Carbon offsets under the microscope: Greenpeace reasserts its position

Oct 11, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Following its scathing 'Hero to Zero' report, Greenpeace has hit out again at large companies using carbon offsets to meet sustainability targets. At the Reuters Impact conference, Greenpeace's Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said there's "no time" for offsets and that the climate emergency requires us to phase out fossil fuels.

Carbon offsets are the process of companies buying carbon credits or investing in green projects to achieve net-zero status. According to estimates from the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, it's a market that will become a $50 billion industry by 2030. Morgan calls these schemes "pure 'greenwash," which enable companies to "continue to do what they've been doing and make a profit."

Executive Director Jennifer Morgan argues offset schemes are a form of greenwashing

Companies justify the use of carbon offsets by saying that some emissions are unavoidable, and carbon offsets can be seen as temporary measures to counteract these emissions. However, it appears that there is an over-reliance on these schemes, and in many cases, they are being used by companies as a facade, and offset claims are exaggerated.

According to CarbonPlan, which analyses the integrity of such schemes, 29% of the forest carbon offsets analysed in a $2 billion programme in California "overestimated" the number of emissions they were offsetting. This totaled around 30 million tonnes or $410 million.

A number of data center companies are currently using carbon offsets. This includes NEXTDC, Vantage Data Centres, Iron Mountain, to name a few. 

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