Last month, Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West, quizzed Welsh farmers about how it helped the climate crisis when British Airways bought up Welsh farms to put trees on them in order that they could fly more planes. He was referring to an example in Carmarthenshire, where a dozen farms have reportedly been sold to make way for afforestation projects, but there are also examples in Ceredigion and Breconshire too. It is quite “ridiculous”, he told the Welsh Affairs Committee, that farming in Wales was being displaced “because of some sort of carbon offset to enable BA to fly more planes around the world”.
His explanation of the carbon market is simplistic and yet it highlights just how nuanced it is. The whole carbon trading market was described recently by Mark Carney as a “wild west”. Something that Nick Fenwick from FUW also agrees with It is very complicated and it is generally a free-for-all,” he said. “It works by effectively creating carbon shares which can then be sold on the market, he said, with the caveat that even he struggles to get his head around it.”
But that is exactly what is happening. According to Plaid Cymru, more than £1.3million of Welsh Government funding for tree planting has gone to applicants outside of Wales in the last 10 years. And those London-based companies own the carbon credits those trees produce too. It’s as if there are two different registers for trees and carbon, said Mr Fenwick.
Plaid’s spokesperson for agriculture and rural affairs, Cefin Campbell MS, has called this “brazen greenwashing” from speculators undertaking a “land grab” of Welsh farmland” to “ease their carbon conscience”. Data obtained by Plaid Cymru shows that across the first nine windows, £1,306,561 of allocated funds went to applicants with addresses outside of Wales. This represents 14% of all allocated funds.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)