The rise and rise of Climate Care

Drawing: the Indian treadle pump backed by Climate Care

Climate Care, the leading UK carbon offset company, has had an eventful few weeks. A few days after receiving an unexpected visit from climate activists who presented management with a basket of red herrings, the company put out a press release claiming that it would offset 1% of the UK's total carbon emissions next year. In sixty projects around the third world, Climate Care claims that it will reduce emissions in 2008 by 6m tonnes, or ten times as much as it has done this year. It is claiming spectacular growth rates. Continuous critical attention from newspapers and sceptical greens does not appear to have dented Climate Care's prospects one iota.

The core problems with offsetting are two-fold:

  • guaranteeing additionality (ensuring that the investments in carbon reduction wouldn't have happened anyway)
  • verifying the reductions.

Climate Care fails on both of these two important issues. Though Climate Care is getting increasingly tetchy with its critics, the blunt truth is that the company simply doesn't deliver genuine and quantifiable cuts in emissions. Increasingly, it works as an international development agency rather than as a business balancing one person's emissions with a reduction in another's. Climate Care may do a lot of good around the world, but it doesn't cut carbon dioxide emissions in a reliable or auditable way.

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