As of last year, more than a third of the world’s largest publicly traded companies had set targets to reach net zero carbon emissions, up from a fifth in December 2020. But a dirty little secret lies behind most net zero commitments: Companies are buying carbon offsets to meet their goals — paying for absolution just like pre-Reformation Catholics buying Indulgences to offset their sins. Under the law, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has the power to hold companies liable for marketing that harms consumers’ health or wealth by misleading them into buying a product or service based on a false or deceptive claim. The FTC just closed public comment on how to amend its classic Green Guides in light of new market realities.
My expectations are never disappointed when I read the news each day and find out that the solutions to the problems created by our modern technology are to be found in more technology. We do not need to restructure our society, reduce our consumption, moderate our desires or change our habits. Technology will solve our problems without us having to make any substantial change in our way of life. The breathless coverage of a university-based startup company that will draw carbon dioxide out of the ocean—thereby making room for more carbon dioxide from the air to be absorbed—may convince you that we can all sit back and let our tech overlords solve climate change.
On April 6, the Biden administration proposed changes to Title IX regulations concerning trans youth participating in sports. The regulation change would prohibit any schools or universities that receive public funding from passing “blanket bans” — bans that prohibit all trans youth from participating in any sport at all — but would make it acceptable for schools to ban transgender students from sporting activities on a sport-by-sport basis. While Democrats are touting this as a win for transgender rights, this is simply another example of the so-called “progressive” party proposing moves to make themselves seem trans-positive, while taking no meaningful action to protect trans children.
Yet another report has cast doubt on the accuracy and reliability of the carbon credits companies and individuals purchase to offset their climate-polluting emissions. The first-of-its-kind peer-reviewed study, published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change Tuesday, looked at almost 300 projects that made up 11 percent of the carbon credits on offer to date. It found that methods for calculating the carbon credits were often in conflict with scientific best-practices, which increased the risk of “significant over-estimation” of the amount of carbon a project might keep from the atmosphere. The report comes around two months after a major investigation found that 94 percent of the forest offset credits verified by top carbon credit certifier Verra did not truly offset any emissions.
We know that the window is quickly closing for us to slash emissions and avoid climate change’s worst effects. So it’s easy to get excited about direct air capture: technology designed to suck carbon dioxide straight from the atmosphere. But oil and gas companies have vested interests in DAC. As a kind of carbon capture and sequestration technology, DAC projects will receive hefty federal tax credits. Now, DAC boosters are drumming up hype that masks real problems — notably, that direct air capture is a scam that won’t help solve the climate crisis. With time running out on climate change, we can’t waste resources on this dangerous and speculative technology. Here are five reasons why.
Disinformation campaigns will certainly continue in 2023, confusing and convincing ever more people that fake news is true. Still, I’m encouraged by growing interest in “pre-bunking” — inoculating people against disinformation by familiarizing them with common disinformation tropes and techniques ahead of time. This is familiar territory for DeSmog — we have unpacked and decoded fossil fuel greenwashing and climate denier messaging for more than a decade — but now that social media has turbocharged the circulation of conspiracy theories and white grievance, it’s vital to get out ahead of these messages. Researchers have been studying the effectiveness of pre-bunking for some years, and now the idea seems to be going mainstream; NPR, the Associated Press, and NBC News have all run stories about pre-bunking in recent months.
In his speech at COP26 on November 2, British prime minister Boris Johnson announced that more than 100 countries had joined the Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which seeks to halt and reverse the alarming levels of global deforestation by 2030. The declaration also emphasizes the need for countries to facilitate sustainable trade and development policies, promote food security through sustainable agriculture, and “accelerate the transition to [a green] economy.” To that end, more than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, backed by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Russia, and the United States.
In a statement released today, 257 organisations, networks and movements and 78 individuals from 61 countries say no to “nature-based solutions”. The statement warns that “nature-based dispossessions” and harmful practices such as monoculture tree plantations and industrial agriculture lurk behind the “nature-based solutions” marketing front that the UK government, the world’s biggest corporate polluters and the conservation industry are peddling at the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. “The climate damage caused when corporations keep releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere cannot be offset through planting trees, protecting forests, restoring soils or tweaking industrial farming practices”, says Focus on the Global South.
The COP 26 United Nations climate meeting is underway in Glasgow Scotland. Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent "Code Red" report that proves urgent action is critical, the world is looking at the corporate-dominated COP 26 to do what is necessary. Clearing the FOG speaks with Anne Petermann, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project, who says COP 26 is focused on 'false solutions' promoted by large corporations to protect their profits instead of the planet. Petermann describes a new publication, "Hoodwinked in the Hothouse," that explains what these false solutions are and what is necessary, the real solutions. She also discusses what people can do to save the planet.
Let us be frank. As communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and fossil fuel extraction, our situation is dire. While we experience unparalleled disaster in the form of floods, fires, droughts, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Peoples and state-sanctioned violence against Indigenous and Black communities, the crisis at the so-called border, and other results of climate chaos, we know U.S. elected leadership is in the position to redirect course on behalf of Mother Earth and future generations. The truth is, Congress promised our communities they would work to solve the climate crisis and environmental justice once we elected them into office, but instead, we see them fighting to fund fossil fuels and false promises masquerading as climate solutions to the tune of billions of dollars.