2009 archive
UN Climate Conference closes without adopting 'Copenhagen accord'
Copenhagen: A disaster for the world's poorest
Danish PM tries to derail UN climate talks; Friends of the Earth suspended from the conference
Friends of the Earth suspended from UN climate talks
The angry mermaid winner is...
Africa moves to stop rich country power grab and protect kyoto targets
Statement on police tactics in Copenhagen
Five thousand people Flood Copenhagen for Climate Justice
Climate Capsule: People from around the world demand climate justice now
Public vote closes on Sunday for angry mermaid award
Obama to Receive Prize Based on Promise He Has Failed to Keep
Europe must commit to at least 40% reductions by 2020 without offsetting
Leaked Copenhagen accord text profoundly unjust
40% domestic emissions cuts in europe by 2020: feasible and affordable
Two million want climate justice in copenhagen
We can feed the planet and save the world
Rich countries scheme to ditch Kyoto targets
Friends of Earth International calls on President Obama to earn his Nobel
Angry Mermaid award to expose business lobby undermining climate action
First International Climate Justice Tribunal Started
climate talks regress
Rich Countries Try to Dodge Climate Obligations
Halt to Palm Oil Investments Welcomed
'Sustainable Palm Oil' advert false, says watchdog
Environmentalists Welcome World Bank President's Halt to Palm Oil Investments
Shell violates OECD Guidelines in the Philippines
Speechless novel Launched
European Union urged to reconsider its role in Central America
climate crisis: Politicians must find just solutions
Carbon Offsetting Exposed as Con
public warned over 'Green Soy' scam
new research reveals that shell is the world’s most carbon intensive oil company
a welcome shift in united nations views on food sovereignty
ShellGuilty Campaign Launched
photo competition winners announced
World Forests Rapidly Disappearing
Negative impacts of monoculture tree plantations on women
‘biodiversity photo competition starts today
Friends of the Earth International Calls for an End to the Violence in Gaza
You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2009 / Carbon Offsetting Exposed as Con

Carbon Offsetting Exposed as Con

BONN (GERMANY) / LONDON (UK), June 2, 2009 – The push by industrialised countries to offset their carbon emissions is undermining the fight against climate change, warned Friends of the Earth International at the start of key UN climate talks taking place in Bonn June 1-12.

A new report released today exposes carbon offsetting as ineffective and damaging, and as a con which is failing to reduce, and in some cases is even increasing, carbon emissions.

Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia said:

“It is disgraceful that despite the urgency we are facing to tackle climate change, rich industrialised countries are trying to buy their way out of emission reductions through perilous offset schemes. Instead of cheating and continually failing to address climate change, they should live up their historical responsibilities and repay their climate debt.”

Carbon offsetting further increases the 'climate debt' that industrialised nations owe to developing countries, which have emitted just a fraction of the carbon emissions responsible for global warming.

Rich, industrialised countries with around twenty percent of the world’s population are responsible for around three quarters of historical greenhouse gas emissions.

European and US administrations are actively promoting the increased use of offsetting at the UN climate talks, including proposing a plan to carbon offset by buying up forests – which will cause significant social harm to the people that rely on forests and which is an ineffective tool to stop deforestation. [3]

Friends of the Earth International is urging people to call for an end to the carbon offsetting con and put pressure on world leaders for real action. Individuals can sign up to a climate justice petition at www.demandclimatejustice.org


The green campaign group wants a commitment from rich countries to cut their carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020 – through real change at home, not by buying offsets from abroad – and earmark new money for developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change and grow their economies using clean technology.

Tom Picken of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said:
“Western governments are cheating us all by plotting to expand carbon offsetting at the UN climate talks – which means avoiding real action through dodgy accounting instead of taking bold action to tackle the climate crisis.

Carbon offsetting is simply delaying vital infrastructure change that is needed, putting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people at risk and is worsening inequality between rich and developing countries’ levels of emissions. “



Meena Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia:
+ 60 12 43 00 042 (Malaysian mobile number)

Tom Picken, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: +44 7810 55 82 47 (UK mobile number)

Joseph Zacune, Friends of the Earth International Climate Coordinator,
Tel: +44 79 67 87 75 93 (UK mobile number)

Antje von Broock, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Germany/BUND,
Tel. +49 173 6071601


Henry Rummins, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland press office  +44 20 7566 1649 or +44- 7761 601 666

Notes to Editors:

1. The report was produced by Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  A full copy, as well as a summary of key facts from the report, is available at


2. ‘A Dangerous Distraction’ shows that offsetting is profoundly unjust, fundamentally flawed, and cannot successfully be reformed because:

a. It pays for projects intended to reduce emissions in developing countries while rich countries continue pumping out climate-changing gases with impunity – when the science demands that carbon reductions are made in both developed and developing countries;

b. Often the projects funded would have taken place anyway, so no additional carbon is saved;

c. Many of the projects are fossil-fuel based projects which increase emissions rather than reduce them;

d. Offsetting reduces pressure on rich countries to develop sustainable technologies and provides an excuse for politicians to give the go-ahead to carbon intensive projects such as airport runways and coal-fired power stations;

e. Offsetting increases inequality in carbon consumption between rich and poor countries.

3. Plans to reduce emissions from deforestation through proposals that allow rich countries to buy chunks of forest whilst continuing to pump out emissions, is simply an extension of carbon offsetting. 1.6 billion people rely on forests, including 60 million indigenous people who are entirely dependent upon forests for their livelihoods, food, medicines and building materials.

Including forests in carbon markets is likely to trigger a land grab - leaving these communities struggling to survive.
Furthermore, as the proposal defines plantations as forests, funding under a UN scheme known as REDD could be used to replace forests with large monoculture plantations. Plantations only store 20 per cent of the carbon of intact forests, so this would reduce REDD’s impact on cutting carbon emissions.

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