Forest carbon offsetting has long been controversial. Its advocates see it as a way of compensating for residual emissions as the global north transitions to a low-carbon economy while also channelling much needed finance for forests. Its critics warn it is a form of greenwashing that serves to delay urgent climate action in the global north, reduces forests to only their carbon value, and that huge uncertainties in the way that carbon is measured can lead to the production of ‘hot air’ credits and even fraud.
In recent years, interest in forest carbon markets has been revived by ‘net-zero’ commitments, corporate ‘carbon neutral’ claims and the finalisation of Article 6 of the Paris Climate Accord establishing the rules of an international carbon trading system. Backed up by ambitious claims about the climate mitigation potential of REDD+ and other so-called nature-based solutions, demand for land in tropical forests is now surging to serve this burgeoning market, including from oil and logging companies looking to offset their emissions. With this has come renewed concerns about the value of such schemes as well as the impacts on the human rights and food security of local communities.
We urgently need to unlock more funding for forest protection but this must not come at the expense of lowering emissions in the global north or the rights of forest dwellers. Securing their lands and addressing weak governance in many tropical forest countries are essential conditions for sustainable and equitable forest management.
What we're doing
- On the ground, we shine a light on what is really happening in remote REDD+ and offsetting projects by supporting local communities to understand, monitor and exercise their rights and holding project developers accountable.
- At the national and international levels, we support local communities and organisations to meaningfully participate in climate negotiations and promote their rights in forest and climate policies such as countries’ NDCs.
- We conduct research and advocacy on drivers of deforestation, nature markets and other international trends.