Verra carbon offsetting called into question

An investigation by The Guardian, Die Zeit and Source Material into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard, has found 90% of rainforest offset credits do not represent genuine fossil fuel reductions. 

The analysis may come as a surprise to many who had previously considered offsetting as a powerful tool in mitigating the impact of climate change. 

green palm plant during daytime

However, successive reports have hit out at these schemes which amount to greenwashing on the part of many companies, which a number of studies also pointing to the alarming prevalence of plantation projects – designed to increase forest cover and therefore also carbon storage capacity – which are not fit for purpose.

According to one investigation, 92% of all these efforts in tropical regions between 2000 and 2012 were found to have planted trees in the wrong locations, causing further damage to delicate ecosystems.

The scientific community has long emphasised that carbon offsets are just one part of a workable net zero strategy. They will not address the climate crisis on their own.“Before offsets enter the conversation, companies should focus on finding specific carbon reductions to their internal processes. The good news is that this is often cost-effective and drives competitive advantages,’ said Mauro Cozzi, CEO and co-founder of carbon accounting platform Emitwise.

An example of this can be seen with companies like HH Global and Pregis – both have shifted to recycled raw materials, reducing shipping emissions, and investing in renewable energy,’ he continued. ‘We’re not saying that offsetting needs to be removed from the world of business – but only high-quality offsetting should be looked at. Fortunately, new players like Pachama and Sylvera are working towards enforcing better standards for offsets.’

A recent study conducted by Software AG pointing to huge disparities between how much money businesses are willing to spend on sustainability initiatives, and how important these credentials are when choosing firms to partner with and receive supplies from. Overall, 82% of those who engaged with this work admitted they would rather pay fines for failing on the green agenda than fund true green initiatives. You can read more about this on our sister title, Environment Journal.

Last year, Air Quality News ran an investigative feature looking at the detrimental impact of for profit and monoculture plantations. Revisit the work here.

Image: Prajwal Vedpathak


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top