‘Right tree in the right place’ – tree planting must be led by local communities, not large companies


Plaid Cymru MP leads debate in Parliament on the purchase of agricultural land for carbon offsetting

Plaid Cymru’s Environment, Food & Rural Affairs spokesperson in Westminster, Ben Lake MP lead a debate in Westminster yesterday (13 July) on the purchase of agricultural land for forestry and carbon offsetting by large companies.

Carbon offsetting is the idea that businesses can offset their environmental impact by planting trees or supporting other forms of habitat restoration in order to ‘cancel out’ the damage they do to the environment. However, offsetting schemes have been criticised by environmental organisations such as Greenpeace for providing “a good story that allows companies to swerve away from taking meaningful action on their carbon emissions.”

Farmers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and south Powys have recently reported that entire farms have been purchased by major international companies to offset their carbon footprint.

Mr Lake said that such developments could “risk rural communities and the Welsh language being undermined for the sake of a greenwashed business-as-usual by large corporations”. 

In his speech, he argued that the policy principle of “the right tree in the right place” must be upheld, and that the carbon offset market should be regulated in order to ensure that tree planting is done in such a way that benefits local biodiversity and communities.

Following the debate, Ben Lake MP said:

“Tree planting has a crucial role in helping us address the climate and biodiversity crisis. However, we must ensure that it is properly planned and regulated in order to ensure that the benefits are fully realised, and to avoid unintended consequences for rural communities. 

“This debate was an opportunity to draw attention to the dangers of taking an overly simplistic approach to carbon offsetting, and to explore the potential pitfalls of encouraging a system that focuses on offsetting as opposed to fundamentally reducing emissions. Tackling climate change should not be an opportunity for large companies to greenwash their emissions at the expense of rural communities, all the while continuing to emit millions of tonnes of CO2.

“Tree planting projects will best succeed where they are delivered by local groups and farmers working alongside the Welsh Government, and with an eye not only to sequestering carbon and promoting biodiversity, but also ensuring that local communities, not multinational corporations, benefit from the income derived from them. Our natural resources are invaluable assets, and so we cannot allow them to be exploited yet again by large businesses attempting to ‘greenwash’ their carbon credentials without the slightest concern for rural communities - or the Welsh language, which depends so much on their continued vitality.”

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  • Carys Lloyd
    published this page in News 2021-07-19 17:33:33 +0100

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