by Rob Lyons
December 10, 2020
Lyons is a UK journalist specializing in science,
environmental and health issues.
is the author of 'Panic on a Plate: How Society
Developed an Eating Disorder'.
Zagreb, Croatia, June 9, 2020
© REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
Corporations spend millions on 'preserving' forests so as to carry
on polluting and pretend they're green & carbon-neutral.
The reality is the
only thing being 'offset' is facing up to the awful realities of
a Net Zero agenda...
For those who want to
make themselves feel better about the greenhouse gas emissions
they create, carbon offsets have long been the easy
If you're flying off
on holiday, just tick a box and all that guilt is assuaged for a
The money will go to
planting some trees, protecting a forest or saving
If you're a big corporation spewing out emissions on, well, an
industrial scale, chuck a few million to environmental groups
who conserve trees, and on you go on the pollution
If this all seems too
good to be true, you're right:
This 'offsetting' is far
easier than facing up to the reality of emissions cutting:
doing less, going
without, investing in more energy-efficient means of production.
The rich can simply
buy their way out of it in the corporate equivalent of the
Catholic confessional, a pay-to-sin system...
Big companies get to
virtue signal while carrying on as before, and little, if
anything, is actually offset.
new article by
Ben Elgin for Bloomberg Green sets out this deviousness very
He notes how big
spending millions of dollars on preserving forests in the US.
The trouble is, as
Disney, and BlackRock tout these projects as an important
mechanism for slashing their own large carbon footprints.
By funding the preservation of
carbon-absorbing forests, the companies say, they're offsetting
the carbon-producing impact of their global operations.
But in all of those cases, the
land was never threatened; the trees were already part of
That's not to say
that the vast majority of carbon offsets are actually fraudulent,
although some of them fly pretty close to the wind.
As far back as
2002, the UK Advertising Standards Authority
ruled against a company, Future Forests, for misleading
customers that they were paying for new trees to be planted rather
than simply claiming ownership of carbon being absorbed by existing
Other projects fail
because expected emissions' savings failed to appear.
One group in South
Africa was handing out free, low-energy light bulbs to township
residents only to find that the local energy company was doing that
Others bought up EU
emissions permits with the idea of 'retiring' them so that companies
wouldn't be able to emit those greenhouse gases - only to find the
EU issued far too many, allowing companies to carry on regardless.
involved planting trees would often claim the credit for the
emissions absorbed over the entire lifetime of the trees as if this
would happen straight away.
But it should be obvious that a newly
planted sapling will have little capacity to absorb
CO2 in any
significant way for some years.
What offsets have
become is a lucrative way of environmental organizations making
businesses burnish their right-on eco-credentials by pointing to the
offsets as proof that they are working to protect the environment.
In his article,
Elgin gives attention to one environmental organization in
have jumped into this growing market with as much zeal as the
Nature Conservancy, which was founded 69 years ago by a small
group of ecologists seeking to preserve the last unspoiled lands
in the U.S.
In the seven decades since, the
nonprofit in Arlington, Va., has grown into an environmental
juggernaut, protecting more than 125 million acres.
Last year, its revenue was $932
million, which eclipsed the combined budgets of the country's
next three largest environmental nonprofits."
Elgin argues that
Nature Conservancy has sold offsets to corporations like JP Morgan
Chase on the basis of the emissions saved if the forests concerned
are protected from being felled by aggressive logging.
But, to give one
example, in Hawk Mountain, a wild bird sanctuary in Pennsylvania,
the forests were already protected and there was never any prospect
of them being cut down.
There have long
been such criticisms of offsets, particularly from other green
As one article for
big problem with offsets isn't that what they offer is bad -
tree planting or renewable energy and efficiency for poor
communities are all good things - but rather that they don't do
what they say on the tin.
They don't actually cancel out -
er, offset - the emissions to which they are linked."
problem is this:
individuals want to carry on enjoying the benefits of an
industrialized society built on fossil fuels.
With our existing
technology, trying to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions rapidly
is either very inconvenient (if you're rich) or immiserating
(for the rest of us).
Yet governments and
corporations, desperate for a great cause to distract from their
lamentable failures to improve our living standards, have fallen in
with the Net Zero agenda and have proclaimed that they will slash
emissions to "save the planet."
Given the huge cost
and near-impossibility of doing this - other than by simply giving
up the benefits of modern life - the easy way out is to offset those
emissions for a trivial fee or to export the production of goods to
developing countries that haven't made such stupid promises.
Which - again - doesn't offset or cut the world's greenhouse gas emissions...
This is bad faith
because it has been obvious for a long time that emissions have just
kept on rising and offsets really don't do what they claim.
it's bad for
the elites are claiming that emissions cuts will
be painless when they will, in fact, be very costly to society.
It would be far
better if we were presented with the true costs of the wealthy
West's climate-change policies.
Then, instead of
the quixotic race to eliminate emissions, we could eliminate the
political careers of those who promote such nonsense...