A recent study conducted by the UC Berkeley Carbon Trading Project, with the support of Carbon Market Watch, has revealed that approximately 25% of carbon offset projects are not suitable for CO2 reduction. The study specifically focused on rainforest carbon credits certified by Verra, a leading authority on carbon offsetting.
Researchers analyzed rainforest carbon offset projects, commonly referred to as REDD+ projects, and came to the alarming conclusion that not only do these projects fail to effectively reduce carbon emissions, but they also contribute to the displacement and dispossession of vulnerable communities.
These projects, also known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), offer monetary assistance to governments, entities, local communities, and individuals to safeguard forests, especially those in the Global South, and boost the amount of carbon stored in these tropical areas.
The quality aspects of Verra’s rainforest carbon credit systems, such as their longevity, forest carbon measurement, community protection, and prevention of deforestation leakage and baseline, were examined by the research team. They discovered deficiencies in all five categories. Furthermore, they criticized the auditors responsible for verifying and upholding Verra’s standards as being inadequate in enforcing compliance with these standards.
According to the study, REDD+ carbon offset projects do not aim to tackle the primary causes of deforestation, which are influential and profitable activities such as large-scale agriculture, cattle farming, logging, and mining.
The authors of the study argue that the main beneficiaries of these projects are the developers, buyers of credits, and auditors, who view them as mere formalities. In contrast, the local communities residing in rainforests face greater risk as certain projects fail to protect their interests.
This study casts doubt on the effectiveness and integrity of carbon offset projects , highlighting the urgent need for more comprehensive assessments and regulation in this area. The findings also serve as a reminder that continuous evaluation and scrutiny are necessary to achieve meaningful results in the fight against climate change.