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West African countries push for carbon offset inclusion in environmental strategies

A coalition of 10 West African countries is urging the global community to allow carbon offsets as part of corporate efforts to reduce emissions. These nations argue that offsets are essential for attracting funding necessary for climate and conservation initiatives.

West African countries push for carbon offset inclusion in environmental strategies_View through bushes of West African forest_visual 1View through bushes of West African forest. AI generated picture. 

Carbon offsets, which involve investments in projects that reduce or prevent carbon emissions, have been a contentious topic. Critics argue they permit continued greenhouse gas emissions, undermining nature conservation efforts. However, proponents, including these West African countries, see them as a crucial financial tool.

Read more: Era of revolution: groundbreaking carbon market development

In a recent letter to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the leading corporate climate-target verifier, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Togo, emphasised the importance of offsets. They described recent critiques of carbon offsets as misguided and stressed the need for clear guidance from the SBTi.

The letter’s primary author, Ousmane Fall Sarr, noted that uncertainty in the SBTi’s stance on offsets is harming corporate confidence and slowing down climate financing. Sarr highlighted the role of the SBTi in unlocking corporate finance for environmental action alongside decarbonisation efforts.

Read more: Verra proposes revisions to improve afforestation practices

Currently, the SBTi’s guidance permits limited use of renewable energy certificates for reducing Scope 2 emissions but it announced recently that it would expand this to Scope 3 emissions, which involve supply chains and product use. This potential policy shift has been positively received by businesses and developing nations reliant on carbon offset projects.

Despite this, ambiguity remains as the SBTi board has not followed its standard policy-setting procedures. The organisation plans to review scientific research and open a public consultation before finalising its stance.

West African countries emphasise that carbon markets are synonymous with climate finance, underscoring the lack of alternatives. With the OECD estimating that developing nations might need $1 trillion annually for climate investments by 2025, these revenues are vital for supporting vulnerable communities, promoting conservation, and transitioning to clean energy.

Sarr also pointed out that without clarity on offsets, countries might struggle to update their national climate plans, crucial for the upcoming COP29 summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, and COP30 in Brazil.

DGB Group is dedicated to nature-based solutions like reforestation, community-based agroforestry, and sustainable land management, producing carbon units verified by Verra and the Gold Standard. Our projects prioritise restoration in Africa, a region in vital need for these initiatives. Our carbon offset solutions offer organisations a straightforward way to mitigate their environmental footprint while making a positive impact on nature and local communities. Partnering with DGB enables businesses and individuals to progress towards net-zero objectives while restoring natural habitats and promoting a sustainable, greener planet.

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