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Carbon offsets ‘are a scam’

Environmental justice and human rights organisations address global leaders ahead of COP26: ‘carbon offsets don’t stop climate change’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Carbon offsets ‘are a scam’

A broad coalition of over 170 NGOs, advocacy groups and grassroots organisations around the world has released a statement opposing the use of carbon offset programmes, declaring they are false solutions that will not solve the climate crisis.

Carbon offset programmes are increasingly prevalent in corporate and governmental climate change plans.

United States Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) proposed legislation last week to establish a nationwide reforestation effort that would involve the sale of carbon offset credits, while tech company Amazon recently announced its own offset programme in the Amazon rainforest.

‘Offsets are a disaster’

Carbon offsets are expected to be a major point of discussion at the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, and countries and firms are releasing ‘net zero emissions’ commitments in the interim which forgo necessary emissions reductions in favour of offsets.

Policymakers and businesses alike must reject carbon offsets if they are committed to climate justice.

‘Carbon offsets give the worst polluters in the world a free pass to keep polluting and exploiting, so it’s no surprise that offsets are a favourite of corporations and the politicians they’ve bought.

‘Offsets are a disaster for climate justice and Indigenous rights in the Amazon and across the world. As COP26 approaches, we demand immediate emissions drawdown and protection of Indigenous land rights, not market-based delay tactics and deception.’

Climate finance campaigner at Amazon Watch

What’s wrong with carbon offsets?

Environmental and human rights groups across the world are opposed to carbon offset programmes for a number of reasons.

Offsets cannot truly ‘offset’ fossil fuel production: the latest science indicates that offsets cannot keep pace with large-scale carbon emissions.

Offsets perpetuate environmental injustice, allowing polluters to continue poisoning BIPOC and working-class communities.

‘Offsets are nothing short of a scam that corporate interests push, allowing them to continue polluting our climate and frontline communities with impunity. The harm does not end there, as these offset schemes displace indigenous communities and prop-up corporate agriculture and factory farming.

‘Addressing the climate crisis means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, rather than pursuing these scams that harm our communities and climate for nothing other than corporate profits.’

Senior energy policy analyst at Food & Water Watch

Offsets are likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions by allowing polluters to pollute while sequestering carbon in volatile, impermanent reservoirs.

Offsets often result in violations of the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples, as Indigenous lands are increasingly targeted by forest offset project developers.

Offsets undermine sustainable farming and increase consolidation in agriculture, further entrenching factory farms and monoculture at the expense of small farmers, including Black and Indigenous farmers and Tribal Nations.

Offsets markets create conditions for fraud and gambling, prioritising profit-seeking traders and speculators over economic and climate justice.

‘Carbon offsets are a distraction, not a solution. Picture a massive, offshore oil spill. The proper response is to stop the leak at its source. The ‘offset’ solution is to deploy oil-trapping booms and coastal clean-up crews—all while the oil continues to pour into the ocean.’

Environmentalists Against War

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