Episode 47

Over the past year, multiple oil and gas companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in planting trees, or threatening to do so, to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. There are, however, several fundamental problems with what they are doing, or probably more accurately, pretending to do. First, most are planting trees to earn carbon offsets, as if they are at Church, confessed, received a penance – the carbon offsets – and were imparted absolution.  But even if they could be absolved by planting trees, which they can’t, surely they can’t then go and sell that absolution to consumers, which is exactly what some of them are doing. Shell for example has an entire effort trying to get petrol car drivers to pay a premium at the pump to buy carbon offsets from Shell, at a profit. Second, generating the carbon offsets from planting trees, even if this was real (it's not, in most cases) does not mean they can keep burning down the house.  They should be decreasing their emissions, not greenwashing. Finally, not much attention is being paid to what trees are being planted, how and where.  The reality is that planting trees is largely unnecessary. Far more critical is to stop global deforestation and to re-grow the global forest by preparing the ground, understanding our limitations and then getting out of the way.

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Over the past year, multiple oil and gas companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in planting trees, or threatening to do so, to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. There are, however, several fundamental problems with what they are doing, or probably more accurately, pretending to do. First, most are planting trees to earn carbon offsets, as if they are at Church, confessed, received a penance – the carbon offsets – and were imparted absolution.  But even if they could be absolved by planting trees, which they can’t, surely they can’t then go and sell that absolution to consumers, which is exactly what some of them are doing. Shell for example has an entire effort trying to get petrol car drivers to pay a premium at the pump to buy carbon offsets from Shell, at a profit. Second, generating the carbon offsets from planting trees, even if this was real (it’s not, in most cases) does not mean they can keep burning down the house.  They should be decreasing their emissions, not greenwashing. Finally, not much attention is being paid to what trees are being planted, how and where.  The reality is that planting trees is largely unnecessary. Far more critical is to stop global deforestation and to re-grow the global forest by preparing the ground, understanding our limitations and getting out of the way.

Assaad W. Razzouk

About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.


Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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