Close popup
Close popup
Market insight

A roundup of 5 responses to The Guardian’s analysis on rainforest offsets

February 1, 2023

Carbon markets and offsets have made headlines over the last few weeks. We have seen many responses to The Guardian’s article claiming 90% of rainforest carbon offsets certified by Verra are worthless. The report spurred important conversations across the industry and highlighted the need to take action and accountability to ensure carbon markets support high-integrity offsets, resulting in this open letter signed by key stakeholders this week.   

We’ve compiled a roundup of top themes and responses so you can stay up to date on the discussion —

Top themes that have emerged: 

  • Offsetting needs to be a complementary action taken alongside ambitious decarbonization of an organization's value chain
  • Both the supply and demand of carbon markets need increased transparency, integrity and quality  
  • No solution to the climate crisis has proven to be perfect, but urgent action is required  

Reactions from different publications, organizations and developers - against and in support of - The Guardian article: 

World Economic Forum: “5 reasons why forest carbon credits are an important part of climate action”  

“No one is claiming forest carbon credits are perfect. In fact, most working in this field will be the first to highlight areas for improvement – and welcome increased scrutiny to identify where the system is being gamed.”

Co-Authors: Jennifer Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Nature Conservancy | Giulia Carbone, Director of the NCS Alliance, World Business Council for Sustainable Development | Jack Hurd, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Alliance, World Economic Forum | Mark Moroge, Vice President, Natural Climate Solutions at Environmental Defense Fund | Carlos Nobre, Senior Researcher, University of São Paulo’s Institute for Advanced Studies | Todd Stevens, Executive Director, Business Planning & Markets, Wildlife Conservation Society | Emily Nyrop, Vice President, Climate Change at Conservation International

World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent not-for-profit foundation that engages in political, business and cultural affairs in the global public interest. Co-authors representing various NGOs published this article in support of forest carbon credits as a critical tool to fight against climate change.

Environmental Defense Fund: “Don’t miss the forest for the trees

“While navigating the marketplace can be complex, there’s no need to miss the forest for the trees: help finance flow to conserve these critical forests and to the people who steward them by purchasing high-quality tropical forest carbon credits.”

Co-Authors: Mark Moroge, Vice President, Natural Climate Solutions and Breanna Lujan, Senior Manager, Natural Climate Solutions 

Environmental Defence Fund’s EDF+Business partners with companies to create a more sustainable world by leveraging market-based solutions. Leaders from the Natural Climate Solutions team published this response underscoring forest carbon credits as one method to stop and reverse tropical deforestation by 2030.

Forbes: “The carbon credit market confuses the corporate world

“This damning report signals the corporate world to re-evaluate what kind of carbon credits it purchases to reach net-zero goals.”

Author: Ken Silverstein, Senior Contributor

Ken Silverstein evaluates The Guardian report, decrease in demand for forest carbon credits and the role of both voluntary and sovereign REDD+ markets. 

The Guardian: “New carbon offset standards ‘should bring greater scrutiny’

“We are working intensively to set a definitive global threshold standard for high-integrity carbon credits, based on solid science and clear, measurable, verifiable data that will respond to market concerns and give buyers confidence that they are funding projects that make a genuine, positive impact.” - Annette Nazareth, chair of the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) and former Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Author: Fiona Harvey, Environment editor  

Fiona Harvey, Environment editor of The Guardian, spoke with industry leaders after the Guardian’s investigation. The article explores the role of voluntary carbon markets and standards that will ensure high-integrity offsets. 

Everland: “The science behind The Guardian piece is fatally flawed

“The methodological weaknesses, significant uncertainties, lack of peer-reviewed science for one critical reference, and misrepresentation of another fundamentally undercut the validity of the conclusions drawn by the Guardian authors.”

Co-Authors: Joshua Tosteson, MSc., President and Maren Pauly, PhD., Director – Evaluation & Research

Everland represents a portfolio of REDD+ projects and is a marketing partner of the project developer Wildlife Works. Everland President and Director of Evaluation & Research released this response featuring 5 criticisms of The Guardian’s analysis.   

Addressing climate change - both its causes and impacts - is a complex undertaking and requires systematic change alongside immediate action. Scrutinizing the voluntary carbon markets is necessary to promote integrity and enhance transparency. There is a range of voices - NGOs, governments, the media, data providers, researchers - who are contributing to the public discourse around carbon markets and offsets. Each perspective is valuable in how we define a path forward.

Missed the Sylvera response to The Guardian? Read it here.

Get up to speed with "Unlocking Carbon"
Subscribe to our newsletter to get fresh insights and news on all things carbon markets.
Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get up to speed with "Unlocking Carbon"

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest carbon insights.

Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
About the author
Senior Marketing Manager

Emma Beecher is the Senior Marketing Manager at Sylvera. She graduated from Bowdoin College with a BA in history and psychology. Emma has spent her career seeking new challenges and pursuing different passions, from time on Wall Street to the outdoor industry to climate work. At Sylvera, she is focused on educating buyers on the nuances of carbon markets and offsets. Based in Jackson, Wyoming, you can find Emma exploring the mountains by foot, bike, or skis with her dog Maisie.