Carbon Offsets: Want to Get Sued? (Greenwashing as Illegality)

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — October 5, 2022

“ClientEarth lawyers have developed a legal briefing that unpacks the problems with carbon offsets and why businesses relying on them should prepare for legal action.”

“… ‘quality’ in the unregulated carbon credit market can be hard to come by, and harder still to verify…. Another issue is there simply isn’t enough room on the planet to plant the number of trees needed … without harming food supply.”

A recent article in ClientEarth, Why carbon offsets don’t work, and the legal risks of marketing them, should send chills down the spine of corporations (and others) that are trying to be “green” despite their natural dependence on fossil fuels. The charge? … “so-called carbon ‘offsets’ hide a massive climate problem and pose a significant legal risk to the companies marketing them.”

The September 30th article begins:

If you’ve bought a flight lately, or filled your car with petrol, you’ve likely been offered a product to ‘offset’ the climate impact of your purchase. While promoted as a solution to the climate crisis, these so-called carbon ‘offsets’ hide a massive climate problem and pose a significant legal risk to the companies marketing them.

ClientEarth lawyers have developed a legal briefing that unpacks the problems with carbon offsets and why businesses relying on them should prepare for legal action….

Carbon offsets are defined as follows:

A carbon credit is calculated to remove or avoid 1 tonne of CO2, which is around the same as the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in a flight from Paris to New York. The purchase of these credits contributes to projects which aim to help mitigate climate instability through funding new technological or natural solutions.

Natural projects, not offset-related, are blessed by ClientEarth:

These natural projects can be valuable in fighting climate change. Good examples support local communities and can help to protect critical natural ecosystems, such as forests, that act as ‘carbon sinks’ absorbing harmful greenhouse gases.

But here are the problems, some of which were described in yesterday’s post:

But ‘quality’ in the unregulated carbon credit market can be hard to come by, and harder still to verify. Often described as a ‘wild west’ industry, too many projects have been found to harm the interests of local communities and offer false claims of actually making a difference to the amount of CO2 absorbed and stored.

Another issue is there simply isn’t enough room on the planet to plant the number of trees needed to counterbalance the current level of global emissions without harming food supply. To put this into perspective, a single oil and gas company plans to use a tenth of the globally available unused land to ‘offset’ its emissions. Enhancing natural sinks will only get us so far, getting to net zero by 2050 is not possible without a hard and fast reduction in emissions.

Carbon credits are not offsets, the article continues, but donations:

Carbon credits are not offsets in the way that a profit offsets a loss. The accurate label for these credits is simply a donation towards climate-friendly projects and not, as marketing for high-carbon products often claims, as a means to ‘offset’ the harmful climate impacts of the things we buy.

Legal issues to such “greenwashing” are in process around the world. 

The flawed nature of carbon ‘offsetting’ is attracting a range of legal risks: non-compliance, shareholder action, litigation, and regulatory enforcement.

In the Netherlands, Shell has been reprimanded twice in succession, first for advertising ‘CO2-neutral’ car petrol, then for trying a different claim that carbon credits mean ‘CO2 compensation’.

Dutch airline KLM is facing a court action, which we’re supporting, for breaching consumer law with its CO2 compensation marketing. Total Energies is facing a similar case.

In Germany, a claim is being brought against a list of companies for misleading ‘carbon neutral’ claims.

In the US, financial regulators are getting interested in carbon credit markets. And in France, the government has adopted a new law requiring companies to clarify how emissions are being actually reduced before being offset. The list goes on.

Different laws come into play:

Bans on companies misleading consumers exist in consumer protection laws and advertising regulations in countries all over the world. Using ‘carbon neutral’ or compensation marketing, and giving consumers the impression that the climate impact of high-carbon products is thereby addressed, raises a real risk of being found to breach these prohibitions.

And for companies relying on carbon offsetting in their corporate transition plans, that range of risks increases – with even company directors liable to be held accountable over miscommunication on the impact ‘offsetting’ has on emissions reductions.

Carbon credits are not a “magic wand,” and they distract from real emission reductions. It is mitigation or bust ….

The legal risk of offsetting marketing is growing – but so too is the risk that we blow opportunities to reduce real-world emissions if false schemes continue to proliferate.

To meet climate goals, financial support must be directed at efforts to protect the world’s vital ecosystems, as well as green technologies, and cover the huge funding gap for climate loss and damage. This is where financial contributions through carbon credits can have a valuable role to play, but incentivising finance must not provide a perverse incentive to delay critical reduction measures…. The only way out of this crisis is to stop pumping out greenhouse gases at the current devastating rate. Blurring the picture with fictional offsetting only delays that vital action.

Final Comment

The radical environmentalists’ war on “greenwashing” is a major front in the futile crusade for CO2 mitigation. Perhaps true environmentalists should redirect their aim at grid-connected wind, solar, and batteries instead. A machine in every pristine is hardly ecological, and their sponsors are no more “green” than the average person desiring clean air and water.

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Tom Halla
October 5, 2022 6:11 pm

Carbon credits are the equivalent of indulgences.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 6, 2022 2:29 am

I agree. As long as you are taking power from the grid, you are not carbon neutral, not to mention all the ancillary CO2 emissions caused by the very existence of your business. It is a total fraud.

Reply to  Tom.1
October 6, 2022 6:09 am

But a very profitable fraud, for some practitioners.
And, like medieval Indulgences, no practical difference is made to the make-up of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Even if that were to be a problem.
Remember that – to the nearest one-tenth of one percent – there is zero CO2 in our atmosphere.
A bit more plant food would be good.


Reply to  Tom Halla
October 6, 2022 10:07 am

Yep, and where is our Martin Luther to drive out the indulgences?

October 5, 2022 6:52 pm

Al Gore was one of the pioneers of this scam.

Reply to  Independent
October 5, 2022 11:47 pm

And look where that got him

On leaving office he was worth $1-2m, now $300m.

Being at the top of a pyramid scheme sure pays well

Tom Gelsthorpe
October 5, 2022 6:57 pm

When is the Enviro Martin Luther going to come along and end the smarmy, sleazy, corrupt shakedown of carbon “indulgences”?

Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
October 5, 2022 7:57 pm

Maybe Putin could do it if he survives the next year.

Reply to  Scissor
October 5, 2022 8:28 pm

He’s too busy trying to put the Soviet Union back together.

Reply to  MarkW
October 6, 2022 5:33 am

Without being in any way partisan about the subject, being that Putin has taken on NATO in all but name in Ukraine, I think the west has underperformed rather badly compared to Russia.

More than the annual (2021) Russian defence budget squandered in about 7 months by NATO and Putin is still holding much of eastern Ukraine.

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 6:53 am

At no human cost to NATO the Ukrainians have the Russians in retreat. they have outfought them at every turn, thanks (somewhat) to the support provided by the West. The Russians have been shown to be paper tigers, unable to beat up a smaller kid on the playground. Their nukes are the only real threat they pose.

From this US taxpayer, it’s worth every dime we send to Ukraine to keep that deluded imperialist busy, without sending my sons off to fight.

jeffery p
Reply to  Dave Yaussy
October 6, 2022 7:58 am

I’m of a mixed mind on this. Our military is under-funded and now we have depleted our supplies of many important weapon systems by supporting Ukraine. We can not afford this now with all of Biden’s wasteful spending.

On the other hand, can we afford to not support Ukraine? The long-term costs of a Russian victory are likely many times more than what we’re spending now.

China remains the bigger threat. We can’t take our eyes off Asia while thwarting Putin. Other Nato nations and EU members need to do more.

Last edited 1 month ago by jeffery p
Reply to  Dave Yaussy
October 6, 2022 8:28 am

At no human cost to NATO

Yep, they’ll fight to the last Ukrainian.

The Russians have been shown to be paper tigers

To date, the Russians have occupied and held referendums (irrespective of their legality) in four regions of Ukraine.

Ukraine has won some minor skirmishes, the largest of which is around Liman from where the Russians recently withdrew.

Liman is a town of (formerly) 15,000 inhabitants, with no industry and no transport links. It’s not, therefore, of strategic importance. As one observer put it, it’s a vanity project for Ukraine.

Russia is now calling up 300,000 reservist’s (that’s former regular, experienced, professional soldiers) many of whom will relieve existing units deployed elsewhere in Russia to move to Ukraine.

The remained will be deployed as support for current professional soldiers on the battlefronts.

NATO’s equipment reserves are now believed to be threatening the west’s own security if we keep supplying unlimited amounts to Ukraine. Biden already left $80Bn of equipment in Afghanistan. This stuff doesn’t grow on trees.

Zelensky has asked for American M1 Abrams and German Leopard battle tanks as most of their former USSR tanks have been destroyed. They were refused.

Without even addressing casualties on both sides, Russia has a population three times that of Ukraine. Were both sides reduced to employing conscripted civilians Russia would still have the advantage.

The wet Autumn season in full swing now and both sides are largely bogged down. When the first frost’s arrive to harden the ground, Russia will have 300,000 fresh troops to supplement the 100,000 conservatively estimated to be there right now.

From memory, I believe Ukraine’s total armed forces were 400,000 before losses.

I think it was in March when Putin was happy to negotiate with Zelensky in Istanbul. Boris Johnson persuaded him to fight Russia.

Russia has so far left Ukraine’s infrastructure largely intact. They haven’t targeted water, electricity, internet or even 1,000 mile long supply lines. I’m not convinced that will continue when the battle changes from a Special Military Operation to support eastern Ukraine militia to an all out war to defend the new Russian boundaries.

If those negotiations don’t happen before the early frost’s I suspect Ukraine will be overrun by properly equipped, superior Russian forces by springtime. I would be shocked if things went on to the summer.

There is no need for nuclear weapons, this is all western propaganda to solicit popular support in the west for Ukraine.

I take no sides in this confrontation. No one is the good guy here. All I can do is present as much fact as I can find.

Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 9:31 am

“Russia is now calling up 300,000 reservist’s”

I’ve been hearing this for some time now. Where are they? How long does it take to call them up?

I’ve also been hearing about people, mostly young men, fleeing the country, and a bunch of local governors petitioning Putin to withdraw – actually putting their names to paper in opposition.

Reply to  TonyG
October 7, 2022 1:45 am

It’s heading into the wet season in Ukraine when everything is bogged down. Analyst’s I know of maintain Russia is using this period to bolster their forces. When the ground freezes it’s anticipated there will be a big Russian push. They can’t do nothing or they would be stuck in a never ending war whilst NATO builds up weapons stock to provide Ukraine with.

Some young men always flee when there is a chance of being called up to fight in every country. Why do you imagine Russians are any less patriotic than Americans or Brits? Usual propaganda.

I haven’t heard anything about officials petitioning Putin to withdraw although I guess there are some. It rather demonstrates the health of the democratic state that people maintain doesn’t exist in Russia, does it not?

Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 11:15 am

With all the excitement about recent Ukrainian advances, I am reminded of the strategic retreats of Lord Wellington to protect his troops and equipment in Spain.

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Yaussy
October 6, 2022 11:37 am

Try completely due to support from the West. The attacks on Russian supply hubs were only possible due to the US and UK artillery systems which were a key part of their advances.

Reply to  Scissor
October 6, 2022 6:11 am

If Chairman Xi becomes a de facto Global Ruler, expect the watermelons to vanish like the morning mist.
Along with the freedoms of everyone else. Sadly.


jeffery p
Reply to  Scissor
October 6, 2022 7:45 am

WTF would Putin want to do that? How would he benefit?

October 5, 2022 7:43 pm

Finally. It’s been an embarrassment from day one.

October 5, 2022 7:47 pm

I get my carbon offsets from:

Reply to  StuM
October 5, 2022 7:59 pm

Thanks for that. Just got 2 trillion in carbon offsets. Cheers

Reply to  Scissor
October 5, 2022 8:56 pm

Great! I feel so virtuous after downloading my certificate: 2,.000 Offsets.
Scissor: 2T offsets? You have just saved the entire planet !!! Awesome!
/sarc is now off.
[The average American produces ~ 20 tons CO2/year x 100 years. Yes, I’m being
optimistic. I’m assuming the Greens will not be able to force everyone to live with
the CO2 footprint of say, a Haitian or Somalian. Of course that will depend to great extent what happens in the Nov USA elections]

btw Here in Arizona we had another gorgeous day, all thanks to “climate change”.

Reply to  B Zipperer
October 5, 2022 10:01 pm

B Zipperer: btw Here in Arizona we had another gorgeous day, all thanks to “climate change”.

Ya gotta take the good with the bad, B. If Climate Change causes bad weather, it also has to cause the good weather.

It’s a sad commentary on the level of indoctrination that’s been achieved when the average sheeple believes every ‘bad’ weather event is proof of Climate Change™, but all the ‘Picnic Sundays’ are just weather.

That is some serious brainwashing.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  H.R.
October 6, 2022 5:47 am

“That is some serious brainwashing.”

There has never been this level of brainwashing in world history.

Today is a perfect climate for propagandists, with global, instant communications.

The only fly in the ointment for the propagandists is they don’t convince 100 percent of the people. The danger from them is they convince 51 percent of the people.

The good news is: The News Media, the chief propaganda organ for the Democrat Party and other socialist movements in the Western Democracies, has a lower approval rating than used car dealers, and Congress.

Still, they are a great danger to the personal freedoms of all of us because their lies can cause people to vote against their own best interests, thinking they are doing just the opposite, because of the lies they have been told by the propagandists. A good example is the propagandists made millions of people think it was a good idea to vote for a fool like Joe Biden.

The Propaganda Media’s next task is to swing the vote to the Democrats in November. Let’s see if they are successful or not. That will tell us a lot about our future, and about how much influence the corrupt Leftwing News Media really has.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Scissor
October 5, 2022 11:49 pm

I got 10,000,000 so I’m set for life now

Thanks for the link

Reply to  Scissor
October 6, 2022 2:11 am

Feel better now?

S.K. Jasper
Reply to  StuM
October 5, 2022 9:37 pm

This is awesome! I started out with an initial investment of 2,500,000. My self esteem and sense of virtue has now been fortified. I can sleep well tonight and walk tall tomorrow.

Reply to  S.K. Jasper
October 5, 2022 10:05 pm

I only have 2,000. I am not worthy, O Great Virtue Signaler.

Reply to  H.R.
October 6, 2022 7:03 am

I am obviously better than you ‘cos I have a million.
So there!

Reply to  Oldseadog
October 6, 2022 8:23 am


October 5, 2022 8:23 pm

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

So Carbon credits are just a scam?
Who knew?

The battalions of shyster lawyers already rubbing their hands?

Perhaps my grandkids will be able to mount legal action against the politicians and media and incompetent, venal “psyentists” and all the crony capitalists; when all the bazillions of taxpayers’ money prove to have failed to prevent a single hurricane, a single very hot day, a single flood.

But, by then, the Great, Globalist, Big Brothers will have been able to destroy anyone remaining, who thinks too much.

Jeff Alberts
October 5, 2022 10:38 pm

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”

Especially after burritos and onion rings.

The Other Nick
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 6, 2022 7:16 am

Especially after burritos and onion rings.

No good, not a reliable source of sufficient renewable wind power.
The Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus Tuberosus) more efficient with a high positive that both wind and plant very renewable.

jeffery p
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 6, 2022 8:00 am

That’s increased greenhouse gas emissions right there, that’s what that is.

October 6, 2022 5:36 am

That’s the beauty of politics. Anyone making decisions that affects people 50 years hence will likely be dead by then.

Old Man Winter
October 5, 2022 8:33 pm

Real pollution from real polluters who paid NO trash or carbon offsets but
left us to pay for cleaning up their mess!

Reply to  Old Man Winter
October 5, 2022 10:12 pm

When called on that, as I recall, the organizer responded with something like “Oops. Yeah, we shouldn’t have done that. But we still believe in protecting the environment and Saving The Planet. Sorry. Our bad.”

John Hultquist
October 5, 2022 8:45 pm

I have 18 acres of trees, woody shrubs, grasses and such.
And I last flew 22 years ago.
Can I get an engraved plaque or something?

Reply to  John Hultquist
October 6, 2022 3:39 am

You should at least get a free keychain, John.

Gregory Woods
Reply to  John Hultquist
October 6, 2022 3:41 am

My wife has a lot of greeny plants growing on the balcony. How many offsets is that worth? Can I sell you some offsets?

Reply to  Gregory Woods
October 6, 2022 11:23 am

I can better that with the weeds in my garden.

Reply to  John Hultquist
October 6, 2022 5:37 am

You can fly???!!!! 😃

Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 8:25 am

John is getting older. His arms get too tired now, HotScot.

John Hultquist
Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 9:17 am

Living in a rural area I see many types of birds. Watching the different ones “fly” inspires awe and fantasy.
See the wiki entry for wiki entry for Walter_Mitty.

Gunga Din
Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 9:26 am

Probably the last time he had White Castes and/or Skyline.

Reply to  John Hultquist
October 6, 2022 11:23 am

The “greenest” member of my family is planning for retirement: 4 months Germany; 4 months Costa Rica; 4 months island home in BC.

October 5, 2022 9:08 pm

This is what net zero is all about. Everybody and I mean everybody knows we can not and do not want to live in a fossil fuel free environment, it is impossible. But to admit that the green devils would be revealed for the liars that they are. Instead they prolong this nonsense by telling yet more lies trying to make people believe they can buy their way to a better world. They make me sick. CO2 is not the control knob for global climate and the earth is not going to reach some imaginary tipping point. All lies.

Reply to  Bob
October 6, 2022 5:44 am

I don’t think there will be much sympathy for green issues in Europe following the coming winter.

I’ll be inviting some of those who have accused me of “science denial” into my house when the blackouts hit to demonstrate the invaluable contribution a standby petrol generator to ‘personal warming’ before sending them home to their ‘globally warmed’ homes.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, in this case quite literally.

Reply to  HotScot
October 6, 2022 8:16 pm

That reminds me of the y2k panic, people were afraid the grid would fail. Many of my friends asked if I was going to buy a generator. I told them no but just in case I was keeping track of who was buying them so I’d know where to get one for myself. If you know what I mean? That New Year’s Eve I went to bed about 10:00 pm and left instructions for my son to wake me if the world went to hell.

John Robertson
October 5, 2022 9:26 pm

The same logic can and will be applied to these “planet Savers”.
Given their reliance upon “The science” a product totally owned by its funders,they are all guilty of false claims and extortion..
That old saying,”Careful what you wish for” applies equally to the Cult of Calamitous Climate..
For Green Indulgences are as real as their “Climate Emergency”,to prove one a fraud will bring down the other…
Of course the members are too well indoctrinated to comprehend these simple observations..for it takes wilful deliberate ignorance of science and history to believe in this nonsense..
If the Gang of Green cannot tolerate their fellow travellers,they condemn themselves..forward! faster ! harder!

Reply to  John Robertson
October 5, 2022 9:51 pm

Not ignorance of history.


October 6, 2022 1:52 am

Isn’t this yet another example of “we told you so”.

Tom Abbott
October 6, 2022 5:32 am

From the article: “Using ‘carbon neutral’ or compensation marketing, and giving consumers the impression that the climate impact of high-carbon products is thereby addressed, raises a real risk of being found to breach these prohibitions.”

Giving people the impression that CO2 is a dangerous gas that needs to be regulated should also be subject to lawsuits since there is no evidence that CO2 is doing any harm to anything.

Lawyers ought to be demanding independent varification of alarmist CO2 claims. The People deserve to know the truth. They are not being told the truth now. Instead, they are being given unsubstantiated assumptions and assertions as the truth.

The Alarmist CO2 case is easy to poke holes in. Lawyers for CO2 sanity should start pointing this out.

Take the Alarmists to court and make them prove their CO2 claims. Elon should hire some CO2 lawyers and take the Green New Deal to court. Force them to justify their ruinous actions. They can’t do it.

Peta of Newark
October 6, 2022 7:22 am

Curiosity got me..
Earth is in total 5e14 square metres..
or = 124e11 acres

An acre of Douglas Fir pulls down 5 Tonnes of CO2 per acre per year
Taking emissions as 40 Gigatonnes per year means…
…….8e9 (eight billion) acres of trees
…compared to total land area of 37 Billion acres

Just about do-able innit, especially if we repaired places like Australia, Sahara, Fertile Crescent and the Gobi.
If trees were growing on those places. The Climate certainly would change – and totally nothing. zilch, nada or sweet-FA to do with CO2
It really really would.

Especially over the North Atlantic. All those trees on the Sahara would bring the Azores High to a grinding halt just for starters. And what would happen in Europe as a consequence would ‘pretty interesting’
And for hurricane tracks in the Caribbean.

BUT, if the Azores High slowed or stopped, would any hurricanes ever get across the pond from the Cape Verde Islands where many of them form?

Back on topic to green-washing and the electric utility I’m with here in the UK – company name of EON (now changed to EON-next)
They incessantly claim that all, not just a little bit, they say that all their electricity comes from Green Sources.

It constantly amazes and amuses how they can say that.
Not in any way ‘funny’ they are, and n no particular order…

  • Lying
  • Lying
  • Lying

Just how do they do that and why does no-one pull them up over it?

jeffery P
October 6, 2022 7:43 am

What will the democrats do now? The trial lawyers are one of their big-money special interest groups. The environmentalists are on of the other. Which group will prevail in getting their agenda supported?

Last edited 1 month ago by jeffery P
October 6, 2022 2:35 pm

Green Washing is a very lucrative fraud. Like Mediaeval Indulgences issued by the Catholic Church they make money but do nothing good for morality or society, or in this case, the environment.

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