How CarboTax is Using REDD+ Carbon Credits to Fight Deforestation

By Jazmin Murphy | Updated on October 14, 2021

REDD+ offsetting projects have recently come under fire due to some concerns about a lack of transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, this means that legitimate associated organizations, such as CarboTax, are also facing upticks in public scrutiny.

Despite the lack of a central regulatory authority over REDD+ projects, CarboTax maintains openness with its supporters and helps generate valuable carbon dioxide (CO2) credits for climate health.

But many people wonder… How does CarboTax use these REDD+ carbon credits as a reputable and legitimate way of fighting deforestation?

REDD+ is a United Nations initiative meaning “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries.” But there are plenty of grey-areas.

An 8 Billion Trees graphic titled, "What is REDD+" that explains how it stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, an international framework developed by the UN to fight global warming.

What Does CarboTax Do with Your Money To Fight Deforestation?

CarboTax is a critical tool for individuals looking to shrink their carbon footprints.1 IAs a web-based application, it takes visitors through 33 questions about their locations and lifestyles, to determine how much carbon dioxide they emit annually.

Carbon and ecological footprint calculators are great tools for determining your carbon emissions, which can be a good indicator of your environmental impact.

These sorts of carbon footprint calculators, like CarbonTax, are an excellent resource for planning personal offsets (to purchase through one of the best carbon offset programs), comparing users’ greenhouse gas (GHG) output to the national average, and identifying individual energy habits.

Naturally, you might be interested in where your money is going when you subscribe to a tree planting carbon offset plan.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the source of much of the controversy surrounding CarboTax lately, due to wavering confidence in REDD+ carbon credits, which is what they utilize. However, you can rest assured that their collaborative partners are indeed trustworthy.

CarboTax has partnered with Natural Capital Partners (NCP), a global leader in sourcing certified carbon credits. Additionally, the company supports numerous ocean conservation projects through its partnership with Oceans5 and Forest and Sea Fund.

Natural Capital Partners and Carbotax Team Up

NCP primarily supports forestry offset projects because, as the company states, “Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today…”2

Particularly, NCP supports their clients by delivering reforestation projects in areas directly relevant to their business. Their efforts center on three main goals:

  • Enhancing supply chain resilience: Supply chains fluctuate as society and the climate change. In 2020, experts urged business owners to be mindful of their supply chains as environmental health declined. The United Nations Development Programme predicted that “workplace disruption in the United States could rise to above $2 trillion by 2030.”3
  • Training tree-planting staff: Trees are some of the most important tools humans have for fighting climate change.4 Not only do they sequester carbon, but they help manage surface water movement, and even cool land surface and air temperatures. NCP trains staff to participate in planting 130 hectares of native Irish woodlands with the Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF), and more.
  • Developing green community spaces: Studies have increasingly shown that community green spaces are essential to environmental and human health, and more sustainable architecture options are entering the market. In 2018, researchers found that “urban greening” significantly improved people’s mental health. After introducing “greened” vacant lots to various neighborhoods, 41.5% of those surveyed felt decreased depression, and 62.8% fewer people reported “poor mental health.”5

This represents only a fraction of the climate efforts supported by CarboTax-payers funds.

Ocean Projects

There are numerous afforestation projects available today; yet, it’s important to emphasize the value of other environmental initiatives too, such as marine conservation.

CarboTax partnered with The Forest and Sea Fund to help people offset their carbon emissions through rebuilding fisheries, aquaculture, protecting and preserving “blue forests” (i.e., mangrove forests), and more. Along with these projects, the Forest and Sea Fund’s 2020-2021 carbon credit purchase certificates show that they’ve supported:6

  • Acre Amazonian Rainforest REDD+
  • Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve REDD+
  • Keo Seima REDD+

In addition to these projects, CarboTax’s partnership with Oceans5 empowers several other marine protection programs worldwide.7 This organization has several projects in countries, including:

  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • North America
  • Africa

A mature green sea turtle underwater among coral and seaweed, in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

Recent Concerns Surrounding REDD+ Carbon Credits

Although these projects are admirable, people have become increasingly distrusting toward REDD+ carbon credits because of poor regulation in the Voluntary Carbon Marketplace (VCM). Recent investigations indicating offset overestimations have caused doubt about their effectiveness. For example, some REDD+ projects have been approved for areas that are in no danger of deforestation, meaning their estimates are null.

The voluntary carbon marketplace has suddenly expanded in Brazil, in response to public frustration with the Bolsonaro government’s inaction. Though the growing offsets market is ideal, the lack of government participation is weakening the logistical infrastructure. This means that the developing carbon trade pushes on, with little to no regulation for issuing credits.8

Nevertheless, REDD+ projects have enjoyed fast growth for supporting forestry projects like reforestation programs and deforestation prevention.

On the one hand, supporters are eager for new opportunities for small farmers and Indigenous communities to enter the VCM. Still, many are worried about the level of transparency and accountability (or lack thereof) they can expect from the new system.

Janaína Dallan, the founder of a private company partially responsible for an offset project in Fortaleza do Ituxi, told Mongabay News, “In the beginning, all the neighbors said he was crazy, that he was losing money. [But] after he started to sell the first [REDD+] carbon credits, some people in the area were convinced to do the same.”8

However, others doubt the potential success of REDD+ projects. This is partly due to the initiative’s inception, which was meant to encourage countries the world over to launch “’results-based programs,” shifting focus to climate projects’ longevity and candidness.

Sadly, this was met by a much lower amount of funding than the “billions of dollars” expected when introduced by the UN. Few new climate programs were launched, weakening the REDD+ influence even more.8

Ultimately, REDD+ was reduced to a “logo to attract financing.”9

Fortunately, organizations supported through CarboTax — such as Natural Capital Partners, the Forest and Sea Fund, and Oceans5 — demonstrate that this is far from true. Not only that, but the REDD+ Web Platform explicitly outlines all the offsets that approved projects generate in the Lima REDD+ Information Hub.9

An 8 Billion Trees graphic depicting "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), with illustrations of people performing research and environmental conservation.

Offset Your Carbon with a Project You Can Trust

With no central regulating authority overseeing the REDD+ projects, it’s understandable that many are wary of donating to associated organizations, even though the initiative’s goal is commendable. This has cast a negative shadow on other programs related to the initiative, even though they might be legitimate and have positive effects on the climate.

Groups such as CarboTax ensure consistent transparency and authentic support of programs, like those run by Natural Capital Partners, the Forest and Sea Fund, and Oceans5.

Plus, as many of their projects focus on afforestation efforts and marine conservation. Their work is invaluable for climate resilience and the persistence of human and non-human life globally.

You can help fight the climate crisis, too. All you have to do is calculate your own carbon footprint, and learn the ways that you can offset your CO2 emissions. By choosing an offset project that does more than sell a label (like CarboTax), you can help restore ecosystems and habitats, as well as save the planet from impending climate change.


References

1CarboTax. (n.d.). CarboTax. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://carbotax.org/

2Natural Capital Partners. (n.d.). Forests. https://www.naturalcapitalpartners.com/solutions/solution/forests

3Baskin, K. (2020, February 11). Supply chain resilience in the era of climate change. MIT Sloan. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/supply-chain-resilience-era-climate-change

4Climate Feedback. (n.d.). The potentials and limitations of tree plantings as a climate solution. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://climatefeedback.org/the-potentials-and-limitations-of-tree-plantings-as-a-climate-solution/

5South, E. C., Hohl, B. C., Kondo, M. C., MacDonald, J. M., & Branas, C. C. (2018). Effect of Greening vacant land on mental health of community-dwelling adults. JAMA Network Open, 1(3), e180298. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0298

6Blue Ventures Beyond Conservation. (n.d.). Blue forests. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://blueventures.org/conservation/blue-forests/

7Oceans5. (n.d.). Current projects. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://www.oceans5.org/projects/

8Wenzel, F. (2021, April 6). Government inaction prompts voluntary REDD+ carbon credit boom in Brazil. Mongabay Environmental News. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/04/government-inaction-prompts-voluntary-redd-carbon-credit-boom-in-brazil/

9Song, L. (2019, May 22). An (Even more) inconvenient truth: Why carbon credits for forest preservation may be worse than nothing. ProPublica. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from: https://features.propublica.org/brazil-carbon-offsets/inconvenient-truth-carbon-credits-dont-work-deforestation-redd-acre-cambodia/