South Pole, the world’s leading seller of so-called carbon “credits,” is not what it claims to be.
When it was first hatched, the operation, co-founded by Renat Heuberger, branded itself as a solution to the climate problem of deforestation. By selling carbon offsets to businesses bound by “green” mandates, South Pole would generate a profit to funnel back into local communities and organizations aiming to conserve the environment – or so South Pole told its customers.
In practice, South Pole hurtled towards a valuation of $1 billion while its clients were left holding the bag. Such is the nature of the market for carbon credits and other green scams.
The company’s biggest project right now is called Kariba, located in Zimbabwe. South Pole claimed that it would help prevent the annihilation of a forest nearly the size of Puerto Rico, but this has not happened.
Several outside experts conducted an analysis of Kariba and found that it vastly overestimated the extent of preservation actually taking place. Companies like Gucci, McKinsey, and Nestle that purchased Kariba credits to offset their own contributions to “climate change” and “global warming” are now having to backtrack their own climate claims “because the Kariba credits they bought haven’t generated enough real atmospheric benefit,” to quote a report from Bloomberg about the scandal.
“Most of Kariba’s €100 million in proceeds have gone to South Pole and its project partner, a company called Carbon Green Investments, not – as both companies previously indicated in interviews and public blog posts – to people in the rural communities who do the work of fighting deforestation,” that same report indicates.
(Related: In 2016, we reported that climate change profiteers had already at that time created a $53 billion market based on fear and fraud.)
Multinational corporations ditching South Pole and its Kariba scam
Many of South Pole’s biggest customers are now regretting their decision to ever get involved with the Kariba scam. Barclays, L’Oreal, and McKinsey, all told Bloomberg Green that they have either used up their Kariba credits or have no further plans to purchase more.
A Dutch energy company called Greenchoice that purchased more than four million Kariba credits said it was “unpleasantly surprised” to learn that nothing beneficial for the environment was actually accomplished. Greenchoice indicated that it is launching an investigation to determine how to proceed.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which used 75,000 Kariba credits back in December in order to reach its own climate targets, says it is “pausing any future investments with South Pole.”
By all appearances, South Pole is simply pocketing cash while claiming to fight global warming. The company claims, however, that there are “complex forces” at work, specifically with deforestation, and that Kariba credits are still credible somehow and follow industry standards.
“We are genuinely proud of the project, which has protected over 750,000 hectares of forest and benefited many thousands of people in a rural area in Zimbabwe,” South Pole said in an unsubstantiated statement about its business.
According to Ecosystem Marketplace, the carbon credits market quadrupled in value in 2021, reaching an astounding $2 billion. However, persistent questions about the legitimacy of this market as a real solution for climate protection is progressively exposing the scheme as a money-making scam operation.
“No one who buys a five-kilo pack of potatoes at the supermarket wants to end up only having one kilo,” says Jürg Füssler, a carbon market veteran who currently heads up the environmental work department at INFRAS, a research and consulting firm located in Zurich.
“That’s what’s happening now. The basic market confidence is shattered.”
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