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Nature: Carbon offsets aren’t helping the planet — ways to fix them.

Today is Thursday, September 14, 2023.

One of the best current articles. For its “down-to-Earth” analyses and proposals.

“Markets in ‘carbon offsets’ — credits that pay someone else to reduce atmospheric carbon on your behalf — can be an effective way to manage CO2 removal globally. But they will work only if the prices and incentives are right, and there are currently two fundamental problems with how they are set up”.

According to Nature, at least 90% of the offsets traded in the voluntary market are for avoiding carbon release, not for removing it. Nature-based solutions (NbS), forests like we posted yesterday.

How much do these offsets lower CO2 levels already in the air?

“Prices are similarly vague. Depending on where the purchase is made, the market price can range from under US$10 per tonne for some NbS offsets to around $100 per tonne in European Union markets, for example.”

In one hand, such low market prices are in part a legacy of the current reliance on avoidance credits, indicates Nature. On the other, have no relation with the several hundred dollars involved in any known method that effectively removes - for a longo enough period - one tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Pricing credits should be according to how much carbon is removed, for how long and how reliable. In other words, taking into account uncertainties in the duration of storage. As such, funding would funnel to the most effective climate solutions.

But “policies such as carbon pricing, net-zero requirements and cross-border taxes linked to the carbon embedded in imported products are necessary but not enough, because they don’t distinguish between low- and high-quality offsets.”

Regulators should step in and rate the quality of offsets, factoring all that. To the benefit of society.

Frameworks should also be globally consistent. “If proponents of the various technologies each focus on their own area, with no crosstalk or agreement, then quality assurance could not be traced across all the methods and would therefore be unlikely to be widely accepted.”

We need a long-term, unified vision for a global carbon-removal market. “Otherwise, the whole enterprise could founder amid industry tensions, scientific uncertainty and public scepticism”.

Click at the image below to read the August 29 2023 Nature article.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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