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Carbon offsetting does not prevent environmental collapse, it accelerates it | George Monbiot
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Carbon offsetting does not prevent environmental collapse, it accelerates it | George Monbiot

Nothing can be corrupted and nothing good cannot be made into something bad. The great climate land grab is a clear example.

We now know it is not enough just to decarbonise our economies and leave fossil fuels in place. It’s too late. We must also reduce carbon emissions to keep the heat from rising above 1.5C. Already in the atmosphere.

They are by far the most efficient. Nature-based solutions: Using the restoration and preservation of living systems, such as forests, salt marshes or the seafloor, to extract carbon dioxide from air and lock it up, usually in trees or waterlogged soil and/or mud. Three years ago, a small group of people launched the Natural Climate Solutions campaignTo bring attention to the enormous potential for stalling climate collapse and a sixth mass disappearance through the mass revivals of ecosystems.

It is difficult to see how climate change or ecological catastrophe can be prevented without large-scale rewilding. However, we cautioned that it shouldn’t be used as an alternative to decarbonising economic life or to allow corporations offset greenhouse gases that shouldnt have been produced. We had to cut many partner organizations due to their deals with offset businesses.

But our warnings, as well as those of many others, are not enough. OthersUnheeded. Trading in carbon credits has become a corporate gold rush. This is something that should be a powerful force for good. A carbon credit is one tonne of greenhouse gasses that have been deemed to be avoided or removed from our atmosphere. These carbon credits have been created over the last few months. These credits are in high demand..

Two legitimate uses of nature-based strategies are to remove historic carbon from the atmosphere and to counteract a small residual of unavoidable emission once the rest of society has decarbonized. They are now being widely used as an option to more effective action. Instead of committing to leaving fossil fuels in the ground oil and gas companies continue to search for new resources while claiming that the credit they purchase has made them carbon neutral.

Shells, for example. Drive Carbon Neutral Shells global portfolio is made up of nature-based solutions projects that can offset the unavoidable emissions of their vehicles fleets. Customers are assured that they don’t have to change their work habits by joining the program. The country has rejected similar claims made by Shell in the Netherlands. Advertising watchdog.

Total, a French company, is looking to develop new oilfields off the coast of Suriname and Congo. It sought to justify these projects by using nature-based solutions in Suriname Giving money to the governmentFor the protection of existing forests and in Congo PlantingAn area of savannah that is home to fast-growing trees.

This project is controversial. If drilling proceeds, it will open up a region of very rich forests and wetlands This is the top of the largest peat deposits in the tropicsThis could potentially threaten a large natural carbon store. The company is interested in converting the rare savannah habitat into plantations to produce wood and biomass. Ecologists have rarely explored the areas.. It is likely to have a wider range of life than exotic trees that the oil company wants to plant. It is also Most likely to belong to localsHowever, Totals didn’t mention their customary rights which are not recognized by Congolese law. Press releaseAbout the deal. The offset project could, in other words, not compensate for the oil drilling damage but may even compound it.

These are not the only problems. In all these cases, a stable bank of carbon from fossil fuels is being swapped for less safe stores: habitats at the Earth’s surface. Last year, forests were used as corporate offsets They were incineratedBy the wildfires raging throughout North America. It can also be difficult to prove that offset funds have made a significant difference in certain cases. Two of Shells’ projects are an example.Have been criticisedThey claim that the forests they are defending may not be at threat. These schemes often rely heavily on untested counterfactuals. What if this money hadn’t been spent.

While there are international standards that define how carbon should count, there is no accounting for carbon offsets. They are false assurances that convince us we don’t have to change the way we live. It is not possible to account for how companies use these projects in order to continue doing business as usual. It is not possible to account for the greenwashing they use to convince governments not to regulate them. We should be able to avoid a systemic environmental crisis by using nature-based solutions. Instead, they accelerate it.

There is also the small matter of land. There is simply not enough land to absorb corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Oxfam estimatesBusinesses could need to use five times as much land to meet carbon reduction plans than India, which is five times more than all the farmland on Earth. It is often owned by indigenous and other local people who have not consented to it. This process has a name. Carbon colonialism.

The government of Sabah, Malaysia announced a carbon credit agreement with foreign corporations during the Cop26 climate summit last November. It covers an amazing 2m hectares (5ma) of forest. Indigenous people claim they didn’t know anything about it.

Shell spends 5m in ScotlandThe Glengarry Forest should be extended. Scotland needs more trees but also needs better land distribution. Big corporations and financiers are the best. This market is a great place to investPrices for land are RisingSo fast that some local people who would like to start their own rewilding or reforestation projects are being shut out.

Better would be to spend money strengthening the land rights and indigenous peoples.They tend to be the most effective guardiansThe carbon they contain is a result of ecosystems. Communities that don’t own land should be able to purchase it back and restore the habitats. These projects should not be compared to the fossil fuels we should keep in the ground.

Yes, it is necessary to restore life on Earth. Yes, carbon must be reduced as much as possible. We cannot allow this important tool to be used against us.

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