The Insanity of Land Clearance Avoidance Carbon Offsets
By Bruce Barbour - February 2023The more I look at schemes that provide carbon offsets and/or carbon credits from land clearance avoidance schemes the more I realise how insane it is.
The easiest way to show this is to look at an example which is extreme. This will put a spotlight on the shortcomings of the whole scheme.
It is generally agreed that destruction of the Amazon rain forest would be a very bad thing for the planet in terms of carbon dioxide release and the resultant adverse impact on global climate change. And a range of other adverse impacts.
Say all the governments who control the areas on which the rain forest exists decide that they will open all the Amazon forest up for clear felling - to harvest the timber and then to graze cattle.
A company comes in and says to these governments - "Don't do that. If you agree to lock up the land - not clear it - we will pay you large amounts of money. We will generate this money by selling carbon credits and offsets on the carbon markets." The countries agree.
"Hooray!" You think. "How great are these carbon markets. They saved the Amazon rain forest."
But wait. What have they really achieved. The rain forest may be saved - if the company and the countries keep to the agreement and don't knock down the rain forest, now or into the distant future - and that is a BIG IF. But has the climate change effects been changed?
The Amazon rain forest is estimated to hold 76 billion tonnes of carbon. The company could generate 76 billion carbon credits. The company sells these on the carbon market. Cheap, cheap carbon credits. The fossil fuel industry rubs their hands together in glee and buys them. Now they can keep on pumping out carbon dioxide for at least another 8 years and claim they are "Net Zero" - clean and green.
When they have finally used up all these carbon credits lets look at what has happened. The amount of carbon dioxide that they would have pumped out into the atmosphere over that time would be about the same as what would have been put into the atmosphere from the clear felling of the Amazon rain forest. With the same disastrous climate effects.
In terms of climate change, nothing has been achieved.
I agree this is an extreme example. It is unlikely that all the countries of the Amazon would agree to clear fell the Amazon. But now imagine land clearance avoidance on a much geographical wider area. Dozens and dozens of countries, in Africa, Asia, North and South America, parts of Europe and, yes Australia, who all say - they only have to say it, not actually mean it - they were going to log certain areas of forest in their country. The area of those forests could add up to the area of the Amazon rain forest and contain a similar amount of carbon. Say all these geographically diverse forests are then "saved" from land clearance by many diverse carbon credit schemes run by many diverse companies. Carbon credits would be created and sold. Fossil fuel and other corporations would use them to keep on putting out carbon dioxide until all carbon credits are used up. Consequently the atmospheric carbon effect is the same as clear felling all these areas.
Or the same as clear felling the Amazon rain forest.
Also consider what happens after the fossil fuel industry has used all the carbon credits from the Amazon rain forest after 8 years. They will still be pumping out carbon dioxide at the same or higher rate as when they started. What do they do then? Do they find another Amazon rain forest or equivalent and use the carbon credits from supposedly preventing the clearance of those forests? How many "threatened" Amazon rain forests equivalents are there on Earth? The Earth will run out of forests to "save" and the fossil fuel industry will still be spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The alternative of course is to shut down the fossil fuel industry. Do it once and then there is no on going carbon emissions to pollute the atmosphere. And we can look at and implement alternate methods of saving the Amazon rain forest and other threatened forests around the Globe that does not rely on the fossil fuel industry's continued existence.
Land clearance avoidance carbon credits are false. They should not be considered part of a solution to climate change. They just give industry a means to continue business as usual.
It is in fact even WORSE than I have outlined on this page. Read link below for further details of the insanity that is Land Clearance Avoidance Carbon Credits:-
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