WWF says ‘Offsets are not a substitute’ as it wades into STBi row

Wildlife charity the WWF has intervened in the debate around whether companies should be allowed to use carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions, saying “offsets cannot be a substitute for reducing emissions”.

The intervention by the wildlife charity – which is a co-founder of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTI) – comes amid a fierce debate around carbon credits, which has caused outrage within the SBTi itself.

The SBTi plans to soften guidance on the use of offsets, with its senior executives saying carbon credits can be an important tool in combating climate change. However, many of its staff disagree and last week called for the firm’s CEO to stand down amid its plans to relax current guidance.

At present, businesses keen to align with the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard can only use offsets to address 10% of their absolute emissions across all scopes.

The WWF has now hit out at the SBTi ‘s proposed changes to allow companies to use carbon credits to cut emissions from their value chains, also known as scope 3.

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The WWF said: ”Offsets cannot be a substitute for reducing emissions from company operations, products, and value chains.

“To support the radical transformation we need to see from companies, WWF has long advocated that carbon offsetting needs to be limited in its application to address a small percentage of residual emissions, be bolstered by increased accountability and pursued as part of a holistic and scientifically defined reduction pathway.”

The charity, however, said it acknowledges “the challenges Scope 3 presents in making progress at the speed the climate crisis requires”.

It added: “Critically, companies with complex value chains need updates to Scope 3 guidance – to provide implementable, solution-oriented mechanisms that focus on prioritizing emission reductions.

“As SBTi continues its work to define Scope 3 guardrails for use of market mechanisms, to be published in July, WWF will continue to call for rigorous science and good governance to underpin all of SBTI’s efforts.

“Updated guidance should also address the very real concerns regarding the poor track record of offsets in delivering real emissions reductions and driving market transformation.”

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