The Carbon Neutral Myth

The Carbon Neutral Myth

From comes this important report, “The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins”

Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins. Scratch the surface, however, and a disturbing picture emerges, where creative accountancy and elaborate shell games cover up the impossibility of verifying genuine climate change benefits, and where communities in the South often have little choice as offset projects are inflicted on them.

This report argues that offsets place disproportionate emphasis on individual lifestyles and carbon footprints, distracting attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken to tackle climate change. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches involves moving away from the marketing gimmicks, celebrity endorsements, technological quick fixes, and the North/South exploitation that the carbon offsets industry embodies.

ClimateandCapitalism adds

When companies like Climate Care and the Carbon Neutral Company sell the public carbon offsets, carbon savings expected to be made in the future are counted as savings made in the present. Offset companies give the idea that emissions are instantly “neutralised” when in fact the supposed “neutralisation” can take place over periods of up to a hundred years. Regular offsetting worsens the problem because the rate at which carbon emissions are “neutralised” is far slower than the rate at which they are generated.

So, it’s really just smoke and mirrors, isn’t it? An unverifiable system of trading credits that pretends to neutralize carbon, but doesn’t actually do so. It’s another loony “market-based” solution that will do little to stop global warming. Like something as complex and earthbound as stopping climate change could somehow be prevented by the equivalent of trading futures. This is like thinking that drinking Diet Coke after eating a pizza will magically offset the calories in the pizza.

Thus, carbon trading it is actually worse than doing nothing, because it pretends to be a solution but actually distracts from the real work that needs to be done. This work is systemic and will involve changing political and economic structures, rather than being a little spritz of greenwash feel-good juice that solves nothing except for making a few capitalists wealthier.

Download the report (80 pg PDF)

[tags]carbon trading, carbon neutral[/tags]