CARBON SCAM: Noel Kempff Climate Action Project and the Push for Sub-National Forest Offsets

New Greenpeace report underscores need for non-offset funding to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD)

Media release - October 15, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Greenpeace launched a new report today that shines a light on the dangerous environmental and financial risks associated with sub-national REDD offset projects. The report, “Carbon Scam: Noel Kempff Climate Action Project and the Push for Sub-national Forest Offsets,” (1) examines the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project (NKCAP) in Bolivia, which is sponsored by American Electric Power, BP and PacifiCorp. The report finds that the project did not deliver promised emissions reductions and failed to address fundamental shortcomings. The report concludes that REDD offsets are too unreliable to be included in cap and trade systems.

For example, over the last decade of the project (1997-2009), the estimated emissions reductions of NKCAP plummeted by more than 90 percent, from about 55 million to 5.8 million metric tons of CO2.  In addition, project sponsors did not produce tangible evidence that avoided deforestation did not move to other regions or countries, a phenomenon called leakage.

"This report should end speculation that sub-national carbon offset projects can be used to reliably cut carbon emissions," said Greenpeace senior campaigner Rolf Skar. "The fundamental uncertainties at the core of sub-national REDD offsets are not ones that can be resolved with technical tinkering and quick fixes. They require a leap of faith. We simply shouldn't gamble with our climate."

If low-quality REDD offsets like those from NKCAP are included in a government cap and trade scheme, climate pollution could actually increase.  At the same time, sub-national REDD offsets traded on a large scale could undermine the integrity of carbon markets, acting as "sub-prime" carbon credits creating financial implications. It is estimated carbon markets could be worth trillions of dollars in coming years.

"While polluters are looking for the cheapest way to get out of cleaning up their act, they are setting up a lose-lose-lose for forests, our climate and financial markets" said Skar.

Legislation pending in Congress allows for 2 billion tons of offsets, including sub-national REDD offsets. This staggering amount of offsets prompted Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), a staunch coal industry supporter, to say, "That means an electric utility burning coal will not have to reduce the emissions at the plant site. It can just keep burning coal." (2)

Greenpeace believes REDD should be financed through a large, predictable supply of revenues from pollution permits.  Unhampered by carbon markets and the need to "credit" emissions reductions, funds could be used more efficiently and broadly to end deforestation worldwide, avoiding the dangers of forest offsets. (3)

VVPR info: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace USA Press Officer, 510-501-1779 (cell); Rolf Skar, Greenpeace USA Forest Campaigner, 415-533-2888 (cell);

Notes: (1) The full report can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/carbon-scam (2) http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9016458 (3) The Greenpeace Forest for Climate proposal can be downloaded at: http://www.greenpeace.org/forests Photos of NKCAP are available at: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/20091013carbon_scam