What does carbon offset actually mean for US forests?

By Sarah Kuta, University of Colorado
September 13, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

In a single calendar year, a mature tree can take in roughly 48 pounds of CO2. This natural process is at the heart of the world’s carbon offset industry, in which companies and consumers counteract their CO2 emissions by buying credits from projects that remove or reduce emissions. …With a new paper published in the journal PLOS Climate, they shed more light on the murky world of forest carbon offset projects in the United States, including what they entail. They also raise important questions about the risk wildfires pose to carbon offset projects. …After analyzing their newly developed dataset, the researchers found that 96% of all carbon offset credits from U.S. forestry projects were issued for improved forest management practices. That may come as a surprise to companies and consumers, who may be under the impression they’re paying for credits that involve planting new trees or protecting forests.

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