The climate crisis can’t be solved by carbon accounting tricks | Simon Lewis
Disaster looms if big finance is allowed to game the carbon offsetting markets to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions
An astonishing global shift is under way: 127 countries have now stated that by mid-century their overall emissions of carbon dioxide will be zero. That includes the EU, US, and UK by 2050 – and China by 2060. Companies are enthusiastically signing up to similar “net zero” goals. Finally the international community seems to have accepted the scientific fact that we need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to stabilise our climate. Dare we hope that the climate crisis can be brought under control?
Perhaps, but big problems remain. Long-term commitments have not resulted in sufficient near-term actions. The world is on track for emissions to be just 0.5% below 2010 levels by 2030, compared with the 45% needed on the road to net zero by 2050. The pivotal Glasgow Cop26 climate talks in November will need to tackle this. But a more insidious problem is emerging. Net zero increasingly involves highly questionable carbon accounting. As a result, the new politics swirling around net zero targets is rapidly becoming a confusing and dangerous mix of pragmatism, self-delusion and weapons-grade greenwash.