A highlight from Do Carbon Offsets Actually Work? 'Planet Money' Takes A Look

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One fifth of the world's biggest companies have made some sort of pledged to go carbon neutral. Meaning they will pollute less or pay to offset their pollution. One popular type of offset involves saving trees but as julius simon reports for our planet money. Podcast some critics are finding the tree. Math doesn't add up. We so many companies now looking to buy offsets. There's a booming industry of startups looking to sell them including one called pajama which sells offsets from forests. So you know where. We are a marketplace like bnb connecting supply and demand. This is co-founder diego size. Gill traumas website. How many can go to a map and pick a forest to save in colombia peru. Or this map. Were zooming into in brazil. Oh there it goes using into brazil center brazil. Woo big big zoom ya and you can see the shape of a triangle that is the borders of the area that is being conserved otherwise it will be the forrester that otherwise it will be. The forested is key here. Because there's a theory behind offset save trees trees cannon credible. They store carbon second out of the air. Some trees get cut down every year for things like ranching or for lumber so the company pays to stop trees from getting cut down then in theory those payments prevent carbon emissions but house an offset buyer to know what would have happened to the trees without that payment. Maybe no loggers had plans to cut down that forest. Maybe the local government was already protecting it or maybe the ranchers went down the road and cut down a different forest. All these questions are the reason. Why david antonio only has a job. And the chief. Executive officer of vera vera certifies many of the offsets that size gill and other brokers sell nearly seventy percent of all offset soul to companies and part of various process involves answering those hypothetical questions. About what would have otherwise happened. You say there's so many hypotheticals. I don't think there are that many quite frankly. I mean we know how many trees are on the ground right. We know how many cut down. And i think you know. Absolutely companies can be comfortable and confident that they're reducing emissions but a study in last year's proceedings of the national academy of sciences suggests companies can't be so confident. It looked at forest projects in the brazilian amazon and the researchers concluded the projects were overestimating the deforestation that would have happened. Had they not been there by almost sixty times. I wrote these concerns to antonio only as vera issued the offsets ten out of twelve brazilian forestry projects that you gave your stamp of approval to didn't stop the deforestation. They claim. that's what that study found so for the corporations that have purchased offsets from these projects did they offset their emissions. I think so. I mean there are many great studies out there looking at the impact of projects and we welcome them but we shouldn't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater just because one study that identified some projects that according to one methodology. Were different than what we say. He says very uses studies like this to update their certification process. In fact earlier this month vera updated its rules for future forest projects but there are lots of companies still buying offsets from those projects in brazil and they may not be saving as many trees as they thought for npr news. I'm julia

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