Prof Kevin Anderson withdraws from conference – “offsetting without scientific legitimacy”

Breaking News: Professor Kevin Anderson, the Manchester-based Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre, has withdrawn from a prestigious conference because of its use of “carbon offsetting.”
In a strongly-worded blog post, entitled “Offsetting (& CDM): a guarantee for 100 years or just a clever scam?” (see here), Professor Anderson – writing in a personal capacity explained –
“The Planet Under Pressure [website here] organisers have insisted that all delegates contribute £35 to a compulsory ‘offset’ scheme, and although they acknowledge “carbon offsetting is complex and controversial”, they nevertheless conclude “it seemed appropriate to take some responsibility for greenhouse gases for an international conference.” This position has forced me to withdraw from participation, instead I reiterate my long-held judgment that offsetting is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.”

Professor Anderson’s article, which was written with help from John Broderick and Dan Calvery, explains that “when considering our impact we have to consider the total sum of our emissions released between 2000 and 2100; offset projects must be measured over this period. There is no point in reducing emissions in the short-run by 1 tonne if the knock-on impact is 2 tonnes emitted in 2020 or even 1.5 tonnes in say 2050. The implications of this for the concept of offsetting … are profound.”

It concludes with a detailed explanation – with a ‘worked example’ of how good intentions involved in ‘offsetting’ a flight may very well rebound to cause higher overall emissions in the long-term.

MCFly has contacted (5.10pm, 27 March) the Press Office of The Planet under Pressure conference and made them aware of the post. We have asked for a comment, and as soon as one is provided, we will update this post to reflect that.

MCFly says: Anyone who has had the good fortune to see Professor Kevin Anderson explain the science of climate change and its implications will know he does not mince his words. We need more scientists to come out and tell it like it is. But scientists on their own cannot carry the weight. We need doctors, teachers, engineers, schoolchildren, pensioners and – well, everyone who can – to speak out and act responsibly. For this energy to be harnessed and sustained we do not need more conferences. We need (local) government, businesses and “civil society” (campaigning groups, trades unions, churches, sports clubs etc) to behave with transparency, intelligence and courage. Our children (or in any case our nephews and nieces) will not forgive us for our failure of nerve and resolve.

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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1 Response to Prof Kevin Anderson withdraws from conference – “offsetting without scientific legitimacy”

  1. Found this on facebook, and think it deserves re-posting;
    “I’m glad, I have always suspected that offsetting was just a scam that allowed soft campaigners to share ground with the commercial world in a synergetic hand-washing if you’ll forgive the religious analogy (unlike me!) – I wasn’t sure, but it just seemed far too easy and convenient and, most of all, far too popular with people you would expect to have to fight with to make progress.”

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