U.S. Carbon Offset Proposal Fails to Meet the Urgency of the Climate Crisis

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Nov 9, 2022

Sharm El-Sheikh (November 9, 2022)—At this year’s COP27 climate conference, U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry, along with foundation partners, announced a new voluntary carbon-market offset initiative intended to fund renewable energy projects, and the transition away from coal, in low- and middle-income countries. This proposal raises significant concerns and is no substitute for the real public finance that these countries need, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Carbon offsets are not an answer in a world already on fire, under water and facing mounting climate losses and damage. While the exact details are still unclear, the outlines of the US proposal are out of step with the science, which calls for steep, absolute emission reductions as soon as possible if we are to have any chance of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The private sector can and must play an important role in tackling the climate crisis. However, a voluntary carbon credit program won’t guarantee deep, real cuts in emissions—it’s tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs as the climate ship is going down.

“Low- and middle-income countries need grants-based public finance from richer countries to help them quickly transition away from fossil fuels, alongside the rest of the world. That’s what the U.S. must deliver, rather than questionable carbon offset schemes that risk allowing companies to pollute at the expense of the planet.”