If done in good faith, carbon offsets can be vital in the fight against climate change.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not in any way reflect the position of the editors of Euronews.

The world is facing a climate emergency. However, reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone will not be enough: we must also remove carbon from the atmosphere.

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change historical record published earlier this month highlighted the urgent need for more ambitious action to address the issue, urging immediate action to mitigate the unfolding climate crisis.

This is where market efforts to reduce carbon emissions come into play.

Carbon offsets could indeed become meaningless

Through the use of natural carbon offsets, we can somehow offset hard-to-remove carbon dioxide emissions.

Offsets can support climate solutions such as forest conservation and restoration. But they should not be seen as a way out of the prison for polluting businesses – offsets should be accompanied by actions to reduce emissions.

Carbon offsets are bought and sold in carbon markets to incentivize emission reductions, making it economically attractive for companies to invest in emission reduction solutions.

However, recent opinion articles and investigations such as EuronewsCarbon offsets don’t work. It’s time for the EU to change its approach“and The Guardian”Finding: Analysis Shows More Than 90% of Rainforest Carbon Offsets by Major Certification Body Are Useless,” have identified serious problems with the integrity of natural carbon offsets.

If market action does not reduce carbon emissions, the whole premise of using carbon offsets as a tool to reduce emissions becomes meaningless.

In such a scenario, supporting market action would indeed not make much sense, as it would not result in real emission reductions.

There are also legal compensation projects.

Natural carbon offsets were never meant to “save us”; instead, they represent one of a set of actions needed to address the issue of outliers.

Decades of research shows that forest conservation and restoration effectively increase carbon dioxide capture and storage.

So turning this into a market mechanism has the potential to be one of the actions to combat climate change, with the added benefit of helping to conserve and restore ecosystems and transferring much-needed financial support to the Global South.

It is important to note that there have been cases of fraudulent or problematic carbon offsets being sold in the past. However, there are also legitimate offset projects that effectively reduce and mitigate emissions.

Two notable examples from Kenya are the Mikoko Pamoja community. mangrove conservation projectwhich, together with sister project Vanga Blue Forest, illustrates the world’s leading examples of how carbon offset initiatives can fair and just benefit communities.

Companies like Microsoft are prioritizing buying carbon offsets with many benefits. In Kenya, these projects help people protect the mangroves and also benefit society through the sale of carbon offsets.

The construction of fresh water wells and the purchase of hospital equipment and school books for local children were made possible by carbon revenue.

Financial transparency and gender equality are the main components of project oversight and organization.

Countries around the world are paying attention

The critical next step in developing a green carbon offset system is to ensure that the market is well managed.

National governments are responsible for managing the benefits and risks for their citizens from participating in the carbon market.

Even with Kenya’s positive examples, recent critiques show that in order to address issues such as complementarity, leakage and permanence and truly scale and sustainably manage the benefits.

In addition to improved governance, independent validation and standards may be required to help maximize and target the benefits of carbon offsets to communities and countries, and not just to ordinary market participants.

And countries are taking note. The need for highly reliable coastal and offshore compensation based on natural phenomena, or “blue carbon”, was a hot topic of discussion in an open session at a recent dialogue meeting International partnership for Blue CarbonFor example.

Recently, national forums have also been held recognizing the need to improve the management of the natural carbon market. Indonesia And Papua New Guinea.

Based on the Kenyan experience, we can envision highly integrated natural carbon offsets that can deliver carbon, community and biodiversity benefits in an accountable and verifiable manner.

Criticism can only help the carbon market

The recent critique of natural carbon offsets gives us a great opportunity to take a hard look at what’s going on in the market.

By all means, let’s take a look at current projects and see if they deliver on their carbon, community and biodiversity promises.

Let’s also focus on making the market work specifically for communities and countries, creating a north-south income stream that values ​​nature and where carbon offsets can play a role in protecting it if done right.

Kenya’s experience shows that community-based carbon offsets can work, and governments are willing to act.

For the market to thrive and make real progress against climate change, it needs to listen to criticism and evolve.

Steven Lutz is Senior Program Officer and Blue Carbon Leader at GRID-Arendal, a Norwegian foundation and collaborating center for the United Nations Environment Programme.

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