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Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions

That’s the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits “was like printing money.” The BBC reports:

As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.

The SEI sampled 60 random projects and found a whopping 80 percent of them to be of questionable green merit. The majority of these bogus Russian and Ukrainian offsets were used by the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (the EU ETS), a program already bogged down with problems pricing carbon. “[T]he poor overall quality of [Joint Implementation] projects may have undermined the EU’s emission reduction target by some 400 million tons of CO2,” said Anja Kollmuss, one of the leaders of the study.

This has huge implications, then, for Europe’s green goals. For years EU members have chosen to outsource emissions cuts with these carbon credits, but the lack of proper oversight at the UN level of the projects abroad supposedly generating these cuts now leaves the supposedly eco-conscious bloc in a bind. “If the EU was taking its climate targets seriously, then at least 400 million ETS certificates would have to be deleted to counter that,” Kollmuss pointed out.

But perhaps worst of all are the perverse incentives the SEI report alleges these credit swaps have created for actually increasing emissions. According to a study released in the journal Nature Climate Change, plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in an increase in emissions as large as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide—roughly half the amount the EU’s ETS intends to reduce from 2013 to 2030.

The UN seemingly left it up to national governments to oversee these projects, and now it has a full-blown crisis on its hands. With the Paris climate summit just over three months away now, trust in the international approach to solving climate change is falling to new lows.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Wait, wait, wait….you mean that a ‘green’ initiative was nothing but a scam that had no positive (and likely negative) impacts on the actual quality of the environment? Color me shocked

  • Kevin

    Who knew that the Russians and Ukrainians would cheat on this? It’s exactly what one would expect from the overall political and business ethics in these countries.

    • megapotamus

      It’s superior in Brussels, I guess? Guess again.

      • Kevin

        Brussels definitely has some corruption issues, but Russia and the Ukraine are in a whole different world of business and political corruption.

        • Diggsc

          Yes, they are corrupt and acknowledge their corruption. You want to do business with them, then pay the bribe. However Brussels is just as corrupt, and they acknowledge no such corruption. You want to do business with them, you still pay the bribe, but they will make sure the bribe is in a form of payment that they themselves have made “legal”. Politically legal, maybe even judiciously legal. Morally legal, no. The corruption in Russia is more moral than the corruption in Brussels.

  • megapotamus

    How much did the globe warm last year? How much the last two years? Three? Five? Twelve? Eighteen? The answer, fellow babies, ain’t blowin’ in the wind. It’s zero. Forward.

  • juandos
  • Ann in L.A.

    I’m waiting for the day when Al Gore, who has made billions off of offsets and the like, looks into a camera, laughs maniacally, and says “Suckers!”

  • bittman

    This discover is not surprising. Ever since the East Anglia University hacker revealed that the GLOBAL WARMING environmental “SCIENTISTS” did NOT FOLLOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD for conducting research, I’ve totally discounted anything they say.

  • Good Stuff

    Do you have procrastination issues? Do you want buy prepaid carbon credits for our next vacation? Are you monetarily challenged by the banking calamity? Looking to buy/trade carbon credits to increase your holdings.


    Is where you can exchange, sell, buy, barter or trade carbon credits. The aim is to make this the one stop pump and dump carbon offset exchange. With G-COME you can now participate in a program where Aggregators and Brokers are not taking their slice of the carbon offset pie in the sky.

  • Diggsc

    Al Gore’s purchase of a multi-million dollar SEASIDE mansion tells you everything you need to know about the hoax that is Global Warming.

    • ActualModerateConservative

      You mean the one that is 2 miles inland and 500 feet above sea level?


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