WWF raises offsetting concerns amid SBTi standards row

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has joined a row that erupted this month after climate-certification organisation SBTi announced it is considering allowing companies to meet climate targets with carbon offsets.

The announcement sparked a row within the organisation amid concerns that firms can use offsets to avoid cutting their emissions.

The WWF, which is a founder of SBTi, has backed concerns over the decision saying that “offsets cannot be a substitute for reducing emissions from company operations, products, and value chains”.

“To support the radical transformation we need to see from companies, WWF has long advocated that carbon offsetting needs to be limited in its application to address a small percentage of residual emissions, be bolstered by increased accountability and pursued as part of a holistic and scientifically defined reduction pathway.”

The SBTi announced the plans earlier this month relating to its Scope 3 emissions standards around offsetting. A discussion paper with a draft proposal will be published in July.

“Critically, companies with complex value chains need updates to Scope 3 guidance – to provide implementable, solution-oriented mechanisms that focus on prioritizing emission reductions,” added WWF in its statement.

“As SBTi continues its work to define Scope 3 guardrails for use of market mechanisms, to be published in July, WWF will continue to call for rigorous science and good governance to underpin all of SBTI’s efforts.

“Updated guidance should also address the very real concerns regarding the poor track record of offsets in delivering real emissions reductions and driving market transformation.

“WWF supports robust science-based processes for standards and guidance development which provide the foundation for SBTi to remain the gold standard for climate target-setting, reporting and implementation.”

In announcing plans to change its guidance, SBTi said: “While recognizing that there is an ongoing healthy debate on the subject matter, SBTi recognizes that, when properly supported by policies, standards and procedures based on scientific evidence, the use of environmental attribute certificates for abatement purposes on Scope 3 emissions could function as an additional tool to tackle climate change.

“Consequently, SBTi has decided to extend their use for the purpose of abatement of Scope 3 related emissions beyond the current limits.”

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