Study finds the leading corporate strategy to combat climate change is ‘hot air’

A new study finds that the popular way to reduce carbon emissions may be nothing more than “hot air”.

In past years, financial markets have been increasingly active in “voluntary carbon offsets”, projects that ostensibly capture greenhouse-gas emissions – or prevent them from being released into the atmosphere.

One of the leading forms of offsets – used by many leading companies – is Forest Carbon Offsets.

Under such programmes, companies support forests that absorb as much carbon as the companies produce as they grow – at least in theory.

the A study published Thursday In Science provides strong evidence that theory falls short of practice.

“Carbon credits provide major polluters with some semblance of climate dependence,” co-author Andreas Contilion of the University of Cambridge said in a statement.

But he noted that the international team found “claims of saving vast areas of forest from chainsaws to offset emissions are exaggerated”.

The scientists reviewed 18 projects in five tropical forest countries – Tanzania, Peru, Colombia, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – all of which were described as offering the highest level of carbon offsets.

The credits were bets, Contillion said: If a polluting company (or individual) had not spent the forest carbon project, the forest would have been destroyed.

“These carbon balances basically predict whether someone will cut down a tree, and they propagate that prediction,” Kontoleone said.

He added that if offset sellers exaggerate or get it wrong, intentionally or not, they sell hot air.

The team compared these 18 sites with similar but unprotected sites around the world. If these locations were cleared, but the protected offset derivation locations were not, they assumed it would show that those dependencies are valid.

But that was not what they found. Of the 89 million offset credits generated by these “schemes”, about 94 percent came from products that achieved less than the developers claimed in reducing deforestation – meaning the offsets did not offset as much carbon as the vendors claimed.

And 68% of credits – more than two-thirds – were generated by projects that hardly reduced deforestation at all.

“Carbon credits provide major polluters with some semblance of climate dependence. However, we can see that claims about saving vast areas of forest from chainsaw to offset emissions are exaggerated.

Delta is facing a class action lawsuit that says its marketing as “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline” – a claim based on its purchase of forest carbon offsets – is incorrect. “clearly and consistently false.”

The lawsuit follows an investigation by several European newspapers in January, which found that at least 90 percent of carbon offsets in forests were claimed by leading certification firm Vera. Nothing was done to avoid deforestation. Vera did questioned the results of the investigation.

And in March, Bloomberg reported that a leading offset company was facing allegations that it had also faced these charges. It exaggerated its carbon saving claims.

Science researchers argue that these errors are not accidental, but rather reflect a structural problem related to displacements.

“There are perverse incentives to generate huge numbers of carbon credits, and at the moment the market is basically unregulated,” Kontoleone said.

“Monitoring agencies are being set up, but many of the participants are also linked to carbon credit accreditation agencies – so they will do their homework themselves,” he added.

The researchers identified three other sources of error: offset selling companies may choose to locate in areas where conservation is most likely to succeed; they may rely on misleading historical trends; Or their long-term metrics may not be able to capture the sudden change in the rate of deforestation.

But in all cases, Contillion said, “the industry needs to work to close loopholes that might allow ill-intentioned actors to exploit offset markets” if it is to become a trusted market.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. all rights are save. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button