Greenpeace Says Bolivian Offset Project is One Big Carbon Scam & US Electric Companies Behind It

carbon scam greenpeace photo

photo: Greenpeace

Here's a good example of how not to do carbon offsets, as well as the potential danger in relying on sub-national REDD offset programs rather than reducing emissions at the source: Greenpeace USA has just released a new report highlight the failures of the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia, sponsored by American Electric Power, BP, and PacifiCorp. Basically, not only is it reducing emissions 90% less than promised, deforestation has actually increased elsewhere:Project Expanded Bolivian Protected Forest
NKCAP was established in 1997, at the expense of millions of dollars, used to expand protected forest around Bolivia's Noel Kempff national park. This was done so that carbon offset credits could be produced and used to offset emissions created elsewhere.

Greenpeace points out, "NKCAP has been widely showcased by polluters as a model project to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation."

But Reduces Far Fewer Emissions Than Claimed
However, the Carbon Scam report shows how from 1997-2009 NKCAP's emission reductions were estimated to be 55 million metric tons per year, but in reality only "as much as" 5.8 million tons of CO2 were actually offset.

Furthermore, the report shows that project sponsors avoided documenting how much leakage occurred -- did logging just shift from the project are to new areas, thereby undermining the validity of the carbon credits? This investigation shows that leakage from NKCAP could be as high as 42-60%.

Fund REDD Through Pollution Permits Not Sub-national Offsets
Greenpeace senior campaigner Rolf Skar touted the importance of all this,

This report should end speculation that sub-national carbon offset projects can be used to reliably cut carbon emissions. The fundamental uncertainties at the core of sub-national REDD offsets are not ones that can be resolved with technical tinkering and quick fixes. They require a leap of faith. We simply shouldn't gamble with our climate.

Rather than sub-national programs such as this, Greenpeace says "REDD should be financed through a large, predictable supply of revenues from pollution permits. [These] funds could be used more efficiently and broadly to end deforestation worldwide, avoiding the dangers of forest offsets."

Read the original report: Carbon Scam: Noel Kempff Climate Action Project and the Push for Sub-national Forest Offsets
Nature Conservancy Says It's Not That Simple...
By the way, the Nature Conservancy has a rather different take on the NKCAP. Saying "based on our experience working on the ground for more than a decade to develop high quality forest carbon projects," they "respectfully disagree" with Greenpeace's conclusions.

The Noel Kempff project also serves as an example of how well-designed forest carbon projects can result in real, scientifically measurable and verifiable emissions reductions with important benefits for biodiversity and local communities.

Check out their response: Cool Green Science
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