Bootleg Fire is burning up carbon offsets
July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 17.8%. 1 min read.
Spot fires smolder near trees damaged by the Bootleg Fire on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Paisley, Ore. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)
These forests were meant to survive one hundred years. Persistent drought and wildfire conditions are threatening carbon offsets. The question is whether these offsets matter, if their stored carbon goes up in smoke due to climate change.
At the time of this report, the flames spread through one fifth of forests set aside for carbon offsets in the immediate area.
Some of that land is private, including the carbon offset known as Klamath East owned and operated by the Green Diamond Resource Company, a forest products company.
Under California Cap and Trade, if your company is looking to offset its emissions, you can still buy carbon credits from the Klamath East offsets even though they're losing trees to wildfires because of how these trees are insured.
Beverly Law, professor emeritus of Global Change Biology at Oregon State University College of Forestry, said carbon-offset programs often take into account that some forest may burn.
When wildfires burn up carbon offsets, it's not the responsibility of the landowner, the buyer of the credit, or the seller of the credit to evaluate whether that carbon credit still represents a metric ton of CO2 absorbed by trees.
And if in only one or two seasons of wildfires, these wildfires strip away at the offset buffer pool, climate change will likely collect more of these carbon credits than CARB is prepared for.