No. A carbon credit can be transacted, and the owner can claim a property right. When a company offsets its CO2, water footprint or similar, it is essentially supporting a forest owner or manager who can demonstrate that, with the financial resources received, they able to generate a positive impact in terms of avoidance (avoidance of emissions, e.g. through protection and improvement of existing forests) or removals (removal of CO2, typically achieved through planting new trees and reforestation).
Today, climate change mitigation actions around the world can be demonstrated through a variety of instruments among which:
- financing the planting of new trees, without using certification standards;
- including forests to be protected or planted in the company's assets (e.g. the company buys land and carries out reforestation which becomes a company asset);
- purchase of carbon credits generated according to international standards, such as VERRA, Gold Standard, etc;
- purchasing carbon credits or similar instruments from domestic markets such as Woodland Carbon Code in the UK, Label Bas Carbone in France and perhaps soon (2023) with Carbon Farming in Europe;
- sponsoring positive international impacts on ecosystem services certified to standards such as FSC®.
The FSC system, following the instructions of its members and stakeholders, has deliberately developed a different tool from carbon credits, with some fundamental differences. For example, the positive impacts verified through the FSC Procedure on Ecosystem Services are not "resalable" and the support to the forest manager is not configured as a purchase of an asset, but rather as a "financial sponsorship".
This aspect is a strength of the FSC system because forests are not photovoltaic panels, which have only one function, but perform several functions at the same time (CO2 capture, water production, timber and firewood, hunting, mushroom picking, etc.). The procedure allows the correct balance of these functions of the forest without one overpowering or compromising the others.