Researchers say trees set aside as part of cap-and-trade system are releasing carbon as they burn in fires that are more destructive than regulators had anticipated.
Researchers say some of the biggest damage to forest credits are in Oregon. In 2020, the 204,469-acre Lionshead Fire heavily damaged a carbon capture forestry project there, resulting in potential loss of more than one million credits, according to researchers at CarbonPlan, a nonprofit focused on the scientific integrity of climate projects.
Last summer also in Oregon, the 413,717-acre Bootleg Fire damaged another carbon project, potentially wiping out another one million credits there, CarbonPlan researchers estimate. Under California’s rules, developers of the carbon projects have 23 months to provide verified estimates of credit losses.
During 2021, CarbonPlan scientists calculate that about 158,000 acres of forests enrolled in California’s offsets program were burned.
Some carbon credit programs pay to not cut down trees that, in many cases, no one had any intention of cutting anyway. Not only big industries purchase “carbon offsets”, but Youtube travel vloggers who travel one quarter of a million air miles per year ill virtuously signal they bought carbon offsets (which may have just been vaporized). This is a known problem with carbon offset programs.