Last changed: 30 January 2023
Office building

This guide helps you as a company to identify key issues that are important to make carbon forestry projects contribute to positive benefits for local populations.

Retailers selling carbon credits usually communicate all the good things about their projects and gloss over potential problems - projects may sound perfect when described on webpages or other communication materials. The guide is developed for companies that are “far away” from the actual projects and helps you by pointing out issues that are important in order for a project to benefit local communities living on and around a project site.

Even if you invest in projects that are certified by standards, these are not all-encompassing. Also, since contexts are complex, standards cannot guarantee that the project brings benefits to local communities. Therefore, the questions in this guide are still relevant.

Keep in mind that you should focus on lowering your own emissions as much as possible. Reducing your emissions should never be replaced by carbon forestry investments, rather complemented by such – so-called ‘carbon offsetting’ is seriously questioned by science. Avoid calling your products “carbon neutral”, “climate positive”, or stating that “all emissions have been offset”, as this is misleading the customers. Note that the net-zero standard by the Science based targets initiative also urge that funding climate projects “should be in addition to deep emission cuts, not instead of them”.



The questions could be asked to organisations managing the projects or to carbon retailers selling credits from them. Also, you could expect consumers of your products to ask these questions to you if you invest in an offsetting project – so be prepared to answer them.
Warning signs point to great risks for negative local impacts. You should not buy carbon credits from projects that raise warning flags without investigating them further.

Click on one of these five themes to see the guide:
  1. Understanding the local context
  2. Land use and access for local populations
  3. Degradation/deforestation
  4. Socio economic opportunities and risks for local populations
  5. Power relations including participation

Instead of investing in potentially problematic projects you can focus your money and energy on lowering your own emissions through means you have perhaps not considered yet. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) gives some ideas on this page. Another very important action you can take is to get engaged in a civil society organisation or in a political party and show that you are among those who want action on climate change to happen.

Considering joining an initiative like the Exponential Roadmap Initiative where you can work with science-based targets and follow their 1,5 degree Business Playbook towards reducing your emissions.



Scientific References