Statement: Offsets Don’t Stop Climate Change | Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch

Statement: Offsets Don’t Stop Climate Change

October 6, 2021 | Statement

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Climate-driven wildfires, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather events daily impact every corner of the globe.

Yet the fossil fuel industry, big utilities, big agriculture, big finance — and their political allies — are pushing carbon offset schemes to allow them to continue releasing the greenhouse gases driving the climate crisis, harming Indigenous, Black, and other already-marginalized communities, and undermining sustainable farming and forestry practices.

The science is clear: we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and emissions-intensive agricultural practices like factory farming, while protecting forests, wetlands, and other natural carbon sinks. Every delay means greater impacts on our climate and more pollution in historically overburdened communities.

We call on leaders around the world to join us in rejecting offset schemes because these pay-to-pollute practices are nothing more than false and harmful solutions to the climate crisis.

  • Nature-based offsets cannot “offset” fossil fuel combustion. While fossil fuel companies and other polluters would like fossil carbon and biological carbon to be fully interchangeable, this has no scientific basis. Fossil carbon emissions are effectively permanent, coming from reservoirs deep in the earth where they have been stored for millions of years. When burned, the carbon pollution remains in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. In contrast, crops, soils, oceans, and forests are “fast-exchange” carbon reservoirs that have limited carbon storage capacity and can re-release carbon back into the atmosphere over the course of a few decades, or sometimes even over a few days. Offsets confuse this basic science by wrongly treating the Earth’s biosphere as an endless source of potential storage for fossil carbon emissions.
  • Offsets of any kind perpetuate environmental injustice. Greenhouse gas emitting industries are disproportionately sited in poor communities and communities of color, causing them to bear the brunt of pollution. Offset schemes increase pollution in these communities, worsening environmental injustice. Furthermore, by allowing pollution to continue in exchange for land grabs elsewhere, offsets often shift the burden of reducing emissions from the Global North to the Global South.
  • The use of offsets is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Polluters frequently purchase offsets for emissions-reducing practices by one entity, so that their own emissions can continue. In this case, emissions are still added to the atmosphere, so global warming continues. Polluters also purchase offsets for practices that could pull carbon out of the atmosphere, such as by planting forests or protecting existing forests. However, carbon storage in natural ecosystems is inherently temporary and highly reversible, as has been seen so clearly in the tragic forest fires in the U.S. west in the past few years. All that carbon can be released very quickly back into the atmosphere, again increasing emissions.
  • Offsets can result in violations of the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples. Satisfying market demands for offsets will require access to huge expanses of land and forest, lands already occupied by Indigenous Peoples, peasants, and local communities. As such, Indigenous lands are increasingly targeted by forest offset project developers, creating pressure and division in Indigenous communities.
  • Offsets undermine sustainable farming and increase consolidation in agriculture. Carbon offset programs give additional leverage to already powerful corporations, including agribusinesses and factory farms, that have long squeezed farm income and drained rural economies, while increasing environmental pollution. Corporations and large landowners are best-positioned to develop offset projects, which further entrenches the factory farm and corn/soybean monocultural model at the expense of small farmers, including Black and Indigenous farmers and Tribal Nations. Instead of allowing the industrial, extractive model of agriculture to further prosper by selling offsets to industrial polluters, policy makers should support traditional and ecologically regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Offsets markets create more conditions for fraud and gambling than for climate action. Existing offset schemes have already proven to be easily open to fraud. Yet the speculative trading of offsets derivatives and other financial products has already begun, prioritizing profit-seeking traders and speculators over economic and climate justice.

We call on global policy makers to reject offset schemes and embrace real climate solutions that will keep fossil fuels in the ground, support sustainable food systems, and end deforestation, while eliminating pollution in frontline communities.


To add your organization as a co-signer, please email


Amazon Watch
Amazon Frontlines
Forest Peoples Programme
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
Global Forest Coalition
Global Justice Ecology Project
Global Witness
International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
International Rights of Nature Tribunal
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Public Justice
Rainforest Action Network
Water Climate Trust
Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – WECAN


groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa (South Africa)
Justica Ambiental – JA! Friends of the Earth Mozambique (Mozambique)
Nipe Fagio (Tanzania)


Aid Organization (Bangladesh)
Environics Trust (India)
Sahabat Alam Malaysia – SAM (Malaysia)
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia – WALHI (Indonesia)
World Animal Protection (Thailand)


Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (Australia)


Action for World Solidarity – ASW (Germany)
Amigos de la Tierra España (Spain)
Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany (Germany)
Campaign against Climate Change (United Kingdom)
CCFD – Terre Solidaire (France)
Climáximo (Portugal)
Corporate Europe Observatory (Europe)
Counter Balance (Belgium)
Eco Action Families (Brighton, United Kingdom)
Emergenza Climatica (Italy)
Feedback (United Kingdom)
Fern (Austria)
Fridays for Future Exeter (Devon, United Kingdom)
Just Finance International (Denmark)
London Mining Network (London, United Kingdom)
Movimento No TAP/SNAM Provincia di Brindisi (Italy)
New Weather Institute (United Kingdom)
Per il Clima Fuori dal Fossile (Italy)
Termoli Bene Comune-Rete della Sinistra (Italy)
Water Justice and Gender (Netherlands)

SOUTH AMERICA América Latina (Latin America)
Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
Aliança RECOs – Redes de Cooperação Comunitária Sem Fronteiras (São Paulo, Brazil)
CEDENMA (Ecuador)
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas – COVEC (Panamá)
Convergencia de Saberes y Acción Territorial (Cundinamarca, Colombia)
CooperAcción (Perú)
Coordinación Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas – CONPI (Colombia)
FASE – Solidariedade e Educação (Brazil)
Fórum Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Socioambiental – FMCJS (Brazil)
Fundación Alejandro Labaka (Ecuador)
Fundación Alianza Ceibo (Ecuador)
Fundación Dignidad (Ecuador)
Instituto Madeira Vivo (Rondônia, Brazil)
LAGERI (Brazil)
Movimento Mulheres pela P@Z! (Brazil)
Somos Agua (Ecuador)


198 Methods (United States)
350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley (California, United States)
350 Eastside (Washington, United States)
350 Eugene (Oregon, United States)
350 Mass (Massachusetts, United States)
350 New Orleans (Louisiana, United States)
350 Seattle (Washington, United States)
350 Hawaii (United States)
350NYC (New York, United States)
A Well-Fed World (United States)
Action Center on Race and the Economy (United States)
ActionAid USA (United States)
Atmos (United States)
Between the Waters (Ohio, United States)
CatholicNetwork US (United States)
Alternatives for Community & Environment – ACE (Massachusetts, United States)
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (Oregon, United States)
Businesses for a Livable Climate (United States)
California Communities Against Toxics (California, United States)
Call to Action Colorado (Colorado, United States)
Center for International Environmental Law (United States)
Church Women United in New York State (New York, United States)
Climate Crisis Policy (New York, United States)
Climate Justice Alliance (United States)
Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline (New Jersey, United States)
Coalition to Protect New York (New York, United States)
CODEPINK (United States)
Compressor Free Franklin (New York, United States)
Connecticut Citizen Action Group – CCAG (Connecticut, United States)
Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y su Cultura – CPOOEM (Valle de México, México)
Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition (New Jersey, United States)
Earth Action, Inc. (United States)
Earthworks (United States) (New Jersey, United States)
Environmentalists Against War (United States)
Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area (California, United States)
Family Farm Defenders (United States)
Food and Water Watch (United States)
FrackBustersNy (New York, United States)
FreshWater Accountability Project (Ohio, United States)
Fridays for Future U.S. (United States)
Friends for Clean Water (New York, United States)
Friends of the Earth U.S. (United States)
Gas Free Seneca (New York, United States)
Global Exchange (United States)
Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet – GASP (Canada)
Green State Solutions (Iowa, United States)
Greenpeace USA (United States)
Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (United States)
Harford County Climate Action (Maryland, United States)
I-70/Vasquez Blvd. Superfund CAG (Colorado, United States)
Idle No More SF Bay (California, United States)
Indigenous Environmental Network (United States)
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (United States)
Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program (United States)
Jóvenes Por El Planeta Mich (Michoacán, México)
Kickapoo Peace Circle (Wisconsin, United States)
Local Clean Energy Alliance (California, United States)
Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action (Ohio, United States)
Montbello Neighborhood Improvement Association (Colorado, United States)
Nassau Hiking & Outdoor Club (New York, United States)
National Family Farm Coalition (United States)
New Mexico Climate Justice (New Mexico, United States)
NJ State Industrial Union Council (New Jersey, United States)
North American Climate, Conservation and Environment – NACCE (New York, United States)
North Range Concerned Citizens (Colorado, United States)
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Interstate Council (United States)
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (United States)
Oil and Gas Action Network (United States)
Open Markets Institute (United States)
People for a Healthy Environment (New York, United States)
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona Chapter (Arizona, United States)
People’s Climate Movement, Toronto and the GTA (Canada)
Power Past Fracked Gas (United States)
Progressive Democrats of America – Tucson Chapter (Arizona, United States)
Protecting Our Waters (United States)
RapidShift Network (United States)
ReCommon (United States)
Revolving Door Project (United States)
River Guardian Foundation (North Carolina, United States)
Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition (United States)
SanDiego350 (California, United States)
Seeding Sovereignty (United States)
Seneca Lake Guardian, A Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate (New York, United States)
Sisters of St. Francis, Rochester, MN (Minnesota, United States)
Small Business Alliance (United States)
South Shore Audubon Society (New York, United States)
Spirit of the Sun (Colorado, United States)
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (United States)
Sunflower Alliance (California, United States)
Sunrise Movement (United States)
System Change Not Climate Change (United States)
Texas Campaign for the Environment (Texas, United States)
The Climate Mobilization (United States)
The Green House Connection Center (Colorado, United States)
The People’s Justice Council (Alabama, United States)
TIAA-Divest! from Climate Destruction (United States)
Unite North Metro Denver (Colorado, United States)
US Network for Democracy in Brazil – USNDB (United States)
Wall of Women (Colorado, United States)
West End Revitalization Association – WERA (North Carolina, United States)

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