French oil and gas producer TotalEnergies SE has started a project to plant 40 million trees over 10 years in the Republic of Congo as part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Fossil fuel companies are under increasing pressure from governments and shareholders to fight climate change. TotalEnergies and its European peers have outlined net-zero plans that include investments in renewable energy and other low-carbon fuels, and also plans to develop natural carbon sinks such as forests to offset some of their emissions.
Some of the initiatives backed by oil companies have become controversial, with questions raised about whether they make unrealistic claims about the environmental benefits the projects deliver. That’s making it more important for governments around the world, which are currently participating in climate talks in Glasgow, to clarify rules about carbon offsets.
TotalEnergies said in a statement on Monday that its project in the African nation, conducted in partnership with Foret Ressources Management, will plant a new forest on 40,000 hectares of land on the Bateke Plateaux, and care for it for 35 years.
The initiative will absorb about 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year from the atmosphere over twenty years, equivalent to the annual emissions of an average European city of 70,000 inhabitants, the company said. The carbon credits will be certified in accordance with the Verified Carbon Standard.
Over the past eight months, tree nurseries in Congo have produced more than one million plants, which will be progressively planted from the next rainy season on 800 hectares of land, TotalEnergies said.
The company plans to spend $100 million a year building a portfolio of projects that would generate at least 5 million metric tons of carbon credits annually by 2030. They would used after 2030 to offset greenhouse gases from the company’s operations, known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
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