">Why we prioritise carbon reduction over carbon offsets - the Tapio blog

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Niels Moerkerke

Feb. 28, 2023

Climate Justice

Carbon Offset

Carbon Reduction


Why we prioritise carbon reduction over carbon offsets 


In the EU and the US, carbon offset markets are under increased scrutiny. Lack of international regulation and objective auditing can lead to negative side-effects in the Global South. Drastically lowering our emissions and establishing world-wide binding agreements are the path to a brighter and more just future for all.


Picture: https://sg.tudelft.nl/event/green-transition-or-eco-colonialism/


An unregulated market


By the end of 2022, the European Commission will present its proposal to unify the measurement, reporting and verification process (MRV) of EU’s carbon removals. This proposal will exclusively encompass projects on EU soil. It won’t offer any framework on how organisations operating in the EU should deal with carbon offset projects nor on how they should communicate about their carbon strategy.


Carbon Offset Markets have jumped from $520.000.000 in 2020 to $ in 2021 and are coming under increased scrutiny in the US. A few months after John Oliver destroyed the current state of Carbon Offsets in his weekly satirical review, US senators pushed for regulator crackdown. The senators said that offsets that did not genuinely deliver the environmental benefits they promised constituted “fraudulent investments”. These investments were “a convenient and profitable way to market climate consciousness without requiring real action to reduce emissions.”


All over the world, litigation linked to greenwashing and carbon offsets is becoming an increased risk to large corporations. One reason is linked to the unregulated carbon credit market that is widely regarded as a ‘wild west’. This is especially true given that independent and objective audits of carbon offset projects are still far from being the standard.


Carbon pitfalls in the Global South


Scientists and watchdogs agree that high quality Carbon Offsets should at the very least be:

  • Additional
  • Not overestimated
  • Permanent
  • Not claimed by another entity
  • Not associated with significant social or environmental harms


The last item raises some important ethical questions regarding offsetting through ‘planting trees’. Massive tracts of land in the Global South are owned by people and organisations that acquired these through colonial proceedings. This land can now bring additional wealth to the 'already rich', enlarging the gap between the wealthy and the poor.


Even in secluded areas around the world, indigenous communities whose livelihoods do not depend on monetary riches are targeted. Carbon Offsetting companies do not hesitate to contact these communities with a promise of incomprehensible amounts of money which has the potential to fully disrupt their social fabric. A good example of the consequences of eco-colonialism for the sake of Global North’s markets.


The adage goes that every crisis can be an opportunity, even the largest crisis that humanity has ever faced. And thus it should be marketed and monetised. The Climate Crisis is in part caused by unchecked markets that for too long have put Profit over People or Planet. This raises the following questions: Should it be these same markets that get to decide on the future of our species (and so many others)? Or should we individuals, as parts of structures and organisations get to decide on a brighter future for all?


Let’s work together for that brighter future


We at Tapio believe in the second path. And we know what must be done.


Starting today, we need to:

  • Educate ourselves and become more conscious on an individual level
  • Drastically lower our emissions on an organisational and societal level
  • Be active, be inclusive, and work together across borders 


And we can help you.


Together, let’s become #ClimateDriven.










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