Norway Carbon Offset Deal Blows Up Rationale for Biden’s Trillions to Fight Climate Change
Norway is paying the Central African country of Gabon $17 million to reduce deforestation. It’s a transaction that exposes the fraud of carbon offsets, if not climate alarmism itself.
The notion of a carbon offset is simple. Nations, businesses, organizations and individuals who are concerned about their emissions from fossil fuel use can purchase carbon offsets from sellers who are in the business of “storing” carbon dioxide (CO2) underground.
The most common practice of storing CO2 by offset sellers is either tree planting or not cutting down trees. Certain agricultural and land use practices also qualify.
So Norway has paid Gabon for not cutting down trees and is taking credit for helping to save the planet. But there’s more to the story.
A basic problem with carbon offsets is that purchasers are buying them for emissions being emitted now, but CO2 storage that would only happen much later because trees take a long time to grow. There is no offset that removes CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as it is emitted.
Another offset problem is that the calculations of how much carbon is stored by various offset methods are just guesstimates that have never been verified or validated. Although the basic lifecycle of carbon is well understood, the actual quantities are not.
Yet another problem with offsets is whether “stored” CO2 actually stays underground. A farmer’s field left fallow for a year or so will soak up some amount of carbon, but as soon as it is tilled again much, if not all, of that stored CO2 will be lost again to the atmosphere thanks to microbiologic processes.
Norway has long positioned itself as green, even though it is one of world’s largest oil producers. Norway plans to increase its oil production by 40 percent by 2025 and is expanding its Arctic drilling program.
To maintain its green pose, Norway is buying offsets. What’s interesting about the Gabon offsets is that Norway is purchasing them for a mere $5 per ton of CO2 “stored.”
Keeping in mind that Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats want to spend trillions and trillions of dollars on climate, Norway seems to have found a solution it can sign on to – CO2 offsets at $5 per ton.
The U.S. consumption of energy produces about 5 billion tons pf CO2 per year. So at $5 per ton, the entire U.S. energy-related CO2 footprint could be offset Norway-style for “mere” $25 billion. That is a lot less than Biden’s trillion and trillions of dollars.
If global energy-related emissions are on the order of 40 billion tons, then the for a “mere” $200 billion in CO2 offsets we could dispense with the supposed need to “decarbonize” our global economy.
At the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Al Gore proposed to spend $90 trillion rebuilding the word’s cities so that people will no longer need cars. But for a fraction of that, the world could adopt the Norway offset standard and, for $5 ton, solve the alleged climate problem.
Norway’s $5 per ton deal has all sorts of other ramifications. The European cap-and-trade system prices a ton of CO2 at about $55 per ton. The Norwegian solution is 90 percent less expensive.
The Biden administration wants to increase the dubious climate metric called the “social cost of carbon” from de minimis Trump era level of $1 to $6 per ton back to the Obama era of around $40 per ton. But Norway has priced carbon at a Trumpian level of about $5 per ton.
Iceland has a contraption to suck CO2 out of the air at a cost of $775 per ton. South Korea is building high speed rail to reduce CO2 emission at a cost of about $1,900 per ton. But the Norway-Gabon project has them all beat by a long shot.
So either carbon offsets are just a total fraud or the Biden climate plan is a total joke. Or worse, environmental extremist bureaucrats around the world have just been conning everyone for the past 50 years.
Maybe it’s all of the above.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA.”