Offsetting fossil fuel emissions with tree planting and ‘natural climate solutions’: science, magical thinking, or pure PR?

By Chris Lang (REDD-Monitor) and Simon Counsell (Rainforest Foundation UK)

Unlike carbon capture and storage systems, trees do actually take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it – temporarily, at least. In theory, planting enough new trees, and allowing existing forests to grow and regenerate, could mop up some of the excess CO2 now in the atmosphere. The idea has been around since the mid-1970s, when theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson came up with the idea of planting vast areas with trees (“in countries where labor is cheap”) to soak up the CO2 that burning fossil fuels is putting in the atmosphere.

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Civil society monitoring of REDD in Mai Ndombe province reveals that REDD on the ground is failing to adhere to national and international standards

In September and October 2018, six local monitors trained by the Congolese NGO Action pour la promotion et protection des peoples et espèces menacés (APEM) took part in a civil society monitoring mission in Mai Ndombe province. The monitoring was carried out with technical and financial support from Rainforest Foundation UK.

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How many “successful” REDD projects are there? Verra claims “more than 150”, but the reality is only 32 (according to Verra’s own project database)

Recently, ProPublica published a well researched article on the pitfalls of generating carbon credits from forest conservation: “An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing”. The article caused quite a stir and generated a series of responses from REDD proponents.

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Carbon fraud trial collapse in London. Judge notes that expert witness Andrew Ager knows a lot about carbon markets, but has little or no understanding of the duties of an expert witness

A £7 million carbon credit fraud trial has collapsed at Southwark Crown Court. In his closing observations, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith described the prosecution’s expert witness, Andrew Ager, as “not an expert of a suitable calibre”.

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