'Greta Thunberg effect' driving growth in carbon offsetting

(The Guardian, 8 Nov 2019) NGOs report fourfold increases in investments in carbon-reducing projects in developing countries.

Growing concern about the climate crisis and the “Greta Thunberg effect” are driving huge increases in individuals and businesses choosing to offset their emissions by investing in carbon-reducing projects in developing countries.

NGOs and organisations involved in carbon offsetting have seen as much as a fourfold increase in investment from people who want to try to mitigate their carbon footprints.

Agencies who work with large corporations have also seen a spike in investment in carbon offsetting over the last 18 months. ClimateCare, a company that provides programmes to help organisations offset residual carbon emissions, has seen the amount of carbon offset increase from about 2m tonnes to 20m tonnes in that time, according to its chief executive, Edward Hanrahan.

Smaller organisations have also reported massive spikes in offsetting. Caroline Pomeroy, the director of the NGO Climate Stewards, which offsets emissions for individuals and small businesses, said income from individuals offsetting had increased by 156% year on year, and that there had been an 80% increase in income from businesses and charities offsetting.

Offsetting means calculating emissions and then purchasing equivalent “credits” from projects that prevent or remove the emissions of an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases elsewhere. Carbon offsetting has been controversial, with some critics saying it allows big polluters and individuals to buy carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while continuing to fly, drive and use fossil fuels.

But in the past 10 years, highly regulated global carbon and renewable energy markets have been created and participating companies and NGOs are theoretically held to international standards by independent verifiers.

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The Guardian, 8 Nov 2019: 'Greta Thunberg effect' driving growth in carbon offsetting