The Amazon rainforest needs real protection from the enormous threats it faces. The standing forest, Indigenous Peoples, and traditional communities in the region are beset by challenges such as the advancement of agribusiness, mining, and oil exploration. False solutions like carbon offsets and carbon markets masquerade as beneficial to the Amazon and forest defenders but they are just greenwashing tools that ultimately enable more destruction. 

Carbon markets are nothing but a bookkeeping trick intended to obscure climate wrecking-emissions. It’s tree planting window dressing aimed at distracting from ecosystem destruction. In a recent publication by the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media, scientist Joseph Romm is categorical: carbon markets threaten the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This is because such “credits” are not auditable, do not significantly reduce CO2 emissions or are simply unrealistic. Also, another research shows that over 90% of the credits sold by the largest carbon credit certifier, Verra, are “phantoms” and do not represent genuine reductions in carbon emissions.

People's March Amazon Summit in Belém, Brazil. © João Paulo Guimarães / Greenpeace
Civil Society March in Belém, Brazil, demanding the protection of the Amazon during during the Amazon Summit in August 2023.
© João Paulo Guimarães / Greenpeace

Carbon markets were a focus at the Amazon Summit in Belém, but the countries that make up the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) failed to agree on clear zero deforestation goals. Instead of falling into the carbon market farce, the ACTO nations should look to the non-market tools within the Paris Agreement that make it possible to exchange experiences, tools and technology, in addition to funding. Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement, which is already in operation, promotes interaction between governments to carry out mitigation and adaptation actions in an integrated, holistic and balanced way. 

If the ACTO countries — who came together after 14 years — are seriously concerned with the preservation of the Amazon region, then they must think of a joint and integrated plan, with clear goals to achieve zero deforestation, eliminate oil exploration and mining in the region, and turn away from greenwashing tools such as the carbon market. In addition, due consultation and participation of Indigenous Peoples is essential to guarantee and promote actions to preserve Indigenous cultures, Native nations and biodiversity.

Davi Martins is a Senior Campaign Strategist for Greenpeace International