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28 Jan 2021 | 09:56

Green groups call on Carney to raise concerns over carbon offsetting blueprint

(Sharecast News) - Leaders of two UK environmental charities have raised concerns over a blueprint for carbon offsetting with former Bank of England governor and now UN climate envoy, Mark Carney.

The plan which could lead to billions of new carbon credits being sold around the world would contribute to climate change and could turn into a system for greenwashing, detractors said.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, and Craig Bennett, head of the Wildlife Trusts, wrote to Carney this week to raise these concerns and said loopholes in the system were still open.

"There is a danger that it becomes a large international greenwashing exercise, creating a market with low standards but high PR value," they wrote.

Carney presented plans at the virtual Davos meeting on Wednesday evening for vast increases in the number of carbon offsets sold. His aim is to expand the market from about $300m at present to between $50bn and $100bn a year.

He told the conference that he "categorically rejected" criticism that offsets were greenwash and gave reassurance that those businesses buying the offsets would be scrutinised and must have a clear plan to reach net zero emissions.

"This is bringing those companies into a formal system," he said. "This is about maximising the use of a very limited [global] carbon budget. This is complementary [for businesses' green plans] and is one piece of the puzzle. We do need this market."

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, backed the plan and said that money from the sale of offsets could support the "bootstrapping" or rapid growth of green innovations.

"All of these products, for middle income countries to buy, are going to have to come at such a small premium that they are willing to shift all their purchasing to them," he said.

Nevertheless, there has been a history of scandals regarding the sale of carbon offsets in which credits were awarded to projects that did not reduce carbon dioxide, or credits were not properly traceable, were mis-sold or were double counted.

Critics say the markets are used as a facade for companies that wish to give the appearance of working towards net zero emissions, but do not make the effort to actually do so.
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