Yesterday Greenpeace launched a spoof website: Carbon Regulatory Offset Committee (C.R.O.C.). C.R.O.C.’s philosophy is simple: “do something good for the environment, then do something bad to it!” The timing is perfect.
The US Congressional debate on the Waxman-Markey bill is heating up. And last week, the UN suspended SGS UK, the largest auditor of clean development mechanism projects, calling into question the legitimacy of the US$100 billion carbon trading market. A Public Service Announcement from C.R.O.C. is posted below, with an email from C.R.O.C.’s Carl Cardova.
But first, this is what C.R.O.C. and Greenpeace have to say about forest offsets:
What about offsets from forests – are they any better?
Oh yeah. You wouldn’t think that the carbon offset program could get any better, but those darn forest offsets found a way to do it. They really cheap. And amazing. AND, they’re from forests, so they’ve got to be good, right? We all love forests. You know what else comes from forests? Owls. And how cool are those? They can turn their heads around, like, 180 degrees! Pretty damn cool. I’ll bet those Negative Nellies at Greenpeace will find some way to knock forest offsets in their response. Typical.
Actually, forest offsets are among the lowest-quality, least reliable offsets in the world. This is particularly true with offsets that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Here are some of the major challenges:
“Leakage” — Deforestation can often simply move to a different part of a region or even across borders, meaning no real pollution was cut.
“Permanence” — Forests can burn, be illegally logged, and change over time in a variety of other ways, meaning they may not keep the same carbon value in the long-term.
“Additionality” — Can we be sure over time that a forest was actually going to be destroyed? If politics or the underlying drivers of deforestation change, which they often do in developing countries, this can be very difficult to prove. If offset credits are generated from forests that would have stayed standing anyway, those offsets are simply justifying a new polluting activity elsewhere in the world without benefits for the climate.
“Measurement and Verification” — It is much more difficult to accurately measure the carbon in trees, plants, and soils of forests than measure the climate pollution from industrial sources like a tailpipe or smokestack. Substituting forest offsets for pollution from a power plant is like mixing apples and oranges… Or maybe more like pineapples and watermelons!
Plus, in a rush to create huge amounts of cheap REDD offsets so polluters can keep polluting, the rights of people who live in and depend on tropical forests (indigenous peoples and local communities) may be trampled on. Likewise, the precious diversity of life within those forests may be overlooked when people start looking at living forest ecosystems as a collection of “carbon sticks.”
From: Carl Cardova, CROC
Subject: Corporate Polluters Use Offsets, Why Not the Average Joe? Now They Can With CROC!
Date: 15 September 2009 19:26
You are receiving this because you have been deemed to be an “influential” by someone who works for me whose name I don’t know. Who am I? I’m Carl Cordova, chief press liaison for the Carbon Regulatory Offset Committee, or C.R.O.C.
Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of thecroc.org. At C.R.O.C., our mission is a simple one: extend the flawless logic and sound reasoning behind the carbon offset system to the average taxpayer. For too long, only multi-national corporations have been able to wallow in the glory of carbon offsets. What are carbon offsets? In a nutshell, the philosophy behind them is this: doing something good for the environment earns you the right to do something bad to it. Makes sense, right?
This system just makes too much sense to limit it only to these big-polluting multi-national corporations. Our new website exists to announce this initiative and explain to the good people out there that their pro-environmental deeds (driving a hybrid, recycling plastic bottles, etc.) can now earn them the right to perpetrate some good ol’ corporate-style environmental devastation.
Please feel free to plug the living daylights out of this new online destination and embed our informative, entertaining videos into that blog-type arrangement you have there. If the environment had manners, it would thank you.
Sure, carbon market regulator SGS UK had its accreditation suspended last week for negligence, and some environmental groups like Greenpeace are quick to point out that if all of the allotted carbon offset points were used, it would basically allow these companies to never change their behavior, but they’re missing the point.
And the point is this: THERE’S A NEW WEBSITE! AND IT’S ON THE INTERNET!!