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Tue May 4, 2021, 08:18 AM

All Kinds Of Modeling Problems With Verra, Used As A Carbon Offset Mechanism By Airlines, Banks, Etc


The Guardian and Unearthed looked at 10 projects, which supply credits to six major airlines, including British Airways and easyJet, to assess, as best we could with the help of experts and commissioned satellite analysis, exactly how realistic their predictions were. Although this is not a comprehensive analysis of voluntary Redd+ projects, these projects make up 10 of the 79 that Verra oversees, so an analysis will give some helpful insight into the functioning of the larger sector. We looked at the tools they had used for their predictions, and at the outcomes to date.

The investigation found an inconsistent use of predictive methods and tools. Two of the projects had used Dinamica EGO to estimate where deforestation would take place given threats to the environment. Soares-Filho cautioned against its use for Redd+ projects, and said the modelling approach of calculating forward-looking baselines resulted in “phantom credits” because the software was not designed to accurately predict the future. Two had modelled deforestation and land use change using a tool that allows them to assume a massive rise in the rate of deforestation compared with the historical rate.

One project had used a simple single variable model, which predicted a large increase in deforestation in the absence of the project. Another two had built their own models – one claiming the entire rainforest would be gone without them, another claiming that about a quarter would go. Another adopted a baseline from the national government. One said it would prevent large amounts of deforestation with sustainable nut farming, another with a mixture of planned logging and forestry protection.

We looked at the previous deforestation rates in and around the projects, and compared them with the predicted rates. Here, we found that where we were able to compare, the projects had generally predicted deforestation rates that seemed inconsistent with previous rates. One project forecast an annual rate that was triple that in the worst year before it started. One in a remote, inaccessible part of the jungle was basing its predictions on the rate of deforestation either side of a major road. Another was looking after an area which had been converted into a national park and where there had been no illegal deforestation for years. Despite this, it predicted a huge increase in deforestation if the project was not there. One had very low rates of deforestation before the project started but forecast high annual rates without it, while another had adopted a generally conservative approach. It was impossible to assess the forecasts of five projects because of technical limitations and methodologies they had used.



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