Carbon credits to save rainforests not currently fit for purpose

In the last few months I have read 3 articles from the Guardian (one of the few UK “broadsheets” which put a significant amount of money into its environmental journalism (I would argue that this is concerning, given the large number of threats that are currently future problems for humanity).

The carbon credits idea is incredibly simple. By paying for a rainforest to not get cut down, or something similar, you cancel a load of carbon emissions somewhere else, thereby offsetting your emissions
  • Carbon offsets are flawed but we are now in a climate emergency

While carbon credits can raise funds that help secure the future of rainforests, they have not had a good history of success. Forests around the world store roughly 400 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, given that the atmosphere is thought to contain about 3200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, an increase of over 10% would be devastating. To put it in perspective, our current language defines a carbon bomb, as something that would release 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the the atmosphere. It is thought that 10 would be enough to trigger significant differences in our weather systems. 400 would be devastating.

  • Revealed: more than 90% of rainfores carbon offests by biggest certifier are worthless analysis shows

This is of great concern, as carbon credits are one of the few ways that we have found, which allow polluters the ability to offset some of the damage by paying those who are carbon negative (like rainforest hosting countries) to offset some of their carbon. Verra is the current biggest certifier, yet recent research has shown that 90% of their credits are “phantom credits” and so completely worthless. This is not surprising, as standing rainforest does not absorb lots of carbon (it absorbs while it grows). One simple example is if an area of rainforest is set for clearing, but it is then saved by an offset company, all the carbon dioxide held in the trees in reduced emissions. However, if the same area of trees was never threatened by clearance, then it does not. One of the findings of the study found that the threat to forests had been overstated by about 400% on average for Verra projects.

  • Biggest carbon credit certifier to replace its rainforest offsets scheme

As a result of the study talked about above Verra is replacing its rainforest offset scheme, and should be fully replaced by the end of 2025. Used by well known companies like Disney shell and Gucci, even airlines like easyjet, If you are claiming credits for forest that you saved which was not going to be cut down anyway, then it is worth nothing.

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