Glasgow, Scotland, 3 November 2021 – An event to promote carbon offsetting at COP26 was today hit by multiple protests. The Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, backed by fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP, held a promotional event in the conference centre in Glasgow, attended by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney. The taskforce is seeking to radically expand carbon offsetting.
About 20 Indigenous Peoples from the Indigenous Environmental Network stood outside the event at the COP26 conference centre in Glasgow, holding copies of a full page advert they placed in the FT and Times newspapers this morning that reads: CARBON OFFSETTING IS TEARING US APART.
Meanwhile Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan stood as Carney started speaking and – with Teresa Anderson, Climate Policy Coordinator at ActionAid International – held aloft placards that together read: YOUR TASKFORCE IS A SCAM.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg – who also attended the event – tweeted a searing thread that attacked offsetting and said: “This Taskforce, and other schemes like it, are scams that could trash the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.” As she walked out the event she said: “No more greenwashing.”
Protesting inside the conference centre is banned by the UN and comes with potentially serious sanctions. Jennifer Morgan said after the protest:
“I’ve been to every single COP going back a quarter of a century and I’ve never done anything like this inside a conference centre, but offsetting scams like this Taskforce are such a potent threat to the climate that I felt I had no choice. It’s touch and go whether we can keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C, but one way to guarantee defeat is to radically scale up the offsets market. Offsetting smothers ambition and gives polluters a way to avoid making genuine, substantive, timely emissions cuts. It’s like saying you’re going on a diet but you keep eating cake while paying someone else to eat lettuce.”
Until today the environmental group WWF was on the ‘member consultation group’ of the Taskforce , but this morning WWF clarified that they are not part of the Taskforce and pulled its logo from the Taskforce website. The Taskforce is still backed by hundreds of companies including Unilever, Standard Chartered, Nestle, Netflix and Salesforce that say they are not interested in offsets but are not yet stepping away.
“The people backing this body need to put daylight between themselves and the Taskforce,” said Jennifer Morgan. “What are these companies and institutions doing, standing with Shell, BP and Total at a climate conference?”
Mark Carney launched the Taskforce last year. It is said it wants to rebrand itself as the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets.
Thomas Joseph of the Indigenous Environmental Network said:
“The False Solutions being presented at COP26 is a threat to Indigenous lands and all
living things. Indigenous Peoples of the globe are already experiencing the effects of climate change, from melting glaciers and rising seas to raging wildfires. Our traditional foods are vanishing and our very ways of being are under threat. There is no time to be wasted and yet COP26 is discussing how we can continue business as usual and create false solutions based on market systems and further their access to Indigenous Lands.”
Earlier today Greta Thunberg tweeted:
“The fossil fuel industry & banks are among the biggest climate villains. Now @Shell @BP & @StanChart are here in Glasgow trying to scale up offsetting & give polluters a free pass to keep polluting. Their plan could trash the 1,5°C goal… This Taskforce, and other schemes like it, are scams that could trash the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.”
Commenting on the taskforce, Simon Lewis, Professor of Global Change Science at University College London, said:
“Mark Carney’s offsets Taskforce is dangerous. It would allow the world’s most polluting companies a lifeline to avoid cutting their emissions, by allowing them to claim they’re offsetting those emissions. Offsets give the illusion that we’re tackling the climate emergency, when we’re not actually reducing emissions. Carney’s taskforce risks creating a subprime mortgage crisis for carbon. If dodgy carbon offsets boom, and are bundled into securities that nobody knows the true value of, a subprime style market crash looms. The world needs action to reduce emissions, not increase offsets.”
Teresa Anderson from ActionAid took the microphone at one point to denounce the offsets taskforce. She told the event:
“Carbon offsets mean climate sabotage. They aren’t just a tool to greenwash climate inaction and delay the transformation we need, they’re also going to drive devastating land grabs in the Global South. There simply isn’t enough land on the planet to make way for the vast new forests and bioenergy crops that all these offsets project plans rely on. This initiative is going to cause direct harm to smallholder farmers, women and indigenous communities. Those that have done the least to cause the climate problem, yet are experiencing its worst impacts, are going to be sacrificed yet again.
“For COP26 to be a success, we need an initiative to scale down carbon markets, instead of scaling them up.”