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Effectiveness of Forest-Based Carbon Offsets Questioned

trees.jpgforest-based carbon offsets may not be as effective as some think, Fox News reports.

Trees grow slowly and “the small print on tree-planting offsets typically indicate a 40-year maturity,” said Adam Stein, co-founder of TerraPass, a San Francisco-based offset company.

Stein says forests carry inherent risks because when trees die, they release the carbon they’ve absorbed during their lifetimes. TerraPass doesn’t offer any forestry options for its customers.

However companies, such as Carbonfund.org, that sell reforestation offsets have no doubt about their effectiveness. The organization sets deadlines for its reforestation projects. For example, the amount of CO2 sequestered by the Nicaragua project is measured only for the first 40 years.

In other offset related news, new U.N. data shows that the issued supply of Kyoto Protocol carbon offsets has grown by a fifth in the past three months, reported Reuters.

For the quarter ended December, Certified Emissions Reduction credits grew by 45.7 million, up 29 percent from 35.5 million issued in the third quarter of 2008.

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2 thoughts on “Effectiveness of Forest-Based Carbon Offsets Questioned

  1. The Fox News piece is based on a 2007 essay and not representative of current thinking on reforestation by scientists, experts and certification bodies.

    An article by Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute for example, notes,

    “Deforestation is no longer just a matter of local flooding, but also rising seas worldwide and the many other effects of climate change. Nature has just raised the ante on protecting forests.”

    Reforestation also helps buy critical time in the fight on global warming while market transformation occurs to more widespread use of clean, renewable energy.

  2. this article is rightfully concerned about project that apply forward crediting to forest projects. There is of course a permanance risk assigned to any forest. However, all credible ghg programs do not issue forward credits for forests, but only issue credits on the verified amount of CO2 actually sequestered in a forest over a past period. Two examples are the CDM and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS)

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