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5 reasons Greenpeace is wrong about carbon credits

Greenpeace is consistently bad-mouthing carbon credits, publishing articles such as ‘Why Relying On Offsets won't Stop Climate Breakdown’ and ‘Why Netzero and Offsets Won’t Solve the Climate Crisis.’ But are their arguments actually valid, or just a form of fear-mongering and clickbait in order to sensationalize their own ideas. Here are 5 reasons why Greenpeace is wrong about carbon offsets. 

The voluntary carbon market enables private investors, governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses to voluntarily purchase carbon offsets to offset their emissions. Companies that are unable to reduce their emissions can purchase carbon offsets from verified suppliers to offset their emissions.

1. A biased outlook on Carbon Credits 

When reading any report or article written by Greenpeace reports, or any organization for that matter, there will be an underlying bias. And unfortunately, this can heavily influence the information reported.

In an article published by The Guardian, Greenpeace reporters have provided their ideas and thoughts on carbon credits, without fully understanding what they are and how carbon offsets provide essential financial support to fund preservation projects. In fact, the information reported was so factually inaccurate, that Verra, called Greenpeace and The Guardian out for publishing factually incorrect and biased articles online (link).

5 reasons Greenpeace is wrong about Carbon Credits-2

2. Greenpeace is giving Carbon Credits a bad name 

According to Greenpeace, without global vigilance around net-zero pledges and offsets, carbon credits could be used to ‘greenwash’ and distract the world from those companies who are not prepared to lose profits to combat the climate crisis. Well, the saying pot calling the kettle black comes to mind here.

Rather than publish information and advice to empower companies to take action, Greenpeace is painting an unnecessary negative and disheartening outlook of their entire system. And this pessimistic opinion is certainly not helping to encourage more businesses to take part and avoid producing CO2 emissions (link).

Individuals and corporations around the world are recognizing the importance of reducing their GHG emissions. As a result, many of them are reducing their carbon footprints through energy efficiency and other measures. Quite often, however, it is not possible for these entities to meet their targets or eliminate their carbon footprint, at least in the near term, with internal reductions alone. They need a flexible mechanism to achieve these aspirational goals and enter the carbon markets.

By using the carbon markets, entities can neutralize, or offset, their emissions by retiring carbon credits generated by projects that are reducing GHG emissions elsewhere. 

3. Carbon Credits are a valid and proactive solution

While it’s all too easy to criticize carbon offsetting, you can’t deny that this is a real-world solution to the problem, which is being widely accepted on a voluntary basis, across most industries. While of course, a more dramatic and impactful response to deforestation, desertification, and regional climate change would yield better results, asking for such a significant response from industries worldwide is just not reasonable. Does Greenpeace want companies to stop altogether?

So, rather than overwhelm industries and face instant rejection and cause unprecedented disruption, governments are taking a softer approach, which has been welcomed by businesses and leads to the necessary worldwide ecosystem restoration. Carbon credits have been one of the main drivers behind preventing deforestation and reestablishing ecosystems worldwide.

The world needs a range of measures to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while meeting rising energy demand. They include the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands and wetlands.

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4: Greenpeace has no appreciation of possible implications 

Talking of disruption, should governments listen to Greenpeace and follow their advice, would we be in a better position than what we are now? The only way to decarbonize as fast as Greenpeace would like would be to rapidly reduce production and consumption in the dairy and meat production sectors.

Suppose these sectors slow down, and people stop eating meat and consuming as much dairy. This would mean fewer profits, which would mean job losses across the board. Not to mention the impact on rural communities that rely on these sectors. But Greenpeace does not seem to take this into account when rallying against carbon credits. The cure cannot be more harmful than the disease, right?

5: Greenpeace - Hypocritical behavior 

Greenpeace was quick to criticize EasyJet for claiming it can operate net-zero carbon flights. Their argument was asking customers to pay extra to fly in order to plant trees was not the same as running a carbon-neutral flight.

But, does Greenpeace expect us to give up flying altogether? With 2.4% of global CO2 emissions coming from the aviation industry, it is responsible for around 5% of global warming (link).

But, one of Greenpeace’s most senior executives commutes 250 miles to work by plane. Pascal Husting, Greenpeace International’s program director said he began commuting between Luxembourg and Amsterdam when he started the role in 2012. He made this commute twice a month (link).

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Does Greenpeace want Carbon Credits to fail?

Carbon offsetting on a voluntary basis could be a game-changer, providing funding to projects that avoid and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Yet there is scope to improve the transparency of various carbon crediting mechanisms and a need for standardization of crediting and accounting. This would enhance customer trust in the offsets offered, resulting in higher market volumes and a real, functioning market.

The Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (link) is a private sector-led initiative working to scale an effective and efficient voluntary carbon market to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Taskforce was initiated by Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance; is chaired by Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered; and is sponsored by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) under the leadership of IIF President and CEO, Tim Adams. Annette Nazareth, senior counsel at Davis Polk and former Commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, serves as the Operating Lead for the Taskforce. McKinsey & Company provides knowledge and advisory support (link).

The TSVCM’s over 250 member institutions, represent buyers and sellers of carbon credits, standard setters, the financial sector, market infrastructure providers, civil society, international organizations, and academics. An advisory board of 20 environmental NGOs, investor alliances, academics, and international organizations provides guidance on TSVCM recommendations. All parties involved recognize the importance of the carbon markets.

So at a time when companies, governments, and NGOs all around the world are gathering behind carbon credits and carbon offsets, Greenpeace is spreading distrust. Which makes you think. What is their real motive and why are they wasting energy on trying to dismantle government efforts to reduce carbon emissions? 

 

 

References: 

  1. https://verra.org/verra-response-to-guardian-article-on-carbon-offsets-used-by-major-airlines/
  2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/09/greenpeace-international-carbon-offsetting-net-zero-pledges-climate-change-action/
  3. https://carboncredits.com/the-greenpeace-revolt/
  4. https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/airlines-carbon-offsets-solution-climate-change-wrong/
  5. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200218-climate-change-how-to-cut-your-carbon-emissions-when-flying
  6. https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/green-hypocrisy/

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