- Well over a third of carbon credits purchased by businesses and other organizations to offset their own greenhouse gas emissions are over five years old, according to analysis carried out by Japanese newspaper Nikkei – raising questions about the efficacy and veracity of carbon markets.
- Of purchased carbon credits included in the analysis, 38% — supposedly equivalent to 73 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — are more than five years old; while a little over 4% are at least 10 years old.
- Just 37% of purchased carbon credits were three years old or less.
Why it matters:
Technologies and models for the measurement and verification of carbon offsetting have undergone significant development in recent years, raising hopes that efficient and trustworthy carbon credits markets can be established.
However, thousands of credits generated under older, arguably less-rigorous schemes remain ‘in circulation.’ Not only is the positive environmental impact of many of these credits questionable — due to the problem of additionality — but trading them could have a bearish effect on carbon prices, hobbling the nascent market. One study estimates that as much as 700 million carbon equivalent tons’ worth of “old” credits — up to eight times the current demand — with “little to no additionality” could flood the market and be purchased, with negligible climate impact.
Agriculture produces just 1% of carbon credits, data suggests – read more here
At COP26 last November, countries agreed to a 2013 cut-off date for the validity of certain credits generated under criteria set by the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, in order to remove thousands of potentially problematic assets from the market.