Carbon discredits – Climate Weekly

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Shell is involved in a series of contentious carbon offsetting projects. Photo: Alexander Svensson/Flickr


It’s not been the carbon credit industry’s proudest week. On Tuesday, we revealed how Shell has been cashing in on dubious offsets from Chinese rice farming projects using accounting loopholes.

Then yesterday, we reported how the carbon credit industry had successfully resisted calls from vulnerable nations for a share of carbon market revenues to go towards helping countries adapt to climate change.

On Climate Home and elsewhere, it feels like nearly every day brings a new carbon credit exposé. But are those in power paying attention? 

Our freedom of information request revealed that the last Australian government paid US$133,000 for advice on carbon credits. 

The consultants they gave the contract to had a close relationship with the carbon credit and fossil fuel industries and (surprise surprise) the report they produced was uncritical of carbon credits.

While the new Australian Labor government says it is cracking down on consultants, they seem to have kept their predecessors’ love of carbon credits.

Offsetting emissions from new coal and gas production was a key plank of the new Labor government’s flagship climate policy, agreed after compromises with the Greens this week.

This week’s stories

On a brighter note, it’s been a fantastic week for climate lawyers. In New York on Wednesday, the UN General Assembly officially asked one of the world’s top courts to advise states on their responsibilities to fight climate change and the legal implications of failing to do so.

That was a diplomatic success for the tiny Pacific nation of Vanuatu and the students there who dreamed up the initiative. Although no one knows what the court will rule, Vanuatu’s prime minister called it “a win for climate justice of epic proportions”.

Also on Wednesday, Isabella Kaminski reported from a court in Strasbourg where France and Switzerland stood accused of breaching their citizens’ human rights through inadequate action on climate change.

If the European Court of Human Rights rules in campaigners’ favour, the case could improve climate policies across Europe and the world – as governments tend to dislike getting sued.

Read more on: Carbon markets