In response to the statement made by Greenpeace's Executive Director Jennifer Morgan at the Reuters Impact conference, and published by Reuters on 6 October.
ICROA would like to express its respect and support for the work of Greenpeace and echo the concerns of many climate activists around the world in demanding more action and raising concerns about the pace of emissions reductions by companies and governments. For many years, ICROA and its members have raised awareness about the urgency of the climate emergency and that both governments and businesses must do their utmost to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Calling on companies, including the energy sector giants in particular, to accelerate their carbon reduction efforts is not in question. We welcome the actions taken by thousands of companies who have publicly committed to reducing their carbon footprint by setting ambitious science-based targets and successfully pursuing their net-zero decarbonisation strategy.
However, we strongly disagree with Greenpeace about the statements criticising the role that carbon credits play in catalysing climate action and believe that Greenpeace misunderstands the role of external Emission Reductions (offsetting alongside and over and above deep internal reductions), in helping the world reach its climate goals. The statement made by Greenpeace's Executive Director Jennifer Morgan provides, we believe, misleading information about the role of carbon credits in climate action.
The key criteria for any carbon market to work properly – whether it is a voluntary or compliance programme - is that it does two things – 1) it puts a price on emitting carbon that motivates the emitter to reduce or stop the underlying emitting activity, and 2) it finances an equivalent reduction elsewhere that would not otherwise have happened. Indeed, the Voluntary Carbon Market, alongside the expansion of renewable energy, is one of the few areas of climate action that have funded and delivered real Emission Reductions over the last decade. It is a vital tool in the climate change ‘toolbox’.
Several independent initiatives help corporates set science-based climate targets in a transparent, rigorous, and accountable way. None of them specifies using carbon credits as the only tool to meet those targets or indeed using offsets to achieve science-based interim targets. In fact, companies are urged to use carbon credits – over and above a Paris-aligned decarbonisation pathway – to tackle unavoidable emissions. Apart from delivering externally verified Emission Reductions, carbon offset projects drive capital and low-carbon technology to local economies, and also create jobs, provide education, and support indigenous communities. This flow of finance is urgently needed and should be both recognised and encouraged.
We completely agree with Greenpeace that we need to hold companies accountable for their impact on climate by demanding transparent and credible action from them, but it is equally important that they take full responsibility for the residual emissions by channelling vital finance to impactful projects beyond their value chain to achieve further ambition.
We support offsetting unavoidable residual emissions with high-quality carbon credits and in strict adherence to the mitigation hierarchy by ensuring best practices through the ICROA Accreditation Scheme. The members of ICROA adhere to a strict code of practice and are audited annually against this Code.
Communications Director, ICROA.