‘No real reductions’ from leading carbon offsetting credits

An investigation by The Guardian, Die Zeit and Source Material into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard, has found many credits awarded to businesses for green efforts do not contribute to lowering fossil fuel emissions.

In an assessment of the true impact of rainforest offset schemes, which are by far the most popular type of offsetting companies engage with, 90% did not actually represent any genuine reduction in fossil fuel pollution.

palm leaf covering shade of sun

This isn’t the first time a report has hit out at the idea of carbon offsetting, not to mention carbon offsetting forming the focal point for policies linked to net zero and carbon neutrality. Many plantation based initiatives, where trees are planted in a bid to increase an area’s natural carbon storage capacity, have been identified as ineffective, often because the locations of such projects are unsuitable for their intended purpose. 

Elsewhere, monoculture plantations are known to cause significant damage to natural, varied ecosystems, particularly when using ‘thirsty’ species of floral. These drain the land of water at a faster rate than indigenous species, leaving the latter to slowly die. Our sister title, Air Quality News, ran an in-depth investigation into this last year, which you can find here.

The scientific community has long emphasised that carbon offsets are just one part of a workable net zero strategy. They will not address the climate crisis on their own.“Before offsets enter the conversation, companies should focus on finding specific carbon reductions to their internal processes. The good news is that this is often cost-effective and drives competitive advantages,’ said Mauro Cozzi, CEO and co-founder of carbon accounting platform Emitwise.

An example of this can be seen with companies like HH Global and Pregis – both have shifted to recycled raw materials, reducing shipping emissions, and investing in renewable energy,’ he continued. ‘We’re not saying that offsetting needs to be removed from the world of business – but only high-quality offsetting should be looked at. Fortunately, new players like Pachama and Sylvera are working towards enforcing better standards for offsets.’

Image: Syd Sujuaan


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