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Carbon Trading: Reports

Impacts on the EU 2030 climate target of including LULUCF in the climate and energy policy framework

The European Union (EU) has a target to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030. This is an economy-wide target and therefore includes the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. This study looks at how to integrate LULUCF into the EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. It concludes that depending on accounting rules used, including LULUCF would change the effort needed to reach the 40 per cent target by between 7.5 and 16 per cent of total emissions. This means a 2030 target of between 37 per cent and 33.6 per cent, way below the level needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

PDF iconLULUCF_2030_revised_b696.06 KB

Misleading numbers: The Case for Separating Land and Fossil Based Carbon Emissions

The word ‘carbon’ appears with relentless ubiquity in the news and in government policy and legislation. It is discussed as if it were a simple, almost abstract and easily quantifiable substance. However, like many ubiquitous words or concepts, the term ‘carbon’ needs some unpicking. The report outlines that accounting for land use carbon emissions is imprecise, costly and resource intensive, and the word ‘accounting’ — which implies real numbers — is misleading. 

In reality, terrestrial emissions and removals are estimated figures meaning that policy makers must recognise their limitations and focus on how to reduce emissions from fossil fuels whilst establishing incentives for sustainable land use.
For those who are short of time, a summary version of this report is also available.

Carbon Discredited: Why the EU should steer clear of forest carbon offsets

The N’hambita Forest Carbon Offset Pilot Project, run by the company Envirotrade, and initially funded by European Commission (EC) money, has failed to deliver most of its climate change, development, financial and learning objectives. Envirotrade suggest that emissions have been offset against supposed carbon stores in Mozambique, which they cannot calculate because of the problems inherent in baselines and the impossibility of verifying claimed savings. 

The report concludes that the EU should urgently reconsider its position on forest carbon offset projects such as these, and divert any resources planned for offset projects to making real reductions in carbon emissions at source within member states.
PDF iconNhambita_internet.pdf773.13 KB

EU ETS myth busting: Why it can’t be reformed and shouldn’t be replicated

Given the urgent need to limit  global warming, it is vital that the European Union (EU) gives itself the best tools with which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since the launch of the EU's ‘cornerstone policy’ to reduce emissions — the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), emissions have risen; there is increased reliance on coal; the price of consumer energy has risen along with the profits of many industrial actors (as a direct result of the EU ETS) and millions of euros of public money have been lost in VAT fraud.

This report shows that far from being the ‘best tool’ to combat climate change, the EU ETS is inherently too weak to drive the sustainable energy transformation the EU needs in order to stay within global warming limits. It is systemically flawed and cannot be fixed.

PDF iconMyths_internet.pdf1.23 MB

Designed to fail? The concepts, practices and controversies behind carbon trading.

Carbon trading has become the central pillar of international efforts to halt climate change. It is a term that most people will recognise, but far fewer will have a good understanding of what it means and how it is supposed to work. Fewer still will feel confident to judge whether it is a success or not.

As an accessible introduction to carbon trading, FERN published Trading carbon: how it works and why it is controversial. This summary version provides a synopsis of the key points of that book. We would encourage readers to refer to the full version for references, more detailed explanations, examples and evidence. 

PDF iconFERN_designedtofail_internet.pdf796.56 KB

Trading carbon: how it works and why it is controversial

In the drive to tackle climate change, carbon trading has become the policy instrument of choice among governments. It is also a central element of the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol. National or regional carbon trading schemes are now operational in Europe, the USA, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Yet carbon trading remains highly controversial. Some see it as a dangerous distraction and a false solution to the problem of climate change. Unfortunately the subject is characterised by jargon, abstract concepts, mathematical formulae and technical detail, making it hard for most people to understand its implications and assess its merits or otherwise. This guide attempts to unravel some of this complexity.

For a 20 page version of this guide please see

PDF iconOPEN1.84 MB

Cutting corners; how the FCPF is failing forests and peoples

A FERN-Forest Peoples Programme report analysing nine different country proposals (R-PINs) to get money from the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The report concludes that both the process and the proposals adopted do not respect the Bank's own guidelines. The report also includes an annex which details the World Bank funded REDD process.

PDF iconOPEN in English1.3 MB
PDF iconOUVRIR en français1.56 MB
PDF iconABRIR en espanol818.92 KB


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Aviation sector threatens to undermine Paris Agreement

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Will carbon markets ever deliver for southern government, forests and people?

This statement, endorsed by 57 prominent human rights and environmental organisations from Europe, Africa, Asia,and North America, argues that carbon markets will never deliver for southern governments, forests or people.

PDF iconWill carbon markets deliver?931.71 KB