Carbon trading is the process of buying and selling permits and credits to emit carbon dioxide.
All carbon trading systems have been beset with problems and corruption, and yet some countries and industries (such as the aviation industry) continue to suggest carbon trading can tackle rising emissions.
Scientists have defined the amount of carbon dioxide we can release globally and still meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming below two degrees, and aspiring for 1.5 degrees. This “carbon budget” has no wiggle room. It requires us to shift to a low carbon energy, agriculture, transport and industrial world now, whilst at the same time removing some carbon dioxide from the air with restoration of forests. The best way to do this is through direct regulation.
Carbon trading is seen as a holy grail for those who believe it could be a source of finance for efforts to plant trees and protect forests. But this does not add up in climate terms. Trees can never offset the permanent release of fossil carbon into the atmosphere, and there is no evidence that carbon trading is providing anywhere near enough money to incentivise forest protection.
Fern’s work has blocked EU plans to include forests in its Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and stopped the UK and the EU from engaging in biodiversity offsetting.
Fern believes that carbon trading, forest offsets and biodiversity offsetting are dangerous distractions which allow people, organisations and countries to continue emitting or destroying when it would otherwise be forbidden.
Carbon trading related resources
Unearned credit: Why aviation industry forest offsets are doomed to fail
Unlike other sectors, international aviation is not included in 2015’s Paris Agreement. This has allowed aviation to lag behind other sectors when it comes to reducing emissions. In the face of mounting criticism, the...
Cheating the climate: the problems with aviation industry plans to offset emissions
The UN Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas does not cover emissions from international aviation. These are regulated by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has been tasked with adopting a proposal...
Who takes the credit? REDD+ in a post-2020 UN climate agreement
This briefing note addresses the risks that could arise if Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) were to be included in an international climate agreement. Specifically, it looks at ‘double-counting’,...
Fighting Fossil Fuels First Making EU climate policy work for people and forests
This study refocuses attention on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically, without offloading responsibilities onto other countries through offsets. It explores why forests cannot offset fossil fuel emissions; and...