Today in Murder Offsets

Bootleg Fire is burning up carbon offsets

Oregon's largest wildfire so far this season, the Bootleg Fire, has burned nearly 400,000 acres spreading approximately four square miles a day across the southern parts of the state. At the time of this report, the flames spread through one fifth of forests set aside for carbon offsets in the immediate area. [...]

A carbon offset can take many forms, but the large majority in the United States are created under the designation: Improved Forest Management. To be considered as this type of offset, the landowner must show that their forest performs above average as a carbon reducer when compared with other forests. Once approved, they earn a credit for every ton of CO2 their forests absorb. Those credits can be sold to a company looking to compensate for their own emissions, allowing them to claim carbon neutrality. The company can then hold or trade the credits until they are submitted to the government for compliance purposes. Credits aren't like traditional currency; once it's submitted, it is considered "retired" and cannot be used again. [...]

When wildfires burn up carbon offsets, it's not the responsibility of the landowner, the buyer of the credit, or the seller of the credit to evaluate whether that carbon credit still represents a metric ton of CO2 absorbed by trees. In reality, those trees represented by the credit may have burned up in the Bootleg Fire or the Chuweah Creek and Summit Trail fires burning on the Eastern Washington offset.

And if in only one or two seasons of wildfires, these wildfires strip away at the offset buffer pool, climate change will likely collect more of these carbon credits than CARB is prepared for.

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2 Responses:

  1. tfb says:

    And in related news, large parts of the Amazon are now net carbon sources.

    I'm not sure if this technically means we're now inevitably fucked ... but we are now inevitably fucked, of course.

    Pretty soon the same rich, entitled fucks who say that CV19 is now just something we have to live with and whose response to the vast number of notifications from proximity apps is to consider making those apps less sensitive will be saying that, well, climate change is just something we have to live with, especially poor brown people, who, of course, it will somehow not be possible to help.

    • Thomas Lord says:

      They've said that about the climate emergency for a long time already. Many of them have been (mis-)informed that warming of 2°C .. 3°C will ding GDP (and similar measures of economic growth) by 2% .. 3%, an amount which they believe will be swamped by the overall growth in GDP during the same period of time. "And by then the global society will be so rich that coming up with some kind of technical fix for climate change will be easy," they sometimes say.

      That point of view was largely attacked by the IPCC SR15 (2018) (the IPCC report that Greta Thunberg is always referencing). SR15 is a bit internally contradictory on this point but the science is clear that Business As Usual is a very, very bad idea. Other than occasional lip service, the rich and powerful have effectively ignored SR15. If you believe the science side of it, the rich and powerful have to voluntarily dismantle capitalism itself, or be made to, right quick.

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