"Carbon offset markets are widely discredited. Their only benefit lies in enriching the middlemen charged with selling the lie."
A leading U.S. green group on Wednesday dismissed a major carbon offset deal as a "scam," while underscoring such schemes' inefficacy at reducing emissions.
NextGen—a joint venture between Swiss carbon finance consultancy South Pole and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation—announced a "landmark" purchase of nearly 200,000 tons of carbon removal credits from three projects. These include a U.S. direct air capture project—a technology that extracts carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere—and a Finnish manufacturer of biochar, a black carbon substance derived from biomass.
NextGen chairman Philip Moss said the deal "provides an opportunity for the oil and gas sector to transition into cleaner activities."
While some scientists argue that CO2 extraction, either via natural or technological means, is needed in order to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, opponents call the technology a "false climate solution."
According to Food & Water Watch:
Carbon offset markets have been repeatedly exposed as fraudulent, ineffective schemes that do little to reduce emissions. Carbon dioxide removal is similarly proven to fail. Direct air capture produces between 2.2-3.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions for every ton captured; while an Illinois ethanol carbon capture facility often touted as proof of concept has increased emissions since installing the technology in 2017.
"Carbon offset markets are widely discredited. Their only benefit lies in enriching the middlemen charged with selling the lie—NextGen's scheme is no different," Food & Water Watch policy director Jim Walsh said in a statement. "Carbon capture is a costly and ineffective distraction from the real work of transitioning off dirty fossil and biofuels."
"Carbon capture is a costly and ineffective distraction from the real work of transitioning off dirty fossil and biofuels."
Nevertheless, in February, President Joe Biden's Energy Department announced more than $2.5 billion in funding for a pair of major carbon capture and storage projects, which it claims will "significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and hard-to-abate industrial operations" as part of the "effort critical to addressing the climate crisis and meeting the president's goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050."
Walsh argued that the Biden administration's "foolhardy embrace of failed carbon removal technologies" is "to blame for the latest corporate gold rush to sell the carbon capture scam."
"Bogus carbon capture offsets are no solution to the climate crisis," he added.