Spatial Computing - Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne - All that is Air Melts into Air

All that is Air Melts into Air

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne

Calculating carbon offsets from industrial sabotage. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk.

Spatial Computing
June 2024

Part 0: Net Zero

Carbon offsetting injects market logic into thin air. It demands that certain activities become measured and standardized, reduced to the single dimension of the carbon dioxide molecule. The goal is fungibility—to assert equivalence between activities by people or environments so that emissions created over here can be traded and (theoretically) compensated for by actions removing or reducing carbon over there. The means is, of course, commodification. Offsets privatize planetary metabolism.

Offsetting is the logic behind “net zero.” “Think about it like a bath,” suggests National Grid. “The amount of water in the bath depends on both the input from the taps and the output via the plughole. To keep the amount of water in the bath at the same level, you need to make sure that the input and output are balanced.”1 Or, as McKinsey & Company puts it: “Net zero is an ideal state where the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the earth’s atmosphere is balanced by the amount of greenhouse gasses removed.”2

Policymakers and corporations around the world have embraced the concept of net zero as a pathway to address the climate crisis. Nation states, corporations, public institutions, and even art exhibitions purchase offsets as financial assets (called carbon credits) in an attempt to compensate for their emissions and reach a state of carbon neutrality. Traded as financial commodities on carbon markets, offsets are supposed to represent either carbon dioxide reductions—via avoided emissions that would have otherwise happened in a business-as-usual scenario—or carbon dioxide removals—where some of the carbon already hanging about in the atmosphere is drawn down. Offsetting projects range from tree planting and conservation to changes in energy infrastructures, jet engine cleaning schemes, and programs for reducing methane emissions from cows. The carbon fluxes produced by offsetting projects are measured, quantified, priced, abstracted, and finally sold via carbon registries to emitters looking to claim a lower carbon footprint. What is counted as an offsetting project, however, and what is not, is left to the discretion of these registries.

The assumption underpinning offsets is that paying to compensate for emissions creates a powerful economic incentive for emissions reductions. In practice, however, it risks doing exactly the opposite. The logic of offsetting suggests that carbon intensive activities can continue as long as someone else, somewhere else, cleans up the mess.

Part 1: How to count to zero

The late 1980s and early ’90s were formative years for net zero thinking and saw the development of three offsetting projects that haunt environmental thought to this day. In 1989, the American power company AES invested two million dollars in the world’s first carbon offsetting scheme: an agriforest project to plant fifty-two million trees across the western highlands of Guatemala.3 These trees were intended to compensate for the carbon emissions of the company’s new coal-fired power plant, constructed that same year, over 3,000 miles to the north in Connecticut.4 However plausible this scheme may have seemed on paper, it was rife with problems, the most striking of which was that the project sequestered much less carbon than was originally modeled. The offset forest was predicted to draw down 11.5 million tons of carbon in the first five years of implementation, but, in reality, after ten years it had only removed a small fraction of that amount, about 270,000 tons, or approximately 2% of what was predicted.5 This poor performance was attributed to both the inaccuracy of the initial modeling and to the changing social and economic conditions in Guatemala in the following decades, which led the reforestation area to be reduced to less than half of what was initially planned.

Back in the United States, 1989 was also the year that George H. W. Bush was inaugurated as President and tried to make good on his campaign promise to halt wetland destruction. The resultant policy, “No Net Loss,” introduced the logic of offsetting to the Clean Water Act, stipulating that if a developer destroyed an acre of wetland, they had to restore an acre of wetland elsewhere. This project was also a failure. Wetlands have continued to be lost and, as the National Wildlife Federation wrote in 2008, the USA remains “nowhere near” the no-net-loss target.6 In the years since, protections for waterways have only been further dismantled.7

In 1990, the same Bush administration amended the Clean Air Act to include the first emissions-trading scheme for sulfur dioxide (SO2). Unlike the Guatemalan agriforest and the No Net Loss wetland policy, the SO2 scheme worked, and delivered on its goal. This hint of success drove the US to push for the inclusion of carbon emissions trading (or “flexible mechanisms”) in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and paved the way for emissions reductions to be achieved by allowing private actors to set up offsetting projects.8 This essentially established property rights for carbon flows and kicked off the global trade in carbon permits, both in national, government-regulated cap and trade schemes and in voluntary offset markets.9 An emitter could now pay someone else, somewhere else, to offset their emissions and claim to have met their targets.

In the nearly three decades since the Kyoto Protocol, emissions have increased exponentially. It’s clear that offsetting approaches have not worked to curb carbon emissions. This is partly because SO2 and CO2 are very different pollutants with very different qualities. Reducing sulfur emissions did not demand a complete overhaul of energy infrastructures, nor did it halt the ambitions of land developers and threaten powerful economic interests. In the years following the 1990 modifications to the Clean Air Act, many coal-fired power stations that had previously relied on coal with high sulfur levels switched to low-sulfur coal. This was partly due to unexpectedly low low-sulfur coal prices, which also suggests that the transition may have happened even without the incentive of offsetting.10 By contrast, shifting to carbon-free energy sources is a much bigger and more complex task that threatens infrastructural investments and entrenched interests. As journalist Chris Hayes pointed out in a prescient article in 2014, the shift to clean energy would require fossil fuel companies to leave $10 trillion in wealth on the table.11 Moreover, technologies for scrubbing SO2 out of fossil fuel emissions have been well developed and implemented, whereas the process is more difficult for CO2, as is evidenced by the raft of failed or underperforming carbon capture schemes around the world.12

And yet, the intoxicating allure of net zero remains irresistible for corporations and governments alike. In promising to reduce carbon emissions without systemic or economic change, net zero means emissions can continue forever, that burning can continue as long as someone else is paid to draw the carbon back out of the atmosphere.

Part 2: How to make a carbon offset

There are two distinct domains for carbon offsetting today: mandatory or “compliance” marketplaces that form part of regulatory schemes run by governments, which are the basis for reaching international climate commitments, and voluntary marketplaces, which are open to the public and not yet regulated by the UN or governmental bodies.13 At present, there are four major carbon registries housing almost all the world’s voluntary carbon offsets: American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Gold Standard, and Verra.14 These platforms record long lists of carbon offsetting projects, as well as of the different methodologies that underlie them. Methodologies are submitted to and approved by the registry, often by the owners of the projects themselves, and describe the procedure for measuring and calculating carbon avoidances or removals as a fixed quantity. Every offsetting project must prove that it is adhering to a methodology in order to gain entrance to a registry. But if the desired carbon offsetting scheme doesn’t fit into an existing methodology, a new one can be submitted for review.

Interface of the Offset Archive containing every project listed in the four major carbon registories. Visit the archive, .

To better understand the voluntary carbon finance landscape, we scraped the details of every project listed on the major offset registries and compiled them into a database, which at the time of writing totals 7,042 offset projects.15 Within this list, there are projects that are typically associated with carbon offsets like planting wetlands, preventing deforestation, capturing methane, and reducing the energy consumption of buildings. But there are also many surprises, like a project to wash jet engines, because it apparently makes them more efficient, and a project to feed cattle less gassy foods to reduce their methane production. There are also occasionally projects that appear to leverage a carbon offset methodology in order to create an additional revenue stream from an existing product.16 For example, between 2011–2021, the Swiss company Vestergaard (which makes LifeStraw water filters) earned 4,476,205 carbon credits on Verra’s registry through the “GS Methodology for Improved Cook stoves and Kitchen Regimes,” which they claim “reduces the demand for conventional water treatment through boiling water.”17 Under a program called “Carbon for Water,” the company sent surveys to a sample portion of the households throughout the Western Province in Kenya to determine how frequently they boiled water using biomass. This established their “baseline scenario”—the state of affairs before the offset scheme took effect. A LifeStraw water filter was then sent to 877,505 households and, a while later, another survey asking the same question: how frequently do you boil water using biomass? The responses to the surveys were then used to calculate the carbon benefit of the scheme and how many carbon credits the company could claim. In effect, this act of measuring—the survey data itself—becomes the carbon commodity.

In this way, Vestergaard is benefiting from a classic “make money online from surveys” scheme, with a twist. They are not paying Kenyans to do the surveys, but have found a way to transform flimsy survey data into a valuable commodity to be sold as an offset on a carbon marketplace. In effect, the scheme perpetuates a colonial form of wealth extraction that relies on enormous power disparities, in this case between a Swiss corporation and Kenyan citizens.

If measurements are the actual commodity, producing high-quality data is at the heart of all good offsetting schemes. To this end it is as important to determine a plausible “baseline scenario” as it is to measure the effect of the project, since it is the difference between these two numbers that produces value.

But establishing a baseline measurement can be a byzantine process, since some offset methodologies require data that simply does not exist. For example, an offset that seeks to financialize the regular washing of jet engines (VCS VM0013) relies on data about how much fuel a freshly washed jet engine burns versus a dirty jet engine. However, airlines only track fuel usage for entire fleets, not individual planes, so the offsetters must therefore rely on a model of fuel usage—an already abstracted but plausible enough product of data collection and statistical analysis.18 An offset is therefore a numerical estimate that rests atop layers of other numerical estimates.

Offsetting is ultimately a data-driven scheme. The centrality of data in how this process operates, and the fact that data itself becomes the commodity, means that the accuracy and methodology of how data is collected tends to be the focus of critique, often at the expense of analyzing other aspects or risks of a given project. For example, the LifeStraw scheme attracted criticism for improperly measuring how much Kenyans actually boil drinking water (the baseline scenario), but less so for the brittle, colonial structure of the scheme whereby a population is made dependent on a single European company’s product.19 What happens if the LifeStraw device breaks? Who pays for a replacement? What if the LifeStraw company ceases to exist? These fundamental questions are overshadowed by critiques pertaining to the accuracy of the project’s math. Incidentally, Kenya is one of the least polluting countries per-capita in the world, making the impact of carbon savings from LifeStraw negligible.

The abstraction of markets also produces new opportunities for double counting and corrupt compliance practices.20 Abstraction risks creating an alarming mismatch between what the financial products claim to represent and what is actually happening on the ground. In the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, this kind of mismatch crashed the global economy, but as we stare down irreversible tipping points in the climate crisis, the stakes are much higher.21 According to the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project, a research group that studies the effectiveness of carbon trading, “many, if not most, offset credits traded on the market today do not represent real emissions reductions. This failure squanders funds, good will, and precious time when real decarbonization could not be more urgent.”22 Sarah Bracking, a British geographer who argues that much climate finance operates as spectacle, claims it’s even worse: that deploying market logic to address the climate financializes people’s hope and expectations for action on climate. Instead, she claims, “we need to accept that largely fictional promises of money that ‘can change things’ are a phantasmagorical expression of meaning—a firewall that prevents real change.”23

Incidentally, the price of offsets isn’t currently determined by what it actually costs to do the work of avoiding or removing carbon emissions, like, for example, the way that city taxes cover the cost of street cleaning and garbage collection. Rather, the price is determined by market forces, or how much supply and demand exists for these credits. This means the price of carbon can significantly fluctuate, even if the cost of doing the urgent work of removals remains relatively fixed.

Part 3: How to measure everything

A carbon offset represents an action that’s been taken to reduce carbon dioxide in the air. However, not all actions that reduce carbon necessarily become carbon offsets. For example, if you plant a tree, the tree absorbs carbon. But the tree can only become a carbon offset if you measure how much carbon it has absorbed. Otherwise it’s just a tree. Measurability is a necessary precondition for offsets. Or, to put this another way, a carbon offset is a way of measuring something.

Offsets are fundamentally performative, creative endeavors: they demand ingenuity in data collection, quantification, and modeling. Through these acts of creative measurement, they conjure novel commodities out of thin air. Viewing the world through the lens of net zero not only spectacularly reduces everything to a single dimension—that of carbon fluxes and flows—but also more generally presupposes that these metabolisms can be measured, standardized, and ultimately made fungible.24 This view frames the cohort of other lifeforms with whom we share the planet as systems that provide ecosystem services. Trees serve as carbon pumps and wetlands as carbon stores. Environments are quantified and financialized based on their capacity to uptake the CO2 molecule.25 Offsetting renders kin as infrastructure.

Just as data production and monitoring reshapes the world by influencing what is paid attention to, what is managed, and ultimately where resources are sent, in a net zero world, what is accounted for and unaccounted for in the financialization of carbon is a crucial distinction with worldmaking ramifications. From the point of view of carbon uptake, a tract of plantation forest and a tract of ancient old growth forest are fungible and appear to do the same thing. And yet the old growth environment supports orders of magnitude more biodiversity than a newer monocultural landscape. Biodiversity isn’t counted when reducing environments to the single dimension of carbon dioxide because current accounting doesn’t incorporate the dimension of time: neither the time required to draw carbon out of the atmosphere, nor the time taken for the interconnections of beings and landscapes to emerge in biodiverse environments. These relations are critical to maintaining human livelihoods and yet they remain ignored if environments are seen only in terms of carbon exchange.

As the political economist Bram Büscher points out, rather than attributing any intrinsic value to environments, seeing them primarily as providers of measurable services is a way of extracting value from their conservation and providing a new means of accumulation.26 Offsets therefore transform environmental conservation into a business model for attempting to solve one of capitalism’s most intractable and intrinsic problems: how to achieve ongoing capital accumulation on a finite planet. Amidst arguments that offsetting is a vital way to bring investment to the conservation of biodiverse places around the world, it is worth recalling that the banner of conservation has long been used to mask violence, dispossession, and the control of indigenous communities who have long stewarded areas of rich biodiversity.27 Known as “conservation-via-dispossession,” the added financial incentive of carbon offsetting risks exacerbating these abuses, and there are already a raft of cases of Indigenous groups being coerced into offsetting agreements that commit them to change how they manage or inhabit their lands.28

A 2023 report from Survival International identifies these issues in the Northern Kenya Grassland Carbon Project, Project #1468 in the Verra registry.29 The project generated 3.2 million carbon credits between 2013 and 2016, most of which were sold in large blocks to corporations, including Netflix and Meta. But the project was predicated on changing how the area’s Indigenous pastoralists grazed their animals, replacing long-standing traditional grazing practices with “a collectivized, centrally controlled system more akin to commercial ranching.”30 At their heart, offsetting structures provide ways for wealthy corporations from the Global North to continue their operations, dodge emissions reductions, and push the burden of change and transformation onto the already-marginalized communities least responsible for the crisis.

Offsetting is a worldview that insists that problems created by capital accumulation can only be resolved by further capital accumulation. On a finite planet, the search for new forms of capital begins to resemble a hall of mirrors. A tree, for example, becomes a fractal, recursive commodity, with hidden dimensions of value waiting to be uncurled, like hypothetical extra dimensions of space and time. Offsetting is a product of last-stage, recursive, data-driven capitalism, and its brilliance is that it allows any human activity to be commodified by means of measurement, data collection, and computation. The need for high quality data, and the time-consuming difficulty in manually monitoring and measuring, inevitably incentivizes automated computational solutions—or, in other words, surveillance technology.

Imagine a world reformatted by net zero: every ton of concrete poured, every car trip made, every tree planted or removed, every meal consumed is quantified and translated to an amount of carbon that, in turn, is represented by a price. In this world, where everything is offsetable, all activities, and all landscapes, are also in some way surveilled. Many offsetting methodologies already make use of surveillance technology like machine learning,31 satellite imagery, drone photography, and Lidar sensors,32 as well as traditional security enforcement through armed patrols.33 Certain projects make surveillance an explicit activity, describing how they train law enforcement, or how “surveillance teams keep the area under rigorous monitoring to prevent illegal logging and squatters from claiming lands.”34 Surveillance tech is generally used to monitor conservation zones, both the borders of the zones and the people in and around them. And because so many offset projects involve intervening in and modifying human behavior, it’s not hard to imagine this being extended to households as well.

As geographer Holly Jean Buck writes, it is convenient for the tech industry that the pursuit of “net zero” is a massive computational challenge.35 Silicon Valley has already expended unimaginable resources to hone data collection and consumer surveillance pipelines (mostly to sell ads). It’s easy to imagine applying the same pipeline to create new carbon credit schemes. One such scheme already underway, listed on Gold Standard’s Impact Registry, seeks to convert “smart” water bottle usage into offsets.36 The project, titled “Distribution of smart water bottles to reduce plastic waste,” uses a water bottle with a sensor to log (on a blockchain no less) how much water a consumer drinks, then counts those portions of water as plastic bottle waste reductions. Mercifully, the project has not yet issued any carbon credits despite being listed in the registry.

A net zero future promises ever-expanding measurement and computation. The prospect raises crucial questions about the role big private tech corporations will play in resolving a crisis they helped to produce (if they desire to resolve it at all). What attempts will be made to leverage existing computational tools and data-driven logics? Any crisis is also, of course, a business opportunity. What new computational “solutions” will be devised and foisted upon the world? What future politics will these tools engender?

Part 4: How to make a carbon marketplace

It was a long run in, with a lot of weight. I had to climb over a lot of fences. I ended up getting to the top of the crane, which in hindsight was very lucky. I climbed off the edge and abseiled down to a position on the main arm of the crane. I was hanging out over where the ship was, and I was livestreaming on the Blockade Australia page, encouraging people to look at the actions that we were doing as an extended period of resistance. I hung on the crane for about six hours. A storm actually came in while I was up there so I got really wet and really cold, and then the cops got me down with another massive crane and I spent the next eighteen days in jail.

—Max Curmi37

Max Curmi is an Australian activist who, in 2021, along with others from Blockade Australia, successfully managed to shut down the biggest coal port in the world for approximately ten days. Politicians bitterly complained that the action delayed $60 million AUD (about $40 million USD) in coal exports from leaving the country. From a carbon quantification point of view, it produced a significant delay of emissions. This is something that carbon markets could potentially transform into a valuable commodity.

Through the lens of carbon, actions that prevent oil pipelines from being built or block coal exports from leaving port effectively avoid emissions or delay them from being released and produce the kinds of material fluxes that carbon registries have been designed to broker. Of course, due to their illegality, these actions are notably absent from carbon offset registries, despite the enormous savings they have produced.38 Existing carbon markets are of course not actually about carbon, but about something else—like public relations and the reinforcement of existing power hierarchies. The fact that the most efficient and direct carbon reduction activities are also the most illegal points to the incredible gap between our current legal systems (that originated in the Holocene) and the scope and pace of the climate catastrophe today. What would a justice system deem legal and illegal in the extreme risk and damage produced by carbon dioxide emissions? What would count as violence and nonviolence? Like so many existing institutions and processes, our legal frameworks are wildly misaligned with the risks we are living with in the Anthropocene.

To foster an appreciation for some of these oversights—what current carbon markets are not counting—we have built a more inclusive carbon registry. We have developed new methodologies for how political actions that contribute to a program of carbon savings and radical change can be counted, measured, and transformed into offsets. What if we were to take the proposal of net zero seriously and apply carbon accounting to a wider range of human activities?

Interface of the Offset Registry showing the list of case studies. Visit the registry, .

Our first carbon offsetting methodology, titled “Industrial Sabotage as Temporary Carbon Storage,” enables actions by groups like Blockade Australia, Water Protectors, and the Tyre Extinguishers to be analyzed with a carbon counting technique that was originally developed by the forestry industry.39 Called “temporary carbon storage,” this method provides a way of calculating the carbon benefit of delaying the release of emissions, like the harvest of a plantation forest.40 Although this approach has never before been used to calculate the benefits of production delays caused by activists who block fossil fuel infrastructures from producing emissions, we have rigorously undertaken this work, holding ourselves to the same standards as the offsetting industry. A marketplace for the resultant carbon credits is under development, where all proceeds will be donated back to support the groups responsible for these actions.

A second methodology further explores the carbon savings of sabotage and efforts to slow productivity. “Time Theft as Avoided Emissions” quantifies the carbon savings of immobilizing corporate executives working in the energy and extraction industries 41 We applied this approach in a new offsetting project titled Cold Call, in which participants are invited to work in a call center and make calls to distract the oil and gas executives from their jobs for as long as possible.42

To return to the words of Max Curmi, sabotage reveals a system functioning exactly as it is meant to:

[The system] is actually not broken. It’s performing exactly the way it was set up … For the climate movement to actually start to engage with this in an effective way we have to acknowledge the situation that we are currently facing. It’s not a couple of bad politicians or a couple of bad corporations, it’s an entire economic and legal framework that prevents change from happening and that locks in an extraction-based economy that is fundamentally about exploiting people and the environment for as much profit as possible for the rich.

Carbon credits soon to be available in our marketplace and with a special one-time offer to e-flux readers.


“What is Net Zero?,” National Grid. See .


“What is Net Zero?,” McKinsey & Company, November 28, 2022. See .


The artist duo Cooking Sections provides an excellent analysis of this history in their book Offsetted. Cooking Sections, Offsetted (Hatje Cantz, 2022).


Philip Shabecoff, “U.S. Utility Planting 52 Million Trees,” New York Times, October 12, 1988. See .


Hannah K. Wittman and Cynthia Caron, “Carbon Offsets and Inequality: Social Costs and Co-Benefits in Guatemala and Sri Lanka,” Society & Natural Resources 22, no. 8 (2009): 710-726.


Julie M. Sibbing, “Nowhere Near No-Net Loss,” National Wildlife Foundation. See .


Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, “After Supreme Court Forces Its Hand, E.P.A. Crubs Wetlands Protection, New York Times, August 29, 2023. See .


Aruna Chandrasekhar, “Timeline: The 60-year history of carbon offsets,” CarbonBrief, September 25, 2023. See .


Steffen Böhm and Sian Sullivan, eds., Negotiating Climate Change in Crisis (Open Book Publishers, 2021), xlvi.


Carl E. Zipper and Leonard Gilroy, “Sulfur Dioxide Emissions and Market Effects under the Clean Air Act Acid Rain Program,” Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 48, no. 9 (1998): 829-837.


Chris Hayes, “The New Abolitionism,” The Nation, April 22, 2014. See .


Adam Vaughan, “Most Major Carbon Capture and Storage Projects Haven’t Met Targets,” New Scientist, September 1, 2022. See .


Despite high hopes at the most recent COP28 meeting in 2023 for a regulated framework for carbon markets, an agreement on key rules for carbon trading could not be reached. Matteo Civillini, “Carbon Credits Talks Collapse at Cop28 Over Integrity Concerns,” Climate Change News, December 13, 2023. See .


American Carbon Registry, see ; Climate Action Reserve, see ; Gold Standard Impacy Registery, see ; Verra Registry, see


The Berkley Carbon Trading Project has done a good job in compiling these into a giant spreadsheet containing almost 8000 entries (as of May 2023).


Tesla is probably the most well known case of this. They earned $554 million from offsets in the third quarter of 2023, amounting to around 29% of their total net income. Jennifer L, “Tesla’s Record Carbon Credit Sales Up 94% Year-Over-Year,” Carbon, October 19, 2023. See .


Project number GS ID 886, on the Gold Standard registry, see .


William Welch et al., “Calculating Emission Reductions from Jet Engine Washing,” Verified Carbon Standard, VM 0013, Version 1, Sectoral Scope 3. See .


Kevin Starr, “Thirty Million Dollars, a Little Bit of Carbon, and a Lot of Hot Air,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June 16, 2011. See .


Joseph Winters, “Carbon offsets are ‘riddle with fraud.’ Can new voluntary guidelines fix that?,” Grist, August 2, 2023. See .


Tim Hwang, Subprime attention crisis: Advertising and the time bomb at the heart of the Internet (FSG originals, 2020).


“Berkeley Carbon Trading Project,” Berkeley Public Policy, The Goldman School. See .


Sarah Bracking, “Climate Finance and the Promise of Fake Solutions to Climate Change,” in Böhm and Sullivan, Negotiating Climate Change in Crisis, 255-276.


Desiree Foerster et al., “Whale Falls, Carbon Sinks: Aesthetics and the Anthropocene,” Anthropocene Curriculum, April 22, 2022. See .


Cooking Sections, Offsetted (Hatje Cantz, 2022).


Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher, “Accumulation by Conservation,” New Political Economy 20, no. 2 (2015): 273-298.


See Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, 2009).


Patrick Greenfield, “The ‘Carbon Pirates’ Preying on Amazon’s Indigenous Communities,” The Guardian, January 21, 2023. See .


Simon Counsell, “Blood Carbon: How a Carbon Offset Scheme Makes Millions from Indigenous Land in Northern Kenya,” Survival International, March 2023. See .


Counsell, “Blood Carbon.”


For a methodology using machine learning, see Project 3331, “Arva Carbon Ready USA” in the Verra Registry.


For methodologies using satellite imagery, drone based photography and LiDar, see Project 2551 “Brazilian Amazon APD Grouped Project,” Project 4042 “Cauaxi REDD+ Grouped Project,” or Project 3761 “Olive Groves for Carbon Farming” in the Verra registry.


For methodologies relying on patrols, see Project 1897 “Ntakata Mountains REDD,” Project 3811 “Chirisa REDD+ Project,” Project 3321 “Hongera Reforestation Project (Mt Kenya and Aberdares),” and Project 2395 “OKI REDD+ Project” in the Verra registry.


“Brazil: Protecting Forests from Illegal Logging,” Water Action Hub. See .


Holly Jean Buck, Ending Fossil Fuels: Why Net Zero Is Not Enough (New York: Verso Books, 2021), chapter 1.


GS ID 7563, “Distribution of Smart Water Bottles to Reduce Plastic Waste,” Gold Standard Impact Registry. See .


Interview with Max Curmi, July 22, 2022. Fragile States. See .


The Indigenous Action Network estimates that successful indigenous-led actions halting the development or expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures in the USA have prevented 779 million metric tons CO2 from being released into the atmosphere over the decade prior to 2019, equivalent to 12% of the USA and Canada’s annual pollution—a figure that dwarfs the emissions reductions achieved by “traditional” offsetting efforts. These actions include halting pipeline projects, like the Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline, the Energy East Oil Pipeline, and the Keystone XL pipeline, and halting fossil fuel extraction like the Tar Frontier Tar Sands Oil Mine or the opening up of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for mining. “Indigenous Resistance Against Carbon,” Indigenous Environmental Network August 2021), 12. See .


“Industrial Sabotage as Temporary Carbon Storage: A Methodology for Calculating Carbon Credits for Direct Action,” Version 0.1, January 28, 2023. See .


Freya Chay et al., “Unpacking ton-year accounting,” (carbon)plan, January 31, 2022. See .


Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, “Time Theft as Avoided Emissions.” See .


Tega Brain, “Cold Call (2023).” See .

Spatial Computing is a collaboration with the M.S. in Computational Design Practices Program (MSCDP) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University.

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Tega Brain is an Australian-born digital artist, environmental engineer, and assistant professor of Integrated Digital Media at New York University.

Sam Lavigne is an artist and educator based in New York.


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