United Nations realising that carbon offsets do not work to genuinely reduce atmospheric CO2
The United Nations is aware that parts of the organisation are not convinced about carbon offsets, a strategy the UN and its ICAO has supported for two decades. The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are often ineffective. Rules on global carbon offsets remain contentious and often debated at UN climate talks. Offsets encourage the misapprehension that people can continue to lead high carbon lifestyles, and get away with a clear conscience, as long as some effort is made to “offset” the carbon. The organisation ProPublica published a study into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings. Offsets just permit “business as usual” and postpone the date when any real action might be taken. If trees are planted in poor, hot countries which are suffering unpredictable impacts of climate breakdown, they are likely not to survive. How can the intact forest provide income and livelihoods for local people, if trees are not cut down? Even if the trees do survive for decades, the carbon they have stored is later released back to the atmosphere. Perhaps in time of our grandchildren. Forests are not permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
United Nations Agency Criticizes Carbon Offsets
The UN Environment Programme is now criticizing a strategy it had supported for two decades.
BY Lisa Song, ProPublica
June 15, 2019
The United Nations drew attention this week for an article published by its environment program that criticized carbon offsets, a strategy the UN has supported for two decades. The headline: “Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail free card.”
The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are problematic. As Climate Home News reported, UN Climate Change released a video in August titled “keep calm and offset,” which “appeared to suggest that viewers could lead a carbon-heavy lifestyle as long as they offset their emissions. It was taken down after a backlash.”
Rules governing global carbon offsets remain contentious and are consistently debated at UN climate talks. They will be discussed at coming talks in Bonn, Germany, starting next week.
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“The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close. Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.”
UN Environment article critical of carbon offsetting taken down, then republished – but criticism watered down
“UN Environment” published, then retracted, an article criticising the use of carbon credits to make up for carbon-emitting activities. It published an unusually stark critique of carbon offsetting on 10th June (been archived); on 11th the article was taken down, following queries by Climate Home News. In the original article a climate specialist at the UN organisation warned against considering carbon offsets as “our get-out-jail-free card”. He said: “The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close. Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.” Asked about this he said it was a web story not an official position paper, and that UN Environment does see offsets as an intermediate solution. The revised article on the 12th removed the comment above, saying instead that buying carbon credits is “being challenged by people concerned about climate change.” The paragraph in the earlier version saying: “Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis” was removed in the later version. Carbon offsets are the way the aviation sector intends to carry on increasing its carbon emissions. The earlier article showed how inadequate that would be.