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More troubling news about more problems with carbon offsets being purchased by companies pursuing Net Zero goals. This scientific study published in Science. It’s a technical review of REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects that create offsets from voluntary avoided-deforestation projects. The study

“… examined the effects of 26 such project sites in six countries on three continents using synthetic control methods for causal inference. We found that most projects have not significantly reduced deforestation. For projects that did, reductions were substantially lower than claimed… the weight of evidence suggests that the voluntary REDD+ projects in our sample across six tropical countries achieved much less avoided deforestation than forecast by project developers. Only a minority of projects achieved statistically significant reductions in comparison with ex post counterfactuals. Our findings corroborate prior studies that questioned the additionality, and thus environmental integrity, of carbon-offset interventions.”

The key phrase above for those considering REDD offsets appears to be “achieved much less avoided deforestation than forecast by project developers”. Yet another example of why due diligence as discussed by Mark Trexler in the previous blog is so important for both offset buyers and project investors/sponsors.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile