Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    “Study Finds Major Flaws in Environmental Projects Offset Greenhouse Gas Emissions”

    A new analysis has revealed that the majority of environmental projects used to offset greenhouse gas emissions may be fundamentally flawed and unreliable in reducing planet-heating emissions. The voluntary carbon trading industry, valued in the multibillions of dollars, has gained popularity among governments, organizations, and corporations as a means of claiming to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint. However, mounting evidence suggests that many offset schemes overstate their climate benefits and underestimate potential harms.

    In a joint investigation conducted by The Guardian and Corporate Accountability, the top 50 emission offset projects were analyzed. The findings were concerning, with 78% of these projects categorized as likely junk or worthless due to fundamental failings that undermine their promised emission cuts. Another 16% of projects were labeled as potentially junk, and only 6% were deemed inconclusive due to insufficient public, independent information.

    The $1.16 billion worth of carbon credits traded from projects classified as likely junk or worthless, and an additional $400 million of potentially junk credits, raise concerns about the reliability and accuracy of the voluntary carbon market. These projects include forestry schemes, hydroelectric dams, solar and wind farms, waste disposal, and greener household appliances initiatives across mainly developing countries.

    The investigation classified projects as likely junk if they showed evidence of being unable to guarantee additional, permanent greenhouse gas cuts, posed a high risk of emissions leakage, or appeared to exaggerate climate benefits. The aim was to identify projects that truly contribute to reducing carbon emissions and not simply exploit the voluntary carbon market for financial gain.

    This study’s revelations add to the growing skepticism surrounding market-driven solutions to the climate crisis. Non-industry experts argue for a swift transition away from fossil fuels, rather than relying on flawed carbon offset projects. Carbon credits must be tied to new and permanent emissions-reducing activities to be effective, without causing collateral damage to the environment or local communities.

    The investigation used a classification system based on public and private sources, including academic studies, civil society research, offset project certifiers, private sector databases, and media investigations. The grading of each project considered the strength and rigorousness of available evidence, solely focusing on whether the projects could deliver the promised emission reductions.

    These findings serve as a stark reminder that a critical reevaluation of the voluntary carbon market is needed to ensure genuine and effective action in mitigating global heating. The focus should be on projects that can deliver measurable and additional emission cuts while avoiding harm to the environment or local communities.

    – The Guardian and Corporate Accountability investigation
    – AlliedOffsets emissions trading database