Climate warning

Tabitha Kimani

17 w


Climate warning

Carbon offsetting just a 'delaying tactic' and 'worthless' Exeter experts say.

Experts at the University of Exeter have branded carbon offsetting a ‘delaying tactic which provides a fraction of the value of permanent carbon removal’. Researchers from the University of Exeter offered their views on carbon offsetting, following the investigation into Verra carbon standard that found more than 90 per cent of rainforest carbon offsets are worthless.
Professor Steffen Boehm, Professor in Organization and Sustainability at the University of Exeter, said: "The findings are not surprising for academics – like myself – who have worked on analyzing the carbon offsetting industry for the past 20 years.
"The chief problem is that these voluntary offset markets are entirely self-controlled by the industry. There is no proper governance system in place that can verify the carbon reduction claims made. Many experts have said for years that governments and international policy-makers need to be able to oversee the voluntary carbon markets. This supervisory role needs to not only focus on the carbon reduction claims but also the social implications of establishing carbon offsetting projects. As this investigation shows, many people have been forced off their land in order to make space for carbon credit projects.
"As my 2014 paper argues, there are many more issues with carbon markets that should not be forgotten. For example, there is a lot of evidence for corruption, and in many cases these offsetting projects act as direct or indirect subsidies to business-as-usual, i.e. those carbon-intensive industries that cannot or do not want to change their destructive practices. Overall, the evidence suggests that carbon markets and offsetting approaches are a delaying tactic. Even though they have been around for two decades, they have not been able to flatten the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions. Worse, they have contributed to the prolonging of business-as-usual. They are a failed approach. We need to urgently look elsewhere to start tackling climate change properly."
Professor Ben Groom, Dragon Capital Chair in Biodiversity Economics at the University of Exeter, said: "The empirical evidence suggests that nature-based carbon offsets are often impermanent, sometimes fail or are non-additional (the project would have happened without carbon crediting), and poor performance stems from poor monitoring, enforcement and accountability, both on the ground and at the point of purchase.
"Nevertheless, the evidence does not mean that we should consider temporary or partial removal of carbon as having no value to society, rather that it provides a fraction of the value of permanent removal. It is clear that REDD+ and offsets have potential to help hit net zero. What is a required is oversight and quality control, but also a clear means of valuing the contribution of delayed and risky emissions reductions.
"Work at the University of Exeter's LEEP institute takes on this valuation challenge and shows that multiple tons of risky and impermanent offsets are required to be equivalent to a permanent removal of carbon."

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Carbon offsetting just a 'delaying tactic' and 'worthless' Exeter experts say

Poor performance stems from poor monitoring, enforcement and accountability

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  • Peter Kamau

    17 w

    There's so much truth in this and it's absurd that we could be blinded by companies involved in this sinister act yet we pledge loyalty to them as they thrive without caution of the impact they've got on mother nature.

    • Tabitha Kimani

      17 w

      @peter_kamau carbon offsets is not a solution. They should be transitioning.

    • winnie nguru

      17 w

      It's not right to dispute carbon offset projects and term them as "delay tactics" even though some companies might be doing so. My opinion would be to erect coherent watchdog to oversee any carbon offset project in a bid to avoid any greenwashing disguised in such projects.

      • CarbonPath

        17 w

        It is true that natural based solutions have a limited time, but does not imply that they are a worthwhile endeavor. The Professor takes it as a given that if there were no offsets available that industry would immediately comply and reconfigure all operations to reduce their footprint. However, almost the entirety of everyone's footprint originates from hydrocarbons used to power and emitted though farming. There are no international laws requiring a reduction in hydrocarbon use, and if one was attempted some countries would use it as an advantage to using cheaper fuels and thus would become the global supplier. Therefore, if there were no offsets available corporate emitters would not make lofty climate pledges as there are no alternatives. For example, airlines have almost no room to reduce their carbon emissions for the foreseeable future. That is 10% of all hydrocarbon emissions. Others can reduce emissions, but it takes significant amounts of capital, and managers report to their shareholders, which are not universally aligned with the Paris accord. Pick any company and look at their real alternatives to reduce their footprint using free cash flow and available technology. Offsets can be a bridge and help ween the world off of hydrocarbons, preserve valuable rainforests and maintain biodiversity, and help empower marginalized communities. That is worth something.

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