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Understanding
co-benefits and co-costs

The monetary purchase price of carbon credits is rising rapidly and so is the brand reputation cost of choosing credits from inappropriate carbon offset projects.

Despite the best endeavours of governments and voluntary international offset standards (e.g., Verra, Gold Standard) and their independent audit systems, the age-old principle of caveat emptor still applies.

Increasing scrutiny by researchers, journalists and eNGOs are challenging the legitimacy of some carbon offset projects and the purchase of associated carbon credits by major corporate brands. For example:

A major bank received adverse publicity with the purchase of voluntary carbon credits from a factory based in India.

Global software company purchases soil carbon credits was subject to a critical review by a group of soil carbon experts.

Global entertainment business purchases offsets from a Cambodian hydro-electric scheme

that has unintentionally led to illegal logging of the water catchment.

Australia think tank challenged the validity of Australian Government ACCUs based on avoided deforestation.

As scientific and social knowledge evolves, legal and legitimate carbon offsets can easily become invalid or no longer aligned with an organisation’s brand strategy.

Organisations will need to periodically review and revalue its carbon offset portfolio and determine whether some carbon credits are still an asset or a contingent liability.

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