The Guardian view on carbon offsetting: a model with dangerous flaws

(The Guardian, 26 Jan 2023) Protecting nature requires financial incentives. Serious problems uncovered in carbon markets must be fixed.

The strong reaction to the Guardian’s joint investigation into carbon offsetting shows how much is at stake when the effectiveness of market mechanisms in combating global heating is challenged. Already, in Australia, politicians and scientists have renewed their criticism of public entities using international carbon credit schemes to offset local emissions. Verra, the Washington-based non-profit at the centre of the story, is the world’s leading carbon standard, certifying the credits that companies use to make claims about their environmental impact. It is a blow to anyone committed to the idea that emissions trading can help the world to reach net zero, to learn that 90% of the rainforest credits analysed are unlikely to represent genuine carbon reductions.

The problem, which was uncovered by journalists working alongside experts using satellite images, is the methodology used by Verra to certify its credits. While Verra disputes the findings, and is due to publish its own assessment, the researchers found that the evidence used to calculate offsets was flawed. Predictions of what would have happened in the absence of credits were unreliable, and benefits were overstated.

External link

The Guardian, 26 Jan 2023: The Guardian view on carbon offsetting: a model with dangerous flaws