An explosive report from Greenpeace has cast a shadow over the booming market for “carbon neutral” liquefied natural gas (LNG), exposing the deceptive use of low-quality carbon offsets by major oil and gas corporations in China and beyond. The report points fingers at industry giants like PetroChina, CNOOC Gas and Power, and their collaboration with Shell in purchasing LNG branded as “carbon neutral.”
Greenpeace’s investigation revealed that these companies are leveraging “forest offsets” to offset carbon emissions tied to LNG shipments. However, the environmental group has vehemently criticized this practice, asserting that it serves as a guise for corporations to sidestep robust emissions reduction commitments while misleading the public with the “carbon neutral” label.
Li Jiatong, project leader at Greenpeace Beijing, condemned the use of carbon offsets by oil and gas entities, labeling them as a deceptive tactic that obscures their escalating carbon emissions.
Red Flags and Inconsistencies
The report highlighted several alarming issues with these carbon offset schemes, citing inconsistencies in measurement and the potential for double counting. Greenpeace raised concerns about the vulnerability of forests tied to offset programs, emphasizing the risk of fires that could transform these areas from carbon sinks to sources.
According to Greenpeace’s findings, a significant portion of the forestry carbon sink projects, involving major players like Shell, PetroChina, and CNOOC, have planted trees at a high risk of being destroyed by fires, questioning the reliability of their carbon offset initiatives.
Growing Demand and Environmental Impact
The surge in “carbon neutral” LNG sales, primarily driven by escalating gas demand in Asia, especially China, has raised significant concerns. Greenpeace pointed out that nearly 85 percent of these carbon neutral shipments have been directed towards Asian buyers, amplifying the potential environmental impact of such deceptive practices.
Implications for COP28 Talks
As the world gears up for COP28 discussions, the concept of “carbon neutral” gas is anticipated to be a focal point. Polly Hemming from the Australia Institute highlighted the divisive nature of gas as a “bridge fuel” in the energy transition. While comparatively cleaner than coal, it remains a contentious issue for anti-fossil fuel groups opposing new gas projects.
The revelations from Greenpeace’s report underscore a growing need for transparency and stringent regulations in the carbon offset market, especially within the LNG sector, to ensure genuine and impactful efforts in combating climate change.