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The Guardian view on carbon offsetting: an overhaul is overdue | Editorial

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The emerging carbon offsets market is chaotic and dysfunctional. Problems need to be addressed openly, and resolved as quickly as possible. A joint investigation by the Guardian, the German weekly Die Zeit and SourceMaterial revealed in January that the vast majority of rainforest offset credits from the leading certifier – which are sold to companies that then use them to make claims about their overall emissions – do not offer the environmental benefits that they claim. Since then, scrutiny has only increased, with more questions being asked of the western businesses behind projects such as Kariba, a huge offset-promoted forest in Zimbabwe.

Recognising the urgent need to rebuild flagging confidence, if the carbon-trading system is not to collapse as it did once before, the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market last week announced that new rules for offset issuers will be announced in May. A separate process overseen by a different body is reviewing the claims that businesses make, based on their offset purchases. While all this might sound remote from the…

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