More and more companies are using carbon credits as a means to offset the CO2 emissions resulting from their activities, justifying the emission of tons of carbon dioxide with a new forest. But can we really trust this practice or is it a mistake?
Born from the fusion of two English terms, green (ecological) and whitewash (to cover up, hide), greenwashing indicates the tendency of companies to proclaim themselves sustainable, sensitive to environmental issues and committed to eco-friendly practices, using green expedients that actually aim to divert attention from other practices, decidedly not very green. And it is precisely greenwashing, according to some surveys, that some companies are adopting to disguise their unsustainable activities and not risk losing their investors and customers.
What is hiding, therefore, behind the CO2 offsetting projects of multinationals?
Commit 200 million euros to CO2 offset projects, reducing deforestation, but at the same time invest several billions in oil and gas; create a forest of acacia trees for a total of 40 thousand hectares of land and 10 million tons of CO2 absorbed, but at the same time increase the production of fossil fuels. These are just some of the contradictions analysed, expedients that allow companies to be (apparently) sustainable, but which in reality unequivocally damage the environment, more than they protect it.
The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused by the extraction and combustion of oil, gas and coal which in nature are permanently stored underground and by the destruction of forests and other habitats, which causes the release of CO2 absorbed by vegetation. According to the survey carried out by Greenpeace, it is not enough to foresee investment in carbon credits; companies must start investing in renewable energy and consider that compensation projects threaten communities in the South of the World, since lands are administered according to the needs of multinationals, which rarely coincide with those of the communities that live there.
In Europe, the companies that pollute the most are subject to the controversial EU Emissions Trading System, which sets a maximum limit for CO2 emissions granted to companies, requiring the purchase of "rights to pollute" on a virtual market. As highlighted by the EU Court of Auditors, however, the functioning of the ETS is not optimal: for fear that companies relocate outside Europe, instead of paying for their emissions, the sectors responsible for most of the pollution are exempt from payment and receive the rights free of charge.
IGW, as an independent consultancy company, has long been engaged in projects within companies that, on the contrary, take the counting of emissions savings very seriously. For more information on our environmental consultancy activity please contact us.