Context Check: Carbon Offsets


Forests eat carbon.


Middle of the Road

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday proposed legislation setting a goal for the United States to plant a trillion trees by 2050 to fight global warming, a plan intended to address climate change by sucking carbon out of the air instead of by cutting emissions.

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Offsets have become a wildly popular — and controversial — way to fight climate change.

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Duncan Clark summarises the offsetting debate in this edited extract from The Rough Guide to Green Living

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Carbon Offsets on Fire

With wildfires raging, are forest carbon offsets still a safe bet?


California’s emissions reduction program is going up in smoke because regulators severely underestimated the impact of climate change-fueled wildfires.

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"They’re risky and difficult to control, which contributes to them burning for longer."


"Eighty-six large forest fires are burning across 12 states. Among the trees they’re torching are ones being used as carbon credits, showing the danger of relying on forests to offset emissions elsewhere."



As businesses in California race to tamp down their emissions by buying carbon offsets, some serious math errors in the program may mean more carbon dioxide—not less—is being added to the atmosphere.

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The NFT space has a ballooning carbon problem. But rather than address emissions head-on, platforms may be turning to at best, self-deception and at worst, greenwashing by relying on carbon offsets.

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The hunger for these offsets is blinding us to the mounting pile of evidence that they haven't — and won't — deliver the climate benefit they promise.


Trees can slow the warming of our planet by taking carbon out of the air, but only if they’re healthy. Hotter, longer summers could soon be weakening trees beyond repair, devastating whole forests and turning them into sources of carbon.


Avoided emissions seem like a (well-intentioned?) shell game


Investigation into Verra carbon standard finds most are ‘phantom credits’ and may worsen global heating

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Carbon Footprints

“This is one of the most successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever.”