A pledge to tackle the climate crisis has turned into the opposite of carbon offsetting — all using council funding (they declined to tell VICE World News how much). “Councils don’t have a lot of money,” Dr Charlie Gardner, a conservation scientist and local climate activist, told me as he showed me through the site. “There was a lot of good that could have been done with that money. But it’s clear to me that doing good wasn’t ever an objective, it was just seen to be doing something. That’s what makes me sad about the whole thing.”
A number of regional and national governments have announced enormous tree planting schemes in the past few years as momentum has built to tackle the climate crisis — and many of them haven’t gone to plan. Hackney Council’s partnership with charity Trees for Cities, which was funded by Coca Cola’s company Honest Organic, was criticized in 2020 when it appeared that most, if not all, of the 4,000 trees planted had died. Environmentalists have criticized Pakistan’s “10 billion trees” project for being an expensive waste of resources and Egypt, which will host the next UN climate conference, claims it will plant 100 million trees across the country. “There are no quick fixes with this crisis,” Dr Charlie Gardner, a conservation scientist and local climate activist, said. “Simply planting trees isn’t the answer. If we want these trees to have a real impact, they’ve got to still be alive in 100 years and that means it’s a 100-year commitment, not a 1-day commitment.”
“The most important thing is to stop burning fossil fuels. The second most important thing is conserve the nature we already have. Trying to create new nature to absorb our fossil fuel emissions is way down the list of priorities.”
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