As COP28 gets under way in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today, green colonisation will be top of mind as financial carbon credits are being traded for real land belonging to indigenous people. As the world prepares to announce more energy transition commitments, the highlight will be carbon for land schemes against the backdrop of the gas deals expected to be discussed during COP28. 

The idea of carbon offsetting as we know it today was conceptualised in the 1980s. A US utility that owned a coal-fired plant wanted to offset the emissions of its plant. After investigations it discovered that this required the planting of 52-million trees, which was impossible given the plant’s location in Connecticut. The utility executive suggested planting these trees in Guatemala. This cost them $2m, pennies relative to the true cost of emissions. ..

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