Climate & Environment

John Gibbons: Empty carbon offsetting promises mean it’s business as usual for the polluters

Far from leading to tangible reductions in overall carbon pollution globally, for many, the practice increasingly looks like a PR initiative which does little to protect the planet

The most popular corporate carbon offset is the commitment to plant trees, but as global temperatures rise, more and more ‘protected’ forests are being destroyed by fires, droughts, diseases and invasive pests. Picture: Roberto Gonzalez

When is a measure that looks like it will protect the environment not actually a measure that will protect the environment? Sometimes, it’s when it involves carbon offsetting.

Put simply, a carbon offset is the promise of the removal or neutralising of a given amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is particularly appealing for sectors such as aviation, where there are few realistic alternatives to burning fossil fuels.

It could involve a company funding tree ...