Carbon Market Watch, End UN carbon offset scheme

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Barro Blanco
European Commission publishes new study on Clean Development Mechanism — the study finds that 73 percent of potential offsets to be issued under the scheme between 2013 and 2020 are worthless. Photo of Barro Blanco — a carbon credit supported project — by CIEL.

New study adds urgency to end
UN carbon offsetting scheme

by Carbon Market Watch

The European Commission has released a new study showing major flaws in carbon offsets from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As countries flesh out the rules to implement the Paris Agreement, Carbon Market Watch calls for an end to the scheme, and a shift away from offsetting as a climate policy approach.

The Commission’s study, carried out by the Öko-Institut, finds that 85 percent of projects covered in the analysis and 73 percent of the potential supply of CDM credits from 2013 to 2020 are unlikely to deliver “real, measurable and additional” emission reductions. If these carbon credits were to be used, this could lead to an increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions of over 3.5 billion tons of CO2 from 2013 to 2020 alone, equivalent to almost two years of emissions in the EU Emissions Trading System.

Flaws in offsetting

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows manifold problems with using carbon offsets. The findings follow a similar study from 2015 showing that the Joint Implementation offsetting system, led to increased emissions of approximately 600 million tonnes.

“These new findings are not surprising but they are another reminder that carbon offsetting has not worked as a reliable climate tool.” said Aki Kachi, Carbon Market Watch’s International Policy Director. “The CDM and the emissions shifting concept of offsetting are not fit for the climate challenges ahead — the Paris Agreement’s changed policy landscape calls for a new approach to international climate cooperation.”

Demand from aviation

The most probable buyers of these CDM credits could be the aviation industry through its recently established offset market: the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The scheme intends to accept CDM and other UN credits that meet additional standards which the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aim to finalize this year.

“It’s baffling to think that the aviation industry could potentially use credits that do nothing to compensate for their rapidly growing climate impact. To avoid greenwashing, aviation’s new offset market has to exclude credits that have not proven to be effective.” Kelsey Perlman, Aviation Policy Officer at Carbon Market Watch.

Negotiations on the role of carbon market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement reconvene next month at the UNFCCC intersessional in Bonn, Germany.

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