More Than 90% of Verra Carbon Offset Claims are Worthless: Investigation

A report by the UK publication The Guardian in conjunction with German weekly Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, alleges forest carbon offsets issued by Verra are largely worthless and could make global warming worse.  

The report says analysis of a significant percentage of the carbon offsets projects shows that more than 90% of the issued rainforest offset credits, which are among the most commonly used by companies, are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.

The Guardian report said the analysis raises questions over the credits bought by a number of internationally renowned companies, some of them have labelled their products “carbon neutral”, or have told their consumers they can fly, buy new clothes or eat certain foods without making the climate crisis worse.

Verra is a nonprofit organization that operates a number of leading environmental standards for climate action and sustainable development and has countered the claims.

On its website Verra said it was disappointed to see the publication of an article in the Guardian, developed with Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, incorrectly claiming that REDD+ projects are consistently and substantively over-issuing carbon credits.

“Verra worked closely with both publications in the run-up to the publication to explain why this claim is untrue, as it is based on studies that use a “synthetic control” approach or similar methods. We want to share this information with our stakeholders and the wider climate community,” the nonprofit said.

To date, Verra said it has issued over one billion carbon credits since 2009, which have enabled billions of dollars to be channeled to urgent climate action, sustainable development, and the protection and restoration of ecosystems.

Verra added it is able to mobilise finance at this scale because it certifies projects that avoid, reduce, or remove emissions. These impacts are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gasses (CO2e).

To ensure that this work is credible and reflects scientific consensus, Verra highlighted that it works with academics and experts globally to create and refine methodologies.

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