Claim: 90% of Verra Carbon Credits are worthless “Phantom Credits”

Essay by Eric Worrall

The Guardian has accused Verra Carbon, which sells credits to climate champions like Disney, Shell and Gucci, of not being worth the paper they are printed on.

Revealed: more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless, analysis shows

Investigation into Verra carbon standard finds most are ‘phantom credits’ and may worsen global heating

Patrick Greenfield
@pgreenfielduk Thu 19 Jan 2023 01.00 AEDT

The forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading provider and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci and other big corporations are largely worthless and could make global heating worse, according to a new investigation.

The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn (£1.6bn) voluntary offsets market, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.

The analysis raises questions over the credits bought by a number of internationally renowned companies – some of them have labelled their products “carbon neutral”, or have told their consumers they can fly, buy new clothes or eat certain foods without making the climate crisis worse.

The nine-month investigation has been undertaken by the Guardian, the German weekly Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, a non-profit investigative journalism organisation. It is based on new analysis of scientific studies of Verra’s rainforest schemes.

Read more:

Vera Carbon issued the following response;

Verra Response to Guardian Article on Carbon Offsets

18 JANUARY 2023

  • The Guardian, based on work with Die Zeit and SourceMaterial has incorrectly claimed that Verra-certified REDD+ projects are consistently and substantively over-issuing carbon credits.
  • The claims in this article are based on studies using “synthetic controls” or similar methods that do not account for project-specific factors that cause deforestation. As a result, these studies massively miscalculate the impact of REDD+ projects.
  • Verra develops and continually improves methodologies based on the best-available science and technology through rigorous consultations with many academics and experts. This ensures that project baselines used to calculate carbon credits are robust and a credible benchmark against which to measure the impact of REDD+ projects.

Verra is disappointed to see the publication of an article in the Guardian, developed with Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, incorrectly claiming that REDD+ projects are consistently and substantively over-issuing carbon credits. Verra worked closely with both publications in the run-up to the publication to explain why this claim is untrue, as it is based on studies that use a “synthetic control” approach or similar methods. We want to share this information with our stakeholders and the wider climate community.

Read more:

As far as I know The Guardian has not claimed the purchasers of the credits were aware of the alleged low quality of Vera’s credits.

What can I say? I doubt any of us are surprised that an economically worthless invisible product which companies purchase to burnish their green credentials has attracted accusations of misrepresentation.

I have no idea whether the Guardian’s accusations are true, but if Vera are an honest provider of carbon credits, in my opinion they are probably very lonely.

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Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:06 am

My attitude towards bogus Carbon Credits is just like my attitude towards fraudulent organic foods. Both are products sold by rogues to fools.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:21 am

There’s a shop in the red light district of Amsterdam in which all the girls are virgins. It’s been there since the 1400’s.

Reply to  Scissor
January 21, 2023 1:53 pm

It’s true. The girls haven’t had sex in the last 10 minutes. It all depends on your definition of virgin.

Stephen Philbrick
Reply to  Scissor
January 21, 2023 6:39 pm

I’m sure some identify as virgins, and woe to the person who dares disagree.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:27 am

The problem is, all this fake wealth is backed by what amounts to corporate taxes on useless eaters. I believe the entire scam is actually pyramiding up to Al Gore, who was given some divine anointment to create this scam. Kerry has some part in it too, I think. I did not bother to take notes in class, as it were, and forget details.At the time this was announced, I ignored it, thought it comical, or the hallucinations of a newly-minted whorenalist.
Boy, was I wrong!

Reply to  cilo
January 21, 2023 1:14 pm

Redistributive change schemes (e.g. single/central/monopolistic) have a minority orientation.

Reply to  cilo
January 22, 2023 7:50 am

I think those two idiots are just opportunists, they saw a chance to make large coin, and jumped on it with both faces.

Steve Case
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:37 am

BINGO “Organic” food is a scheme to sell grade “B” produce for more than Grade “A”.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Steve Case
January 21, 2023 10:47 am

Organic is renamed biodynamic agriculture, a product of the same sort of rejection of science that gave rise to Ariosophy and the NSDAP. Heinrich Himmler was a particular fan of biodynamic farming. More of a woo-woo cult than a conspiracy.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 11:44 am

Yes, biodynamics was invented by the mad Austrian Rudolf Steiner, occultist, social reformer, architect, esotericist, and claimed clairvoyant. That’s were all the woo came from.

Reply to  Yirgach
January 21, 2023 10:47 pm

I thought it came from the cows.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:13 pm

Our Australian Broadcasting Commission, ABC, has for 30 years published a magazine named “Gardening”. For much of that time, paying homage to woke, it has also produced “Organic Gardening”. I have not read either for nearly 30 years because I do not think the charter of the ABC should publish word salad.
Research publications from time to time show organic gardening concepts, if they were applied at large scale, would be expensive, low yield efficiency, pest-ridden and generally a fail on most points. Yet our ABC continues to virtue signal.
Surely better, more productive jobs could be found for ABC people writing and publishing silly gardening nonsense. But, this style of silliness seems on the increase. Why? Geoff S

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 1:35 pm

Isn’t all food that is grown, raised or born, organic? Hard to eat rocks. Of course, the warmistas and Davoisie want us to eat stone soup.

Tom Halla
Reply to  slowroll
January 21, 2023 2:01 pm

Robert Rodale, who ran a magazine, Prevention, which was a forum for “alternative medicine”, I. e. quacks, did not have much respect for or knowledge of science. Getting rid of the Nazi connection was more important when he called it “ organic”.

John Hultquist
Reply to  slowroll
January 22, 2023 5:59 pm

“Stone Soup” can be very good.
Stone Soup – Wikipedia

Gary Pate
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 21, 2023 10:44 pm

I’ve always said buying organic just proves you have more money than brains…

Reply to  Gary Pate
January 21, 2023 11:19 pm


We cook the bejeezus out of most produce anyway, so any “benefits” of unfertilized ingredients are left in the bottom of the pot / frying pan / roasting dish anyway.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 22, 2023 4:27 am

Tom, tou are right. Now retired, I have worked 20+ years in agricultural production. I know the… “state of the art”, let’s call it like this to make a loooong story short, of the different brands of food production in my country (and in a few other EU countries). In the supermarket I avoid EVERY single product marked “bio”.

Paul S
January 21, 2023 10:14 am

I can buy Indulgences and the Church can become wealthy. Any correlation here?

Reply to  Paul S
January 21, 2023 10:23 am

Al says, “no” but he would like to make you an offer.

Reply to  Scissor
January 21, 2023 11:55 am

Wasn’t Fat Albert’s rant at the latest WEF gabfest reminiscent of an Al Sharpton or Jules from Pulp Fiction ( the great Samuel L. Jackson) style fire & brimstone pulpit-preach?

Reply to  Mr.
January 22, 2023 11:10 am

Or Hitler with the hand movements?

Reply to  Paul S
January 21, 2023 11:17 am

Yes, the modern model normalizes abort, cannibalize, sequester babies.. uh, carbon, for benefits.

Last edited 5 days ago by n.n
Reply to  Paul S
January 21, 2023 1:31 pm

What we need us a Martin Luther to nail objections on the door of the warmunist frauds.

Reply to  slowroll
January 21, 2023 4:07 pm

personally I’d prefer to nail it to their foreheads

Reply to  stpaulchuck
January 22, 2023 9:09 am

They’re both made of wood

E. Schaffer
January 21, 2023 10:17 am

Sale of indulgences a fraud? I personally refuse to believe that!

Reply to  E. Schaffer
January 21, 2023 11:38 am

The temperature trends must be perceived to be rising, and projected to continue to rise, as a psychological mechanism to prop up the value of these virtual assets.

The value of the transaction can only be measured in a sense of virtue. If that virtue is found to be unfounded, the value disappears.

In a real physical market, a barrel of oil or a sack of potatoes has real intrinsic value, for example. In virtual markets, such as trading in invisible trace gas, the value is based solely on perception.

Reply to  JCM
January 21, 2023 2:17 pm

There is a perception that the USD has value. An ever increasing portion of that value is now derived from the willingness of countries like China and Japan to accept US denominated debt.

As China’s manufacturing dominance grows, there will be a point where they question the value of holding US debt.

As US moves further down the virtue signalling path more than the value of carbon credits will disintegrate.

US has not made much progress toward NutZero. It will need to dramatically up its imports from China to make real progress because the whole effort relies on China’s ability to mine and burn coal to make all the NutZero stuff..

Screen Shot 2023-01-22 at 9.12.39 am.png
January 21, 2023 10:21 am

Checking out their site to see what scam they run, I see it is the usual; rich, entitled kids traveling to exotic locations to “monitor” the barbarians.
Still, they seem not to have the chutzpah of the bloke selling carbon credits on the algae he says he grows out in the Gulf.

Rud Istvan
January 21, 2023 10:29 am

I did a little research before commenting. The journo’s looked at a variety of Verra projects. They used satellite imagery to conclude that deforestation was happening where Verra said it was protecting forests by preventing deforestation, and that Verra overstated the deforestation threat it then ‘carbon protected’ by an average of 400%.
Looks like the Guardian nailed them for faux green washing.
Nice little nonprofit gig for the perpetrators. According to their 2022 annual report, 38% of revenues goes to management overhead. That is $9 million.

Rick C
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 21, 2023 10:52 am

I have 40 acres covered in trees. I won’t cut them all down and burn them for a mere $2,000,000. Send me the money and I’ll send you a nicely printed and signed Carbon Off-Set Certificate.

Paul S
Reply to  Rick C
January 21, 2023 11:50 am

Does it also come with a secret decoder ring?

Reply to  Rick C
January 21, 2023 12:05 pm

Your competitor for this kind of service offering is of course Nature, who will come and burn all your trees down for free if you don’t actively manage the undergrowth and ground litter.

(Hhhmmm – maybe this is why governments everywhere don’t bother with forest management anymore. Cost savings to spend on exotic conference attendances for bureaucrats?)

Stephen Philbrick
Reply to  Rick C
January 21, 2023 6:41 pm

I have almost 2000 acres. I’ll promise not to cut them down for $1000 (No promises I won’t make this offer to 10,000 organizations)

John Hultquist
Reply to  Rick C
January 22, 2023 6:28 pm

Send money or the trees get it!

January 21, 2023 10:31 am

This is the comment I put on the Guardian about this issue:

Of course Carbon Offsets area scam. It’s a green initiative.
All green initiatives are celibate prostitution; selling virtue for real money.
Why be surprised when yet another one is exposed?
You’ll be telling us that the WWF has any say on who owns the pandas next.

Reply to  MCourtney
January 21, 2023 1:31 pm

Should have been “Of course Carbon Offsets are a scam”.
It was a quick comment and, at the Guardian, spelling errors are not unusual.

Steve Case
January 21, 2023 10:34 am

The climate crusade is funded by billions. That there are grifters out pry out some of that money for themselves shouldn’t come as any great revelation.

January 21, 2023 10:42 am

Carbon credits mean nothing. It’s a zero sum game manufactured by the same cabal that brought us AGW, Woke/ESG/CRT mentality and it’s all propped up by a complicit MSM controlled by that same cabal. The propaganda is so thick you can’t escape it.

January 21, 2023 10:59 am

Carbon trading schemes, and the business of climate, is completely dependent on virtual assets called carbon swaps. These assets do not exist and have no intrinsic value. Trillions of dollars are counted against these non-existent virtual assets.

They are the latest instrument of wall-street, not unlike schemes from the past such as CDOs which ruined countless lives in 2008 against sub-prime mortgages. It is creating an environment where trillions in virtual assets can simply disappear overnight, because no value actually exists.

All it would take is an influential scientist or politician to say “oops” on climate change, and trillions in value would simply vanish. In part, the business of climate is too big to fail, as so much of the market hinges on the perceived value of carbon markets.

The hole (bubble) is getting dug ever deeper, and as a consequence skeptical climate science poses a direct threat to trillions in virtual value. Not only are banks at risk, but countless ordinary citizens with pensions, public funds, and other financial instruments now caught up in the scheme.

Reply to  JCM
January 21, 2023 11:50 am

It is creating an environment where trillions in virtual assets can simply disappear overnight, because no value actually exists.“.

Nailed it. But here’s a challenge: Put that sentence in front of people and ask them what they think it is referring to, and see what answers you get. Carbon credits would of course be an answer. But also, maybe, crypto-currencies, wind-farms, COVID-19 vaccines, ESG investments. Some might even say fossil fuels. It would be an interesting test.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 21, 2023 10:29 pm

Just now Melbourne radio 3AW, the big one, was talking of the Otways region of S-W Victoria.
Comments like “It’s all tourism now.” “We are making much more money from tourism than we did from forestry and dairy farming.” “Dairy and forestry are mostly finished now, thankfully”.
Do these tourism advocates know where their fancy cheeses, their milk and cream, the timber buildings that are their shops and homes come from? Does anyone ponder what the nation would be like if production of dairy and forestry ceased everywhere? Why tourism is mostly a means to dissipate assets, while returning only intangibles like the memory of a view?
Goodness, this once fine country is getting screwed loopy. And people do not even know how bad it has become. Geoff S

January 21, 2023 11:19 am

Another redistributive changes scheme forcing progressive prices under a pretense of shared responsibility.

January 21, 2023 11:39 am

The scammers have gotten scammed.
For some reason I am unable to muster much outrage.

Peta of Newark
January 21, 2023 11:48 am

Call me a silly old fuddy duddy but, I rather expected to see some Real Trees in their refutation video. (Was there any, did I miss them?)

Their ‘protest of innocence’ just just a bit too slick and too strong

January 21, 2023 12:20 pm

Money for nothing- quite literally.

At the end of BBC programmes they now display a little logo with text – “a Carbon neutral production….”

“”It is of the upmost importance to us that environmental sustainability is embedded in the way our programmes are made and that production processes support our ambitions to be a net zero broadcaster.””

Last edited 5 days ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
January 21, 2023 10:55 pm

Reading between the lines, if their ambition is to be ‘net zero’, then they aren’t.

January 21, 2023 12:49 pm

The Guardian comes up with real reporting instead of made-up climate change tales. Whodda thought ?

January 21, 2023 12:50 pm

Centuries from now, they’ll look down on this carbon credit scammery the same way we look down on on the church selling indulgences.

Dodgy Geezer
January 21, 2023 1:05 pm

Either way around, these ‘credits’ are worthless.. …

January 21, 2023 1:12 pm

False premises, Green credits, and virtual virtue.

John V. Wright
January 21, 2023 1:12 pm

Quite frankly – who gives a toss?

Michael S. Kelly
January 21, 2023 2:02 pm

some of them have…told their consumers they can fly, buy new clothes or eat certain foods without making the climate crisis worse.”

Well, you can’t accuse those people of false advertising.

January 21, 2023 4:08 pm

Well, this comes to mind right away:

January 21, 2023 4:09 pm

PT Barnum would be leading the pack with these CO2 indulgences if he were still around.

al gore money.jpg
January 22, 2023 5:16 am

REDD+ is a global land grab and swindle. Displacing indigenous owners by payments to compliant governments. As the trees grow, credits are claimed. When the trees are logged the credits are not reclaimed.

January 22, 2023 5:24 am

The Clinton foundation played a big role in promoting REDD+. What could possibly go wrong?

January 22, 2023 5:42 am

I have a tree in the backyard. Shouldn’t everyone on earth be paying me for the global warming I am preventing?

Even if I only collect 1 cent from everyone, $80 million is still more than I’m earning from COVID “working” from home.

1 cent is pretty cheap for the CO2 the tree saves. With any luck I can sell the CO2 the tree saved to the same suckers all over again next year.

January 22, 2023 11:16 am

Does anyone know of Gore is part of this? He was part of the Chicago Climate Exchange where he made large amounts of money.

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