The majority of the CO2 certificates from the rainforest “are worthless”, say the media

The majority of the CO2 certificates from the rainforest “are worthless”, say the media

According to a media analysis by The Guardian and Die Zeit on Wednesday, “more than 90%” of carbon credits related to reforestation projects certified by Verra, one of the reference standards for this fast-growing market, are “worth nothing”.

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Businesses can buy carbon credits or certificates to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, for example by funding reforestation projects or protecting against deforestation as trees naturally absorb carbon from the air. In fact, it is the main way large companies claim to be carbon neutral despite their activities generating carbon.

But nearly all of Verra’s credits are “likely” “phantom credits” and “do not represent actual emissions reductions,” according to The Guardian.

The British daily conducted the investigation with the German newspaper Die Zeit and the investigative NGO SourceMaterial on the basis of several scientific publications.

Verra, the world’s largest emissions certification body, responded on its website that the studies the media relied on contained “massive miscalculations.”

The Washington-based NGO adds that the sale of carbon credits has diverted “billions of dollars” into “climate action” and “protecting and restoring ecosystems.”

In order to generate a “CO2 credit”, it is necessary, for example, that part of the tropical forest threatened by deforestation is ultimately not deforested, for example thanks to fences.

The forest area “saved” in this way corresponds to a certain amount of carbon that can still be absorbed by the trees. Businesses can then purchase credits equal to these absorbed amounts of CO2 to offset their own climate impact through a simple financial transaction.

Verra and others are meant to reassure companies that the projects they fund by buying carbon credits are real, but questions of methodology have haunted the field since its inception.

The Guardian and Die Zeit analysis identified “evidence of reduced deforestation” for “just a handful” of Verra’s projects.

Overall, “94 percent of the credits” associated with projects in tropical forests “have no positive impact on the climate,” according to The Guardian, which relies in particular on a study by the University of Cambridge.

Verra claims to have “recently” reviewed its calculation methods and states that it is in the process of standardizing its methodology.