By Chris Lang
Yesterday, REDD-Monitor wrote about a Dutch carbon offsetting, tree planting firm called Land Life Company. Last week, a fire started in one of the company’s plantations that burned 14,000 hectares of land in the northeast of Spain. “The fire started while a contractor was using a retro-spider excavator to prepare the soil to plant trees later this winter,” Land Life stated.
REDD-Monitor sent some questions to Rebekah Braswell and Tjeerd Anema, acting CEOs at Land Life, and asked for an on the record response.
Land Life’s response arrived today. As promised, it is posted here in full and unedited:
From: Land Life
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 at 15:17
Subject: Re: Some questions about Land Life Company, carbon offsets, and the fire in Spain
Thanks for reaching out to us. At the moment, we are unfortunately not able to provide information.
We appreciate your understanding.
Here are REDD-Monitor’s questions. If Land Life responds at some point in the future, REDD-Monitor will post the company’s replies to the questions in full and unedited.
- In Land Life Company’s statement you say that you are “devastated” about the fire in Aragón. However, the company has not apologised. Why not? And do you plan to do so?
- This was the second fire started by Land Life’s operations in Aragón this year. Why did you continue working in the extremely dry conditions? Land Life’s website states that “A fire destroyed the forest here years ago”. Clearly, then, you knew that this area is prone to fire. Spain’s weather agency issued temperature warnings of 42°C in Aragón for 17 July 2022. Why did Land Life ignore these warnings? Why did you not stop your contractor from working during the extreme heat?
- Had Land Life’s tree planting operations in Bubierca where the fire started generated any carbon offsets? Which company (or companies) were claiming that the trees were offsetting their emissions?
- What will happen to the offsets that Land Life has already generated? Given that the greenhouse gas emissions from the fire are probably considerably greater than the carbon absorbed by the trees that Land Life has planted, will Land Life be refunding any of the companies that claim to have offset their emissions with trees planted by Land Life? Does Land Life intend to attempt to measure how much greenhouse gas was emitted by the fires? What methodology will you use for this calculation?
- The fire started when a contractor was preparing the soil “to plant trees later this winter”, according to Land Life’s statement about the fire. Why was it necessary to prepare the ground in July – several months before the saplings will be planted?
- What area of land has Land Life planted with trees globally? Could you please provide a complete list of all Land Life’s projects, including the area of each planted area. How many carbon offsets have Land Life’s planted trees generated?
- Will Land Life use any of the money that it raised in 2018 (€3.5 million) and 2020 (€6 million) to pay reparations to the communities Aragón affected by the fires?
- Land Life’s statement about the 2018 funding round mentions that “blockchain verification” will be “applied to Land Life Company’s planting practices”. But this is the only mention of blockchain on the company’s website. What happened to the idea of using blockchain verification?
- How does Land Life calculate how much carbon is stored in the trees that it plants? What methodology does Land Life use to determine that its tree planting is permanent, additional, and does not lead to leakage (i.e. deforestation taking place elsewhere)?
- On which registry are Land Life’s carbon offsets placed? If the offsets are not placed on a registry, how can anyone outside Land Life Company know whether the offsets are being double-counted?
- In 2019, Land Life’s Jurriaan Ruys said that the company charges between €15 and €20 per offset. What does Land Life charge in 2022 per offset?
- According to Verra’s Registry, Land Life has made three retirements: in February 2019; February 2020; and June 2020. In February 2019, Land Life retired 12,000 carbon offsets from the Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe. The vintage of the offsets was 2014. Could you please explain why Land Life was buying and selling five year old carbon offsets? How much did Land Life sell these offsets for?
- Land Life’s offset-buying clients include several oil and gas companies: Shell; Repsol; and Lundin Energy. Shell is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. To avoid climate breakdown we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuel companies buy carbon offsets in order to continue extracting oil and gas, and to continue profiting from doing so, while giving the impression that they are addressing the climate crisis. Offsetting is making the climate crisis worse by allowing oil companies to continue business as usual. Are there any companies that Land Life would not work with?
- For its tree planting operations in Ghana, Land Life has partnered with EcoPlanet Bamboo. What exactly is EcoPlanet Bamboo’s role in this partnership with Land Life? During your due diligence on EcoPlanet Bamboo, did you find out about the millions of dollars raised through sales of a “bamboo bond”? Or that the “bamboo bond” was sold to retail investors in the UK through a series of boiler room operations that made too-good-to-be-true promises of returns up to 895%? Or that the retail investors subsequently lost their money?
- When, and why, did Land Life set up a company called Land Life Company USA, PBC in the tax haven of Delaware in the USA?
- I note that Land Life Company does not publish its annual reports on its website. Why not? Could you please send me copies of all Land Life’s annual reports since the company was founded in 2013, including for the US-based Land Life company.