Carbon consulting & Carbon offset enterprises

Well, I have been thinking for a while about this whole new market of carbon credits that came in the past decade or so. There are climate consulting companies that sell Fortune 500 carbon credits. What I understand is the tag of “net zero” comes when let’s say a company buys enough credits from a firm that specializes in offsetting practices that in turn partners with global enterprises that plant trees, that offset Co2 emissions.

It may be a gimmick since the company isn’t actually becoming sustainable, and is still emitting greenhouse gases, but it is paying $ to someone for the right to say their emissions carbon value matches to the offset’s carbon value. There was a controversy regarding this, where the world largest’s consultancy turned out to be selling bogus carbon credits, for projects that weren’t even there. So I am of the question is this whole thing a Ponzi scheme? If not, can India become the world’s provider of carbon credit? I would love to start a company in this space. This may sound a bit exploitive but think about it, we get paid, and do well for the immediate environment in India. Maybe that adds a small percent of value to global climate change problems, but it adds way more value to us.

Feel free to comment your opinions, if there’s a way we could start into this space I would love to explore potential entrepreneurship opportunities. If you feel this space is highly volatile, and a very short-term, high-risk opportunity, I would love to understand more about how we can fill gaps in this space and maybe offer something better.

As you mentioned yes, there are cases of bogus credits, it is similar to the legal system where loopholes can be found no matter what.
I would recommend working with an existing organization for just 6 months to understand the ground situation which is definitely volatile.

There definitely are a bunch of issues associated with carbon offsets. Example - Nature based projects may not provide long term benefits and climate change in itself might jeopardize its effectiveness. Hence ensuring that off set projects remain effective for a long term period is difficult. Permanence is a challenge. There are some efforts made in addressing this via buffer pool.

If the whole world needs to be reducing emissions right now, does it really make sense that some players in one part of the world are claiming the right to continue to emit by stopping emissions elsewhere? Ideally, both the ends of these transactions should be reducing emissions and storing carbon simultaneously. There has to be a reduction of 90% of emissions and then removing and storing some carbon permanently on top of that. (Reference)

Double counting is another challenge. For example if India sells offsets to Sri Lanka, it can’t count the same forest protection towards its own national GHG accounting. So offsets are only counted once.

But there are a bunch of options available for organizations that want to improve on their existing offsetting program. Starting by researching on offset providers by questioning and probing their practices - referring to best practices guide.

Carbon Direct has also designed this method for accounting short term durability in carbon offsets. It seems to be a rigorous accounting protocol based on the latest science.