then lead by example and counsel others on how to reduce their carbon emissions. Those acts just might make a difference.