Around 80% of carbon offset projects are ‘likely junk’, reveals new data from Corporate Accountability and the Guardian.
Researchers analysed the top 50 emission offset projects and classified a total of 39 (78%) of them as “likely junk” or “worthless” due to one or more fundamental failing that undermines its promised emission cut.
Eight of the 50 have been classified as “problematic” as evidence suggests they have at least one fundamental failing and are potentially junk.
The researchers reported that the remaining three projects couldn’t be determined as there was insufficient public, independent information to adequately assess the quality of the credits and/or accuracy of their claimed climate benefits.
Overall, £937million of carbon credits have been traded so far from the projects classified by the investigation as likely junk or worthless; a further £322 million of credits bought and sold were potentially junk.
In one of the projects the researchers analysed, a giant forest conservation project in Zimbabwe was reported to have had so many exaggerated and inflated claims – and probably shifted emissions elsewhere – that it was described as “having more financial holes than Swiss cheese”.
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The case against carbon offsets continues
These past few months have seen an increasing amount of research highlighting the holes in carbon credits and also brands dropping carbon offsetting from their sustainability strategies.
Last week, new research revealed carbon credits put forest communities at risk and needs to be replaced.
Oil and gas giant Shell also joined Gucci, Leon and Nestlé moving away from offsets.