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Norway’s support for the aviation sector’s plans to burn the planet

In September 2015, a meeting took place in New York between Per Pharo and Marte Sendstad of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, and Nigel Purvis from the Washington DC-based consulting firm, Climate Advisers.

During the meeting, they talked about the aviation industry’s plans to offset its emissions, in order to avoid taking meaningful action on climate change.

Both Climate Advisers and NICFI are very much in favour of this proposal to allow unlimited growth for the aviation sector.

The proposals are due to be discussed at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), taking place from 27 September to 7 October in Montreal.

Nice work if you can get it

Climate Advisers got the go-ahead from NICFI for the work and in an email to Pharo and Sendstad, Purvis wrote:

Based on the authorization to begin work that you provided this last Tuesday, we have secured the services of Garrett Russo, an experienced organizer with ICAO and REDD experience. Garrett starts early next week.

Russo’s previous job was Communications Director with VCS. He wrote to REDD-Monitor in May 2013. Russo told me that VCS would not help to stop boiler room scam companies selling worthless carbon credits to retail investors by putting a notice on the VCS website explaining that carbon credits were not a suitable investment.

Instead, VCS has a page on its website explaining that “VCS is not an investment firm, and as such, does not provide any direct advice on the purchase or trading of VCUs.” VCS follows this with some advice for people who wish to buy carbon credits.

In a note about Russo’s new job, funded by NICFI, Climate Advisers explained (under the sub-heading “Purpose and goal”) that,

Climate Advisers will provide support for NICFI’s efforts to include REDD+ offsets under a new global market-based mechanism (MBM) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The total budget for Climate Adviser’s work was NOK1,483,350 (US$191,339). But the document released under Norway’s freedom of information rules has been censored:2016-09-22-154828_1041x1026_scrot

I can only guess that NICFI is embarrassed about Climate Advisers’ extravagent hourly rates. On a previous contract with NICFI, Nigel Purvis billed himself out at an hourly rate of US$639.

Offsets and emissions from aviation set to soar

Nigel Wolosin and Garrett Russo teamed up with some of EDF’s carbon trade proponents to write a paper recently published in the Carbon and Climate Law Review.

Not at all coincidentally, EDF’s Annie Petsonk sits on the editorial board of the Carbon and Climate Law Review.

Titled “REDD+ in ICAO: Ready for Takeoff”, the paper does not consider that emissions from flying could be reduced.

Instead, EDF, Climate Advisors and the aviation sector see emissions soaring by 700% by 2050. And EDF and Climate Advisers imagine REDD credits from the World Bank’s FCPF Carbon Fund soaring to meet the demand:


The only actual data on the graph is the figure for 2015: zero. Everything beyond that is pure supposition.

Nevertheless, the paper confidently claims that,

REDD+ units generated through the FCPF Carbon Fund programmes could total about 160 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMtCO 2 e) for the years 2021 through 2025, satisfying between 27% to 71% of cumulative aviation emission unit demand over this period.

By the end of the paper, the authors’ enthusiasm has entirely got the better of them:

The estimated pipeline of jurisdictional REDD+ units could help meet a significant portion of aviation’s potential demand for emissions units, even when assuming REDD+ provides the only substantial supply of emissions units used to meet nations’ INDCs.

In order to reach this conclusion, all we have to do is assume that through the miracle known as REDD, forest fires stop in Indonesia and the Amazon, governments stop building dams and highways through the forests, extractive industries are excluded from forests, corruption disappears overnight, landgrabbing stops, and illegal deforestation vanishes in a puff of REDD smoke.

Having assumed all of that, all that remains for us to do is to overlook the fact that offsetting does not reduce emissions.

REDD proponents are desperate for a very large, very polluting industry to buy REDD credits. Aviation matches that description well.

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