Bogus carbon offsets increased emissions
A flawed scheme that allowed companies to earn tradable carbon credits for projects supposed to abate industrial gases actually created a “perverse” incentive to generate more waste, leading to an increase in global emissions instead of cuts, according to a new study.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) found that the credits may have increased emissions by as much as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide.
“What was shocking for us was the extent of the problem — we didn’t expect that it would be so big,” said Anja Kollmuss, an SEI associate who led the study.
The study could create problems for global climate talks later this year because they undercut the credibility of carbon trading schemes, one of the most popular ways of using market mechanisms to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The worst offenders were in Ukraine and Russia, where the system was riddled with corruption, the Stockholm authors wrote in an article published Monday by the Nature Climate Change journal. They noted “perverse effects” that had the operators of three chemical plants removing safeguards and increasing the production of powerful greenhouse gases to earn more lucrative credits.