Guardian: Airlines Using Dubious Carbon Credits to Claim Carbon Neutral Operations

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Surprise – According to The Guardian, airline carbon credit “projects had routinely overstated their emissions reductions”.

Carbon offsets used by major airlines based on flawed system, warn experts

Guardian investigation finds carbon credits generated by forest protection schemes are based on flawed system

Patrick Greenfield @pgreenfielduk
Tue 4 May 2021 22.00 AEST

The forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning the system is not fit for purpose, an investigation has found.

Money from carbon offsets can provide vital financial support for projects seeking to protect and restore some of the most beautiful threatened ecosystems around the world. Given that nature-based solutions can make a significant contribution to the climate mitigation needed to stabilise global heating, a functioning finance channel will be important for climate change progress, and particularly for developing countries.

But a joint investigation into the offsetting schemes used by some of the world’s largest airlines carried out by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm, found that although many forest projects were doing valuable conservation work, the credits that they generated by preventing environmental destruction appear to be based on a flawed and much-criticised system, even though these credits were being used to back up claims of “carbon-neutral flying” and net-zero commitments.

Thales West, a scientist and former project auditor, led a study on schemes in the Brazilian Amazon that found that projects had routinely overstated their emissions reductions. He said that the methodologies “are not robust enough” which means “there is room for projects to generate credits that have no impact on the climate whatsoever”.

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Airlines are not alone allegedly cheating the system, recently the New Zealand government was accused of using dodgy accounting to exaggerate their emissions reduction “achievements”.

And of course, silicon valley greens, who noisily diss Conservatives and back green causes on the public stage, are regularly accused of collaborating with big oil, and giving energy intensive bitcoin a climate pass, despite the complete lack of necessity. Google even fired two ethics heads, allegedly because they committed the sin of pointing out Google’s AI push is burning a lot of carbon intensive electricity.

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for greens. They are surrounded by alleged cheats and liars on all sides. Imagine actually believing the planet is in peril – then watching everyone treat you like a fool. Surely only the dumbest greens could possibly be deceived by these transparent alleged deceptions.

Of course, that twinge of sympathy for greens quickly evaporates whenever I look at my energy bill.

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May 4, 2021 10:18 pm

Carbon intensive wind power, carbon intensive solar power, slave power, carbon-charged electric cars, carbon-emitting (not)high-speed rail, carbon-wasting demonstrations and shutdowns, carbon wasting climate conferences. Bet that the Guardian wastes more electricity than mining bitcoin. Let’s calculate Wapo and NYT in there, too.

May 4, 2021 10:25 pm

A scam article from the Guardian about a scam scamming another scam. Whoooo hoooo, aren’t we lucky living in the anthroposcamocene. Even my phone has started lying to me.

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  philincalifornia
May 4, 2021 10:29 pm

There is no umbrage more puffed up than false umbrage.

May 4, 2021 10:54 pm

Airlines are not alone amongst industries in using dubious Carbon Credits to Claim a Carbon Neutral operation (whatever that is). Fortunately as the whole business is just nonsensical, we can all relax and watch the whole circus roll on.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 5, 2021 1:01 pm

Some people in Callyfornia are questioning the Carbon Credits by the Clean Air Board….question the effectiveness….I give them credit or questioning the credits.

May 4, 2021 10:56 pm

We… they’re not alone. Sounds like an X-File.

That said, take a knee, beg, good girl.

Last edited 1 year ago by n.n
May 4, 2021 11:02 pm

I wonder whether airline passengers who have paid ‘carbon offsets’ could sue the airlines. If so, I expect a legal firm will start a class action. It’s a nice thought, anyway.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
May 5, 2021 10:59 am

Especially if the airlines could, in turn, sue the companies selling the offsets!

John Bruce
May 4, 2021 11:38 pm

I saw the latest green initiative from the US – 3D printed house fast easy cheap but oh no nobody pointed out the elephant in the room they are printed from the highest CO2 generated material Concrete yes 100% non structural toothpaste tube concrete no steel no strength
Well I guess the narrative was you can quickly erect these structures after a cyclone

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  John Bruce
May 4, 2021 11:48 pm

Normally cinder block concrete and brick walls do not have reinforcing. Reinforcing is for the slab.

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 5, 2021 12:03 am

And for uprights, depending on the earth quake zone you are in, but also lintels need them, as will a floor.

Gregory F Lane
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 5, 2021 3:44 am

There is certainly vertical reinforcing steel in all walls in FL./USA! 4′ on center, with all corners and either side of openings, and tied from ft’g. steel to tie beam steel, with added reinforcing for bearing wherever found. All is “sealed” by the E.O. R. as being as per the building cade (universal International Building Codes). This intensifies when in a Coastal high Hazard Zone.

Jus sayin’

Last edited 1 year ago by Gregory F Lane
Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Gregory F Lane
May 5, 2021 4:57 am

Not the same in Australia for domestic construction. It’s mostly brick veneer. Wood or steel frame with tiedown rods to stop roof coming off in high winds. I wouldn’t call that reinforcing. This was in cyclone areas of Queensland.
I reiterate that it was for single home dwellings. Of course, with reinforced concrete suspended floors you needed steel or reinforced concrete columns. I was in the construction game a number of years ago.

Gregory F Lane
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 5, 2021 7:05 am

I’m a Building Contractor in Florida, and we do a lot of those things too, just a bit differently. Coastal High Hazard (or Velocity Zone) construction utilizes Non-scour foundations (Pilings) to allow tidal flow (storm surge) under the homes “structure” without taking the house down with the surge … that’s the theory anyway. The good stories one sees after a Hurricane comes ashore is typically where these type homes perform as intended. Everything tied together from foundation through the roof. It is the Code now … Some Regulatory Authorities do not enforce with the same “vigor”

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
May 5, 2021 3:45 pm

Normally cinder block concrete and brick walls do not have reinforcing. Reinforcing is for the slab.

Not in cyclone/hurricane country, unless you want to rebuild after every one…

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  John Bruce
May 5, 2021 12:03 am

Concrete does reabsorb CO2 though, so over time I believe it becomes more neutral.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
May 5, 2021 1:00 am

Ignoring the steel.

Reply to  Matthew Sykes
May 5, 2021 10:19 am

I believe it becomes more neutral

Is “more neutral” the same as “more acidic”?

Reply to  John Bruce
May 5, 2021 3:45 am

“3d printed” concrete can be reinforced using “fibers” appropriate to the job.

There are multiple reasons for adding fibers in concrete. One of the main benefits of fibers are the homogenous distribution in the concrete. Other benefits include:

Matthew Sykes
May 5, 2021 12:01 am

Hey, you think only some people are allowed to massage figures in this BS game?

Ken Irwin
May 5, 2021 12:04 am

“Tell me how you measure me and I will tell you how I will behave.” Eliyahu M Goldratt.

The only logical thing to do when faced with draconian and unjustified legislation is to obfuscate, lie, cheat, steal etc. etc.

Colour me unsurprised.

The full quote is :-

“Tell me how you measure me and I will tell you how I will behave. If you measure me in an illogical way… do not complain about illogical behavior.”

Patrick MJD
May 5, 2021 12:39 am

Just like car makers. Tesla makes more money selling carbon credits to ICE car makers than the cars it makes itself.

Ben Vorlich
May 5, 2021 1:07 am

Virtually all UK electricity suppliers claim to supply 100% renewable or carbon neutral electricity on their TV adverts. I’ve never been able to workout where it comes from. Especially this when wind and solar (night and winter) have been conspicuous by their absence this year

May 5, 2021 1:23 am

Airlines are: “…cheating the system,” LOL

CO2 is not harmful, so it doesn’t matter what the airlines do.
the left is wrapped up in their climate emergency propaganda.
Where is Radio Free Europe to expose this climate propaganda?
Oh wait, I guess it’s been taken over by the EU propaganda people!

Last edited 1 year ago by
May 5, 2021 1:34 am

Is this news?

It’s been obvious for years that carbon credits are the climate religion’s version of indulgences. Why is anybody now surprised that it’s corrupt? It’s been corrupt from the very start.

Tom in Toronto
May 5, 2021 1:38 am

Shell keeps telling me that they offset the carbon emissions of the gasoline they sell me. And their fuel costs no more than everyone else’s.
Either they have discovered discovered new physics or somebody is lying.

Reply to  Tom in Toronto
May 5, 2021 2:11 am

The second-easiest way to offset “carbon” emissions is to set up your own wholly-owned plantation timber (lumber) company. That way your plantation timber company can run a normal commercial business while you end up marketing yourself as ‘carbon neutral’ and keeping all your money.

The easiest way to offset “carbon” emissions is to set up your own wholly-owned company that doesn’t grow trees.
“The carbon avoidance in these offsets are counterfactual math,” Goldberg said. “Maybe someone else can figure it out, but I can’t.” – from

Reply to  Mike Jonas
May 5, 2021 10:58 am

I planted several hundred plants last week, can I sell offsets?

May 5, 2021 3:48 am

Isn’t this the same thing Bill Gates does when he claims that all of his flying in private jets is off-set by buying carbon credits?

Bruce Cobb
May 5, 2021 4:55 am

The Grauniad “discovers” greenwashing?
Well, isn’t that special!

May 5, 2021 5:44 am

This article should be about the even more laughable claim that in celebrating their 200y anniversary “nothing has changed” in their reporting. Despite having gone from one of the most courageous and independant sources of investigative journalism to a blatantly partisan political campaign platform.

May 5, 2021 5:49 am

And what is the alternative?

Tom Waeghe
May 5, 2021 6:07 am

And we need carbon credits and lower CO2 concentrations why???

May 5, 2021 8:01 am

Took them long enough to catch on…

May 5, 2021 9:20 am

The Guardian is a founding member of the Covering Climate Now climate propaganda cabal. The so-called investigation was “carried out by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm“. Sure to be unbiased — NOT!

Rick C
May 5, 2021 10:18 am

I have 35 heavily wooded acres that I’m planning on cutting down and burning to improve the view. But, for the right amount of money I’m willing to sell the carbon credits for not clearing the land. I’ll be expecting for an offer from the airlines soon.

Albert H Brand
Reply to  Rick C
May 5, 2021 1:29 pm

Neat but don’t try that in ny Adirondacks. A neighbor up above me cut down trees to enhance property for resale. The town of Lake George determined that the new house would be too visible from the middle of the lake and required the new owner to plant several substantial trees to hide it. This was years ago. I doubt it has gotten any better.

May 5, 2021 10:43 am

“Carbon credits” are subject to state approval and regulation in every jurisdiction. That means they are also subject to change and can be used as gifts.

When I installed my solar panels, I opted for a grid tie which allowed me to sell excess power I generated to the utility company. But only to the point of zero on my electric bill. Any additional energy was free to the utility. That’s why sizing the system to my usage was important. I was also free to sell “carbon credits” to anyone who needed to buy them. After all, it was my cost and my decision to install “energy savings” to save the earth.

After they were installed, new legislation was authored and signed that eliminated my right to sell my “carbon credits” to anyone. Only the utility company could claim and sell them, because it wasn’t fair to them to have to buy my excess. But along with that gift to the electric utilities, I had to pay the additional cost of carbon credits for every other source of energy I use, such as natural gas, diesel and gasoline.

Yes, it was in California and yes, it was Jerry Brown who signed the bait and switch legislation. And thats why California has the most expensive energy prices in the US.

Brooks H Hurd
May 6, 2021 10:06 am

In my opinion, the whole carbon offset business is highly suspect. One article I read on offsets concluded that it was the only business on the planet where not only the seller, but also the buyer want the value of the offsets to be as high as possible. I am therefore not surprised that anyone who audits offset transactions would find causes for concern.

Charles Fairbairn
May 6, 2021 11:03 am

I am with Octopus as a supplier which claims 100% carbon free energy; but very disappointed that I don’t get any of these indulgence carbon certificates popping out from my wall sockets. After all I am paying for them ; so where are they?

Ah well; I suppose the cash goes to someone planting dandelion and spaghetti trees as carbon sinks or whatever. So who am I to worry about these things.? Big Brother will take care of everything.

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