Land carbonAdvocacyCarbon OffsetsPinwheel Platform
2 min read
Rob Cheesewright  (Pinwheel author)

Rob Cheesewright

Carbon offsetting - we’re sleepwalking into climate catastrophe

  • Carbon offset prices are 50 times too cheap to avoid climate and biodiversity collapse

  • A series of investigations have uncovered worthless carbon credits for sale

  • Business leaders are concerned about the reputation risks associated with offsetting

  • A NEW paper published today sets out a higher-impact approach

21 February 2023: Carbon offsetting is becoming a threat to climate and ecological security. The price of carbon credits – often a mere £5 a tonne – is a fraction of the £252 real cost of carbon emissions to society. With price expectations anchored so low, there is little realistic chance of generating the funding required to avoid climate catastrophe.

That is the analysis of sustainability start-up Pinwheel, who have today launched a white paper setting out a new, more impactful approach to corporate sustainability funding. The white paper recommends organisations deploy Strategic Sustainability Funds.

The approach demands that companies fund high impact climate and biodiversity projects, rather than seek to buy offsets to count those off against their own carbon emissions to claim that they are “carbon neutral”. Pinwheel believes such an approach will cause capital to be reallocated from dubious and low priced carbon offsetting programmes to genuinely impactful projects that remove carbon and restore biodiversity.

Gavin Sheppard, CEO of Pinwheel, said:

“Carbon offsets lock us in to dangerously low climate investment, making it all but impossible to avoid climate catastrophe. Organisations are taking a staggering risk with their reputation when they use carbon offsets as a major part of their response to climate change. Leaders and boards should get ahead of this risk by getting out of the murky world of offset-based claims and instead putting their money in to a portfolio of the most impactful carbon removing and biodiversity projects.”

The need for a new approach has brought into sharp focus by the recent publication of a nine-month Guardian, Die Zeit and SourceMaterial investigation on forest protection offsets that has found that more than 90% of a major provider’s rainforest offset credits do not result in carbon being reduced.

The UK’s Climate Change Committee outlined why offsetting puts our net zero goals in jeopardy – if companies are able to claim they are carbon neutral with carbon credits, it may make them less likely go the hard yards on reducing the carbon emissions within their business. That many of the credits companies have bought are worthless, then that is even more troubling.

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