Lyme Timber earned US$53M from carbon offsets in past two years; now the company’s CEO is calling out the entire system, hoping to help repair its flaws so forest carbon markets can survive and grow by delivering real climate value

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LOS ANGELES , March 17, 2022 () –

Lyme Timber Co.’s CEO Jim Hourdequin is on a mission to help repair the flaws in the growing, but increasingly controversial, carbon offset market. He has started by calling out the entire system, likely positioning himself as the first major industry participant to do so from the inside, Bloomberg reported on March 17.

New Hampshire-based Lyme Timber sells carbon credits on about 220,000 acres, or 15% of its land, and earned US$53 million from carbon offsets in the past two years, according to Bloomberg. 

A self-described “stickler for structured analysis,” Hourdequin said weak rules had created strong incentives for landowners to develop carbon offset projects that don’t change how forests are managed and do little in the battle against climate change. Most forest carbon projects fall into this category, including some of Lyme Timber’s own projects, he admitted.

He believes forest carbon markets must deliver “real climate value” if they are to survive and grow. Misleading claims about the benefits of carbon offset projects are under a spotlight, and accusations of greenwashing have wrong-footed even some leading environmental groups, according to Bloomberg Green research. 

Hourdequin and others argue the offset market is at a key inflection point and needs to change to be respected as a climate solution. A BloombergNEF research report in January noted: “The current design of the voluntary carbon market is doomed to fail.”  

Hourdequin is also aware of the downsides to speaking out, not least in exposing Lyme Timber to criticism. But he seems resolute, telling Bloomberg: “Ten years into this market, I think it’s fair to be asking whether these projects are delivering climate mitigation. If they’re not, it’s fair to begin demanding that they do.”

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, March 17, 2022, via Yahoo!Finance. The full, feature-length article can be viewed here.

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