The countries have been selling carbon credits to the UK as part of a UN deal, and in some cases were even creating problems in order to solve them to create and sell the credits. According to one of the authors of the study, “this was like printing money”.
The European companies buying carbon credits did so to offset their own emissions, and therefore did not take any action to consume less energy themselves.
These research results come from the Stockholm Environment Institute, who examined 60 projects picked at random. 73% of the projects did not meet the UN’s criteria of “additionality”. This term means that the project needs financial help from carbon credits for it to happen at all. In many cases, Russia and Ukraine registered projects that were going to happen with or without the carbon credits.
There were even incidents in which chemicals known to warm the atmosphere were created just so they could be destroyed for the carbon credit.
The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme bought most of the bad credits, which set back the Union’s long-term plan for emission reduction. The Stockholm study reported that the EU believed they had offset 400 million tonnes more carbon dioxide than they thought, equivalent to $2 billion.
The researchers emphasize that they cannot directly prove that, for instance, the chemicals were created just to sell the credit for destroying them. However, of the three projects they examined, after the UN deal that allowed the countries to sell credits, the amount of chemicals being destroyed increased significantly.
Countries that have stricter guidelines on which projects can be registered, such as Poland and Germany, are very careful about which they approve. Russia and Ukraine, on the other hand, were allowed to approve projects with little to no international oversight.