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What is additionality in the voluntary carbon market?

By News

A carbon market without additionality is like a square-wheeled bike; a highly scalable concept, scuppered by a fundamental flaw. This term, speaking to the very heart of the voluntary carbon market, it is essential to understand.

Additionality refers to the extent to which carbon credits represent a reduction or avoidance of CO2e emissions from a project that would not have been possible without the carbon finance generated through credit sales. It is an absolutely central principle as – if credits are not additional – they cannot be used to offset a corresponding tonne of CO2e emitted by the buyer.

While we focus here upon the additionality of supply, we cannot forget another foundational basis of carbon markets. That is, that high-quality supply must always be accompanied by high integrity demand. Corporate buyers need to have credible net zero strategies and prioritise cutting emissions in their own value chains as a first step. Only then should carbon credits be used to compensate for any residual emissions released whilst companies continue to decarbonise.

If you are thinking of investing, make sure to read our guidance for embarking on a credible pathway to net zero and resources from the VCMI while you explore our flagship portfolio projects.

Why is additionality so important?

It almost goes without saying that to be effective, carbon credits must represent a genuine reduction or avoidance of emissions. That is, as outlined above, the first criteria of additionality. That’s not all; the underlying activity from which the carbon credit was produced cannot have taken place without carbon revenue. 

But why is this so important? Well, take for instance this example: A wind farm is developed in, say China, and is connected to the grid. This is normally taken as a good thing. For one, it means low carbon energy and secondly it releases considerably less emissions than a coal power plant. But due to the costs of renewable energy coming down in many countries, wind farms in places like China are now cost competitive with fossil fuel energy. This means they can get built just using revenues earned from electricity sales. In essence, this means that this wind farm would not require the subsidy from the sale of a carbon credit to get built. As the project would have occurred anyway, no ‘additional’ emissions prevented from entering the atmosphere for which a corresponding volume of carbon credits can be generated.

Indeed, if a project could facilitate emission reduction or avoidance without the revenue generated from carbon credits, then to what extent is their sale necessary? Yes, carbon funding could be directed to people and communities on the frontlines of climate change to drive investment in resilience-enhancing infrastructure. But under a non-additional scenario, a project is not delivering any climate benefits beyond what was achievable without carbon revenue. Therefore, any company purchasing and retiring credits from such a project could not make claims of positive environmental action in good faith. So while the financing of social projects is extremely necessary, it should be done through the sale of additional carbon credits, or via a different mechanism entirely.

The idea of additionality is essential for any company to understand, both in terms of the scale of decarbonisation required by 2030 to meet 2050 targets and to protect against the reputational damage caused if claims are revealed as greenwash.

How is additionality regulated?

With a culture of meticulous scrutiny surrounding corporate green claims, it’s hardly surprising that companies err on the side of caution when it comes to the voluntary carbon market. Indeed, coupling this reputational risk with the urgent need for sustained, large-scale decarbonisation, buyers naturally want to know that the credits they invest in correspond to a genuine reduction or avoidance of emissions. Thanks to significant labours from across the voluntary carbon market, there are now numerous regulatory bodies to whom business leaders can turn. 

An expanding pool of companies and organisations exist with the purpose of distinguishing between high- and low-quality carbon credits. You may have come across the phrase, ‘Verified emission reductions (VERs)’. This refers to a reduction in CO2e from a project that is independently verified against a third-party certification standard. This type of verification is increasingly expected and enforced by both buyers and suppliers.

Yet, determining additionality isn’t as simple as classifying a project as additional or not. Sylvera, for instance, consider additionality as a metric of risk rather than a state that is, or is not, achieved. In fact, framed as a scale, additionality is the factor weighted most heavily in the calculation of Sylvera’s ratings. 

Others debate whether additionality is purely determined financially. While for some the wind farm example given above would be a perfect illustration of the concept, some would say that such an approach to additionality does not take into account any other factors that could have prevented the project from operating. This is known as ‘common practice additionality’ and refers to a scenario in which a project is economically viable without the sale of carbon credits, but there are other social or political factors that make it infeasible.

With stringent additionality regulation, we can unlock the full potential offered by high-quality, carbon credits. Indeed, if projects are additional they can deliver verifiable, impactful co-benefits for biodiversity, communities and individual livelihoods.

What’s next for additionality? 

Constantly evolving and improving, the standards of additionality look set to continue to rise across the voluntary carbon market throughout 2023. The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) is working on guidance regarding the setting and enforcing of a definitive global threshold standards for high-quality carbon credits. Known as the Core Carbon Principles, it is set for launch in Q1 2023.

Yet whatever developments arrive, conducting your own due diligence remains of fundamental importance. So when considering the purchase of carbon credits, consider if the project would have been financially viable without the carbon finance, ask if it is common-place in the local area and investigate if regulation exists to enforce or incentivise the project. These questions should help you determine additionality and decide whether the emissions reductions could have taken place without carbon finance. 

 

High-quality credits can create impact immediately. Used wisely, they serve to compensate for currently unavoidable emissions along a company’s pathway to net-zero. We work to ensure that high-quality, additional, independently verified products are available in the market. To see our flagship portfolio projects, make sure to check out the rest of our website.

Carbon Credit

Respira’s response to recent articles on carbon credits

By News

We note the Guardian’s recent article criticising forest-protection (REDD+) carbon credits with concern. We encourage scrutiny of the market and the challenging of assumptions. However, we stand by Verra‘s response to this article.

REDD+ baselines are the subject of hugely complicated scientific debate – different scientists can interpret the same forest area in many different ways. And deforestation is incredibly hard to predict, it varies substantially from one area to another, and so each project needs to be looked at individually, which this research doesn’t do.

These technical debates are unhelpful for a market which continues to develop new and improved methods and tools to improve the way in which nature-based carbon credits are measured, verified and reported on. The voluntary carbon market is in the process of increasing standardisation and semi-regulation. We hope that the The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM)‘s Core Carbon Principals can put to bed debates about what ‘quality’ should look like. We also welcome the independent scrutiny from new carbon ratings agencies.

Deforestation is responsible for up to 15% of global GHG emissions. There is no pathway to 1.5 degrees unless it is addressed. Rewarding communities, landowners and governments for halting it is one of the best tools we have. We subject all the projects we onboard to additional due diligence beyond the certification and remain committed to supporting high quality forest conservation projects.

For further recommended reading, other useful responses on the science have been issued by Everland https://lnkd.in/ge-dQJ5P and Sylverahttps://lnkd.in/eEvXwGXU

greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon footprint? How corporates can counterbalance emissions

By News

It is likely you have felt a personal responsibility to reduce your carbon footprint. Perhaps you are avoiding flying? Or maybe you have cut down your meat consumption? However small, our environmental choices are all essential forms of climate adaptation. But while individual action is extremely valuable, we must also get corporates on board to drive widespread climate action.

The term ‘carbon footprint’ refers to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with a specific person, entity or organisation (1). For a company, activities spanning from the global shipment of goods to printing a sheet of A4 all contribute to its carbon footprint. Reducing emissions may seem like an impossible mountain to climb yet, encouragingly, recent years have marked a shift: many companies are on a mission to limit their carbon footprints. Reflecting on this transition, our CEO, Ana Haurie, said:

“Corporates are no longer just feeling the top-down pressure to incorporate sustainability strategies into their operations, but also now face substantial and sustained bottom-up social pressure, which has resulted in them taking real action on climate.”

In this fight against environmental change, words and pledges are not enough; corporates must actively take steps to counterbalance their carbon footprint if they are to create genuine, tangible benefits for both people and the planet. Here’s how they can do it.

Net zero: Now is the time

There is growing consensus that we must reach a state of net zero by 2050 following substantial actions to reduce and mitigate existing unavoidable emissions before 2030. At the global level, the IPCC provides a clear definition of net zero, stating that: ‘Emissions reach net zero when all greenhouse gases emitted from human activity are counteracted by greenhouse removals over a specified period’.  

To reach net zero by 2050, we need to have already cut global emissions by approximately 55% by 2030 and such reductions cannot be achieved without also tackling the nature loss crisis. The earth’s natural ecosystems absorb roughly half of all anthropogenic carbon emissions, yet extensive deforestation is undermining the capacity of nature to provide climate change mitigation. If the intrinsic value of nature were not enough reason to invest in its conservation, the reality is that without natural biodiversity, our climate change trajectory would be far worse. 

We are not yet close to counterbalancing our greenhouse gas emissions or to halting nature loss. At our current rate, temperature rise is set to reach 2.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. Exceeding the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris will likely initiate catastrophic positive feedback loops that once begun, will further increase global temperatures. Such threats including sea level rise, melting permafrost and more frequent, severe extreme weather events, underline the urgency with which we must act. Now is the time for corporate commitment net zero.

Counterbalance: The corporate responsibility

At a corporate level, net zero is less clear cut and can mean different things for different industries. However, for most companies, net zero is an end-state in which it has reduced its own internal – scope one and two – emissions and its product -scope three – emissions as much as possible.  

It’s clear we have no time to lose. We do not have the luxury to wait for new removal technologies still undergoing development. Instead, companies must deploy every tool currently at their disposal to achieve emission reduction goals. One resource already in our collective armouries are carbon credits. Representing either the permanent removal of a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere, or the avoidance of one tonne of CO2 being emitted, verified carbon credits are proven to be an effective way to finance the protection of natural ecosystems while also enabling companies to achieve ambitious climate goals.

For this, nature-based credits hold particularly great potential. These solutions work with nature to address the climate crisis through projects such as forest conservation, soil restoration and blue carbon initiatives which not only sequester carbon from the atmosphere, but simultaneously protect nature and biodiversity. 

When engaged with responsibly (more on this below), the voluntary carbon market is an effective tool for the acceleration of climate mitigation efforts. Let’s be clear, carbon credits form just one part of the climate solutions, but we see the scaling of the voluntary carbon credit market – and nature-based climate solutions in particular – as a prerequisite for a credible and ultimately successful journey to net zero.

How does this work in practice?

First of all, any company looking to work towards 2030 and 2050 targets should embark on a ‘pathway to net zero’. This refers to the plan a company must execute to reach the end-state of net zero emissions in a specified timeframe. Carbon credits must not be used in isolation, they need to be part of this transition pathway (see graph below). Typically, this involves a detailed account of how emission reductions will be achieved, accompanied by firm interim targets for when these reductions should be achieved. In fact, setting and meeting ambitious interim milestones could be said to be of greater importance for climate action than the end-goal of net zero. See Steps 1 and 2 on the graph below.

How to counterbalance your carbon footprint using high-quality carbon credits

Once a company has committed to a net zero pathway, it should start to cut emissions from across its value chain inline with the mitigation hierarchy. However, even after the hierarchy has been followed, it is likely that a company will still be producing some unavoidable emissions. Step 3 of the chart outlines the most appropriate action for counterbalancing hard-to-abate, residual emissions. In this scenario, purchasing a corresponding volume of avoidance credits can provide a practical, short-term solution. Generated from projects such as forest conservation or clean cooking, avoidance credits help finance climate solutions and reverse nature loss. While this is vital in the near term, these credits cannot be an end state because a tonne of emitted carbon has not been removed from the atmosphere; a separate tonne has been avoided.

Avoidance and removal

This is why a company should transition over time to increase its purchase of removal credits (i.e generated when carbon dioxide is sequestered from the atmosphere and stored either biologically in trees or soil, or geologically through direct air capture and storage). Throughout this process, a company should be continually reviewing emissions across its value chain to see if they can be cut further. 

As an impact-driven carbon finance company, our high-quality carbon credits allow corporations and financial institutions to mitigate their environmental impact while channelling private capital into predominantly nature-based climate solutions. Our flagship portfolio offers a balance of avoidance and removals projects which enable companies to follow a high-integrity pathway to net zero and counterbalance their carbon footprint. To learn more about our work and our portfolio, be sure to follow this link.

(1) https://www.britannica.com/science/carbon-footprint

Carbon Credits

The voluntary carbon market: A year in review

By News

The year has reached its finale and the curtain is soon to close. But before we can clap our hands in applause, it’s important to reflect on 2022.

It is widely agreed that we must achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This requires substantial action to be taken now to cut currently unavoidable emissions1. As we discussed in our 2022 White Paper, such a transition requires finance at scale yet there is currently a significant gap between what is delivered and what is necessary to reach net zero. However, there are solutions – the voluntary carbon market provides an effective tool to channel private capital to climate mitigation projects.

This fact is increasingly recognised by corporates around the globe. Indeed, at the start of the year, South Pole reported that voluntary carbon markets were experiencing a period of expansion – both in terms of demand and innovation. Having observed a rise in prices and a tightening of quality standards, the market trajectory was positive. Twelve months on, we have an opportunity to reflect. How has the year played out for the voluntary carbon market? And what successes can we celebrate as we move into 2023?

First, think global

The voluntary carbon market has been operating within a challenging global context this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a dire humanitarian crisis and threatened the energy security of much of Europe. This instability has exacerbated an already-precarious economic situation as we gradually re-establish ourselves after the covid-19 pandemic. For many, the world has been hard to navigate in 2022 and we continue to stand in solidarity with all those affected.

While this is likely to have some short term impacts for the voluntary carbon market, in the medium to long term the market is expected to be resilient to price declines2. As our CEO, Ana Haurie, writes for Carbon Pulse, ‘the climate has not changed’ and as a result, more and more corporates and financial institutions are making ambitious net zero pledges.

Our thoughts are also with the communities hit by catastrophic climate events this year. Pakistan battled an extreme and deadly flood; Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian – the most destructive since 1935 – and Europe saw temperatures soaring beyond 40 degrees in an intense summer heatwave. These are not ‘fluke’ events; their frequency has been increased by global climate change which yet again emphasises the severity of the environmental crisis we face.

It wasn’t only global events that reminded us of the pressing need for climate mitigation in 2022. The release of the third instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report also highlighted the urgency with which we must act3. Delivering a frank review of current mitigation efforts, the report stated that the window for securing a liveable future is rapidly closing. Presented with such unequivocal evidence, governments and corporations are waking up. This year has shown an increasing understanding that rapid decarbonisation is required without delay.

Rising need, rising prices

The need for corporate action is clear and never before has it been acknowledged so extensively. In its November report, the UN’s High Level Expert Group backed the voluntary carbon market, stating that:

High integrity carbon credits in voluntary markets should be used for beyond value chain mitigation.”

Furtherstill, following a historic 2021 in which market transactions exceeded $2 billion, Ecosystem Marketplace observed that the future of the voluntary carbon market has ‘never looked brighter’. It may well be right. The near quadrupling of value observed since 2020 presents an optimistic picture for upcoming demand4. South Pole attributed this rising demand to more companies investing in sustained, long-term carbon strategies in place of one-off credit purchases. Moreover, increasing value initiates a positive feedback loop in which rising credit prices enable more ambitious carbon projects to be developed. These projects in turn serve to drive prices higher.

Yet demand was not equal across all credit types in 2022. One of the largest surges was seen for credits generated from nature-based projects5, highlighting a growing recognition of the need for nature in our fight against climate change.

The need for nature

Nature was christened as the climate’s secret ally by WWF this year. Its report drew out aspects of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment to reveal exactly how critical conservation and restoration are for our collective futures. In the last 10 years, 54% of man-made emissions have been absorbed by land or ocean-based ecosystems6. Demonstrably slowing global warming, nature is vital to combat climate change and has huge potential to provide up to one third of the climate mitigation required by 20307.

To tap into this potential, conservation is vital. In June, Global Canopy reported that reaching net zero requires a complete halt on deforestation8 by 2025. Cutting trees not only reduces the capacity of forests to absorb carbon, but also releases additional emissions into the atmosphere. Unless this can be stopped, the report iterated that we cannot reach net zero by 2050.

The need for nature was also articulated by McKinsey in its report on blue carbon9. It discussed how coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass meadows are under intense pressure, but can act as highly effective carbon sinks. The report shared the established and emerging techniques for conserving and restoring these ecosystems as part of a wider climate mitigation strategy.

Both forests and blue carbon were discussed in the World Resources Institute’s 2022 report. It offered guidance on the responsible use of these nature-based solutions until 2040, warning that nature-based projects can only support the Paris Agreement if implemented with integrity. For project developers, this means respecting and advocating for the land rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities while conserving biodiversity. For buyers, this means reducing emissions across their own value chains before counterbalancing with nature-based credits10.

It’s all about quality and integrity

This year has seen a concerted effort made to drive quality and integrity across the voluntary carbon market. The ICVCM’s Draft Core Carbon Principles were released in draft form in July. Intended to provide quality assurance, the principles will assess credits based on additionality, methodology and permanence to determine if they exceed a minimum ‘high quality’ threshold. Moreover, the principles will work to ensure that credits align with the Paris Agreement, meaning that emission reductions cannot be claimed by multiple parties11.

In June, the VCMI published its Provisional Claims Code of Practice for non-state actors. It outlined the criteria for credible carbon use to meet net zero targets. The code detailed that companies must set science-based interim targets to reduce emissions before turning to the voluntary carbon market12. Furthermore, when credits are purchased, the code specifies that they must be high quality. It clarifies what constitutes high quality, stating that credits must be recognised by an independent verification body; have genuine measures in place to ensure permanence and, where relevant, be entirely compatible with human rights.

In the release of its new draft guidance, WBCSD recognised that identifying high quality can be a challenge for buyers, especially those new to the voluntary carbon market. Specifically focused on natural climate solutions, it is set to publish a buyer’s guide following feedback received this winter. Highly relevant to anyone seeking to purchase credits, the guide will outline methodologies, verification and existing standards13.

Yet whatever the methodology, one thing remains clear: the use of carbon credits must accompany a deep and sustained decarbonisation across corporate value chains if we are to keep 1.5 alive14. Indeed, on this path to net zero, the consensus is still to start with nature-based solutions as these projects are available now. Whatever technologies are approved going forward, it is vital that we prioritise the protection, management and restoration of our ecosystems on the pathway to net zero.

Step by step: Progress on Article 6

For many of us, the latter part of 2022 was defined for many by COP27. With Article 6 scheduled as a key point of discussion, stakeholders across the voluntary carbon market were highly invested in conference outcomes.

COP27 achieved clarification on the Clean Development Mechanism transition and, in a historic moment, the first international trade under Article 6.2 was authorised between Ghana and Switzerland15. However, the rules surrounding corresponding adjustments were not finalised. While it seems as if corresponding adjustments will not be necessary for voluntary transactions for the time being, the claims able to be made based on non-authorised credits are likely to change. Moreover, no specific agreement was reached on whether an authorisation of corresponding adjustments can be revoked.

However technical, it is undeniable that progress was made on Article 6 at COP27 but there is still more work to be done. We will be eagerly watching to see how countries will react to these developments throughout 2023.

Working with local communities

Throughout 2022, the world became increasingly aware that without championing the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), we are tackling the climate crisis with one hand tied behind our backs. The Forest Declaration Assessment stated that we will not achieve our nationally determined contributions set at Paris without the active involvement of IPLCs. Although the report found that IPLC lands sequester, on average, twice the volume of carbon as non-indigenous lands, it also warned government frameworks fall short of what is required to sufficiently make use of this potential16.

On this front, insecure land rights pose a significant barrier. Isack Bryson, Project Manager at Carbon Tanzania, recently covered this issue in an opinion piece for Newsweek. As a matter of priority, he called for land rights to be discussed at COP15, stating that land rights must be secured if we are to ‘protect forests and an indigenous way of life’. He cited carbon finance as a tool to make this happen, advocating that projects should actively engage people on the ground to raise awareness of the benefits this funding can bring. Indeed, throughout 2022, carbon finance has been increasingly recognised as a tool to channel funding in support of IPLCs and – as we move into 2023 – is a trend we would like to see continue.

 

ICROA

How are the UN Sustainable Development Goals supported by the voluntary carbon market?

By News

However you may feel about it, the phrase ‘sustainable development’ seems here to stay. The term refers to development that enables us to meet our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same (1). While this sounds highly logical, achieving a scenario of sustainable development requires commitment and effort from stakeholders across the globe.

Faced with grand societal, environmental and economic challenges, we need innovative new mechanisms to facilitate change. On this front, the voluntary carbon market can certainly deliver. While carbon finance in general has huge potential to fund climate change mitigation and adaptation, nature-based projects offer additional and wide-ranging benefits. Indeed, nature-based projects such as tropical forest conservation or mangrove restoration can simultaneously drive progress on social and biodiversity targets. As such, we draw on five examples from our flagship portfolio projects to illustrate the extensive co-benefits offered by high-integrity carbon projects that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

In 2015, the UN published its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2). At the core of this agenda are 17 interconnected goals that, when addressed, will collectively help to build a better world. These Sustainable Development Goals are adopted by all UN Member States and serve as guidance for governments, corporates, NGOs and individuals looking to tackle global challenges.

The goals are ambitious – fighting the root causes of issues faced by societies worldwide. Despite their division into 17 neat boxes, each goal interacts with the others. Without clean water and sanitation, achieving good health and well-being is far more difficult. And without climate action, future economic growth is highly unlikely. In this way, we must not view each Sustainable Development Goal in isolation.

 

Picture credit: The UN SDGs (3)

Voluntary Carbon Market for Sustainable Development

The voluntary carbon market offers great potential for addressing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In helping corporates to meet ambitious net zero targets, it is clear that the market works to drive climate action in line with Goal 13. Moreover, conservation and restoration projects – both on land and in the water – assist progress on Goals 14 and 15 through the protection of biodiverse habitats.

However, voluntary carbon markets can also fund progress on Sustainable Development Goals beyond climate and nature. Indeed, credits generated from high integrity nature-based projects support goals on gender, education, health and more.

For instance, projects operating with profit sharing schemes guarantee that local communities financially benefit from market transactions. Under these schemes, people working on the ground can use carbon finance to fund solutions to the specific challenges they face. Finance could be directed to youth education programmes or used to improve access to healthcare. The best carbon projects even create new employment opportunities for local communities – acting in support of Goals 8 and 10.

Some examples from our portfolio:

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

The Ntakata Mountains CCB Triple Gold certified project brings extensive co-benefits that support UN Sustainable Development Goal 3. Managed by Carbon Tanzania, the project has issued nearly 1 million tonnes of carbon credits through forest conservation and has generated over $730,000 of carbon revenue since December 2021.

Carbon Tanzania’s business model ensures that these profits are shared with the local community. In an effort to improve access to healthcare, the community decided to use this finance to develop a Community Health Fund. Through this scheme, nearly 26,000 people have had their medical expenses covered.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Many of our flagship portfolio projects increase employment opportunities, thus driving economic growth in line with Goal 8. One notable example is the Makame Savannah REDD+ project. Also based in Tanzania, the project has demarcated more than 360,000 hectares of dryland forest for sustainable management and conservation.

To ensure that this area remains protected, the project has employed local people are Village Game Scouts (VGS). With dedicated training, these people work to report poaching, monitor wildlife and ensure that trees are not felled. Moreover, the project works to defy gender stereotypes: women are also employed as VGS. As such, the project also supports a reduction of gender inequalities in line with Sustainable Development Goal 10.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Located in Paraguay, San Pedro Forestry is a fantastic example of a carbon project addressing Goal 13. As a reforestation project based on former agricultural land, it works to combat degradation and drive sustainable production. In a method known as silvopasture, commercial tree species are planted on land used to graze cattle. Not only does this enable local farmers to earn additional income through timber production, but the tree cover safeguards soil quality despite the land being used for grazing. As such, the project actively reduces atmospheric carbon levels as both the trees and the soil perform sequestration. The San Pedro Forestry Project proves that agriculture need not be a driver of climate change; instead it can form a key part of the solution.

Goal 14: Life below water

The world’s largest Blue Carbon Project, Delta Blue Carbon, operates from the Province of Sindh in the Southeastern part of Pakistan. The project conserves and restores 350,000 hectares of tidal rivers, low-lying islands and mangrove forests.

This cutting-edge project is hugely beneficial for people, nature and climate. From improving access to clean water to reducing poverty, the project addresses 12 of the 17 sustainable development goals. One example to highlight is Delta Blue Carbon’s work on Goal 14 – life below water. Healthy mangrove ecosystems also mean healthy fisheries because these trees provide nesting sites and breeding grounds for many species of fish and shellfish. Not only are these fish a food source for migratory birds, but also sustain the livelihoods of local fishing communities.

Goal 15: Life on land

Home to 300 species of birds and at least 49 species of large mammal, the Gola Rainforest of Sierra Leone is an extremely valuable biodiversity hot spot. However, the area is also at severe risk of deforestation. As trees are cut, it destroys the habitats of these precious species of plants and animals.

To combat this loss of biodiversity, our flagship portfolio project, Gola Rainforest Conservation works to protect over 70,000 hectares of this landscape. The project works with local communities to encourage sustainable land use planning as a means of reducing deforestation. Not only does this reduce the risk of extinction faced by many native endangered species, but increases the overall health of the ecosystem. As such, conserving biodiversity makes the entire Gola Rainforest more resilient against climate change.

What’s next for the Sustainable Development Goals?

While numerous initiatives are working to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there is still much more to be done. Indeed, the UN’s 2022 Sustainable Development Goal Progress Report discusses the varied and interlinking challenging that are putting future generations at risk (4). It highlights how the covid-19 pandemic – and the subsequent economic fallout – has reversed much of the progress made on some of the goals. It is therefore absolutely imperative that we step up efforts to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals and recover the ground lost during the pandemic. We must work together on these goals for they present the most urgent global challenges of the 21st century.

 

1 https://www.iisd.org/mission-and-goals/sustainable-development

2 https://sdgs.un.org/goals

3 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/communications-material/

4 https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/

 

Good COP, bad COP? Our takeaways for the voluntary carbon market

By News

What happens in Egypt certainly doesn’t stay in Egypt when it comes to COP27. Indeed, the decisions made at this UN climate conference have global implications. Taking on challenging topics of implementation, loss and damage and climate finance, the conference set an ambitious tone. With enough written on the conference to produce a series of novels, we will spare a discussion of the politics, the speeches and the controversies and focus instead upon the implications for the voluntary carbon market.

Now that the COP27 has come to an end, let’s revisit our hopes for COP27 to see what outcomes we can celebrate and which to commiserate as we continue along our pathways to net zero with renewed vigour.

What’s next for Article 6?

Article 6; Article 6; Article 6. It is with good reason that this has been discussed extensively by voluntary carbon market stakeholders throughout COP27. The article has serious implications for the future direction of the market.

Our Director of Corporate Client Relations, Eva Weightman, reported from Sharm El-Sheikh that discussions on Article 6 felt much more mainstream this year. There were a number of events taking place around COP to discuss how countries can use the mechanism going forward. While we wait for the policy analysts, lawyers and experts to make sense of what the latest text in the Article 6 Rulebook means for the VCM and while the finer details are finalised on how Article 6 will be used by countries to help them achieve their climate goals, we are not pausing our own efforts to provide the much-needed financial certainty to carbon reducing projects and the communities most affected by the effects of climate change. Watch this space for a more detailed update in a few weeks.

Carbon and communities

Throughout numerous events and panels, project developers emphasised the positive benefits that carbon credits can bring to local communities. Increased job opportunities, access to education and greater healthcare provision can all be funded via carbon finance1. Moreover, projects with more Indigenous involvement tend to achieve better results as these groups are the ones most connected to the natural world and who have long-established, effective conservation strategies.

This rise in discussion shows that stakeholders across the VCM are waking up to the need for projects to deliver additional co-benefits for communities. One recurring theme of talks were pre-payments. Under these schemes communities receive payment for carbon credits to be generated in the future, in order to fund the initial set up of the project.

Out of the woods?

For the first time ever, forests were included in the final text from COP272 which highlighted the Forest and Climate Leadership Partnership (FCLP). Co-chaired by the US and Ghana, 26 countries and the European Union have come together to work on this partnership to ‘halt forest loss and land degradation by 2030’. One strategy of the FCLP is to drive action and accountability for past forest pledges. To do so, the FCLP will identify key areas where existing solutions can be scaled, and new ones implemented. This will involve significant collaboration, both with the private sector and with community leaders.

The final text also spoke of nature-based solutions (NBS) as a tool for adapting to and mitigating against climate change. With mention of NBS rejected at COP26, it is a sign of shifting attitudes towards the voluntary carbon market that this inclusion was passed. However, the language surrounding NBS is not strong: the text merely ‘encourages’ the use of NBS3. While this is a step in the right direction, more work to drive integrity is required before a more assertive endorsement of NBS is likely to be made.

Hope: New African initiatives

While UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, Nigel Topping, expressed grave concern for the current state of climate action in his speech at COP27, he also found some reasons to be cheerful. Specially, he finds hope in the leading role that African countries are taking on the pathway to net zero. Citing a range of initiatives announced at the conference4, he stated:

We also see the Global South taking a lead, with launches here at COP27 of the Africa Just and Affordable Energy Transition Initiative, the Africa Food Systems Transformation Initiative, the Africa Net Zero Concrete Group, the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI), and momentum by the six African nations leading the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance to sustainably industrialise Africa – with plans that could add up to 12% to their current GDP.”

It was our hope that COP27 would further the cause of climate justice on the African continent so, like Nigel Topping, these announcements were causes for celebration at Respira. In particular, we feel optimistic following the launch of the ACMI and its accompanying Roadmap Report. Thirteen CEOs, leaders and carbon credit experts make up the steering committee of the ACMI. United in their ambition to significantly increase Africa’s participation in the VCM. In the report, a plan was outlined for creating a $1.5 billion-a-year VCM by 2050 as part of a plan to generate more jobs and finance across the continent.

Next stop: Dubai

The conclusion of COP27 is simultaneously a starting gun, sending us into what must be the most serious year for climate action to date. We have just one year to drastically ramp up environmental effort and implement the plans made this year before we meet again at COP28. Set to take place in Dubai it will mark the first global stocktake of climate progress since the Paris Agreement and therefore the next conference can act as an interim goalpost to which we can hold ourselves accountable for implementing climate strategies. The race is on, but we are determined and optimistic.

greenhouse gas emissions

COP27: Our hopes for climate, nature and the voluntary carbon market

By News

The 27th Conference of the Parties has arrived. Between the 6th and 18th of November, COP27 will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Building on the theme of ‘ambition’ that defined its predecessor, this conference will be focused upon ‘implementation’. With climate finance scheduled as a key point of discussion, it is only natural that stakeholders across the voluntary carbon market (VCM) are attentively waiting to see how this COP will impact the sector. Like many others, we have our hopes for COP27 and are looking forward to being at the conference to be part of some of the discussions. Here, we outline our ideal outcomes from the conference to ‘manifest’ the strong implementation strategies that we would like to see going forward.

The big picture

It’s safe to say that it is been a turbulent year since leaders gathered in Glasgow for COP26. The past year has seen some major climatic events. In June, catastrophic flooding began in Pakistan which has, so far, impacted a minimum of 33 million people[1]. By July, a record-breaking heatwave was sweeping parts of the northern hemisphere, causing wildfires and heat-related deaths[2]. These are just two examples, but they make it clear: it is no longer possible (or responsible) to ignore the climate crisis. These events, coupled with this year’s urgent message from the IPCC[3], should bring an unequivocable urgency to COP27.

Social and political challenges will also determine the direction of the conference. While the economic impacts of the pandemic still ricochet around the globe, Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine has sent further shockwaves of geopolitical uncertainty. The human cost of this conflict has been indescribable, and we stand in continued solidarity with all those affected. Simultaneously, rising energy prices will force millions more to make an impossible choice between heating or eating. Faced with such critical challenges, it almost goes without saying that energy security will be high on the agenda and will likely underpin every discussion held at the conference.

The small(er) picture

Having examined the wider setting within which the conference operates, we can delve into the specific context as it relates to the VCM. With significant pledges made, many agree that COP26 was positive for climate finance. We saw 30 financial institutions aiming to remove agriculturally driven deforestation from their portfolios by 2025[4] and witnessed many countries commit to increasing climate adaptation finance by 50% (admittedly compared only to 2019 levels[5]). Even so, more finance is urgently required.

While not expressly mentioned in the Paris Rulebook, the decisions made on Article 6 at COP26 had – and continue to have – significant implications for the VCM. This section of the Paris Agreement stipulates ways in which countries can transfer carbon credits earned from their own minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions to assist others in meeting their climate targets[6]. However, for Article 6 to be implemented with maximum effectiveness, there are further details which we would like to see fine-tuned at COP27.

Article 6: clarity and implementation

On Article 6, Parties seem much closer to an agreement – there are less brackets in the draft text – but a number of contentious issues still exist. These include the definitions of avoidance and removals, REDD+ and sovereign issuance, the authorisation of emissions reductions and corresponding adjustment.

Anyone involved in the voluntary carbon market will be particularly keen to see two key parts of Article 6 clarified. The first is Article 6.2, which addresses bilateral emissions reductions trading. The second is Article 6.4 that establishes a new crediting mechanism under UN-managed oversight. We hope that discussions at COP27 will finalise all the remaining questions if carbon credits are traded internationally. We also see the clarification of any exemptions and registration fees as key to success.

In line with the conference theme, we hope to see progress on the implementation of Article 6 at COP27. This could include talks on the Article 6 infrastructure, including the databases and reporting mechanisms[7].

Corresponding adjustments

A corresponding adjustment is a carbon accounting procedure articulated in Article 6 to facilitate the responsible issue of carbon credits. If emission reductions or removals are claimed twice (e.g. by the country that generated the credit and by the country which purchased it), it undermines climate action.

To combat this, corresponding adjustments ensure that any credit which is ‘exported’ from the country where it was generated is only counted by the buyer of that credit. This is done through an ‘authorisation’ of credits ready for export by host countries. However, there is currently a lack of standardisation on the processes for countries to issue corresponding adjustments. If a standard practise could be clarified at COP27, we would view it as a great success.

Moreover, the way in which companies engage with Article 6 and how the accounting rules are implemented is still an open question. Private companies are currently operating in an uncertainty whether the credits they have invested in will need the official country authorisation. The authorisation is entirely at the discretion of each individual country, and it would provide a much needed clarity for the private sector if countries indicated their intentions in advance.

Encouragingly, the IETA report that 80% of countries of who defined a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) are intending to make use of Article 6[8]. However, we hope to see a widespread commitment to corresponding adjustment accounting; a final decision on whether corresponding adjustment will be mandatory and if it will be applied to voluntary credits. But overall, we hope to see serious steps to implement measures leading to significant emission reduction, even without corresponding adjustment, as a temporary measure.

Emissions avoidance

COP26 did not see the language surrounding emissions avoidance finalised in Article 6. Currently, it is not clear if emission avoidance qualifies as a mitigation strategy. Indeed, the media platform, Devex are confident that there will be talks on whether avoided emissions will qualify for carbon credit generation under Article 6[9]. This is a topic which we would like to see straightened out over the next weeks.

Climate and nature in tandem

It has become almost cliché to say ‘the dual challenge of climate change and nature loss’. Although it may be nice to expand our vocabularies, we can’t escape the fact that this message rings true. At present, climate decision making is conducted separately to that of biodiversity (COP15 for nature will be held in Montreal this December). However, this may not be the most effective strategy. We recognise that net zero will only be achieved by 2050 if we protect and restore ecosystems globally. The trees, the soil and the oceans all sequester carbon at scale. As such, protecting nature brings huge potential for climate change mitigation, while simultaneously benefitting biodiversity. This is why we hope to see more collaboration between COPs to enable more knowledge, finance and expertise to be shared[10].

Hopes for Africa

With many of our flagship portfolio projects based in African countries, we are particularly invested in what COP27 will mean for the continent. This is only the fifth COP ever to be held in Africa[11] so we are interested to see how it will impact national and regional progress on climate action. The meaning of a successful COP27 varies by region, however one thread of commonality ties them together – the need for climate justice. This approach recognises that without social resilience, environmental protection is not possible[12].

Driving action on climate justice requires large-scale, immediate funding[13]. Therefore, it is our overarching hope for COP27 that leaders in the Global North and private corporations agree to drastically increase the finance available for climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. With an abundance of tropical forests, Africa can be a world leader of these natural climate solutions, but such a transition needs the financial assistance of the biggest emitters. We are optimistic that this support can be galvanised at COP27 and demonstrate that, despite political challenges, climate action can prevail.

[1] https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/devastating-floods-pakistan-2022#:~:text=Around%2033%20million%20people%2C%20including,devastating%20rains%2C%20floods%20and%20landslides.

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukhsa-and-ons-release-estimates-of-excess-deaths-during-summer-of-2022#:~:text=The%20heat%2Dperiod%20in%20the,over%20the%20age%20of%2065.

[3] https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/

[4] https://tfaperspectives.turtl.co/story/tfa-perspectives-volume-2/page/5/1?utm_source=social&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=ISSUE2_LAUNCHDAY_REPORTCOVER

[5] https://www.wri.org/insights/cop26-climate-pledges-tracking-progress#:~:text=This%20included%20pledges%20to%20set,just%20to%20name%20a%20few.

[6] https://www.devex.com/news/devexplains-what-s-next-for-global-carbon-credit-markets-104171

[7] https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/market-insights/latest-news/energy-transition/102722-cop27-may-not-focus-on-corresponding-adjustments-avoidance-carbon-credits-australian-official

[8] https://mcusercontent.com/a56b93cff5b695d2a902de8d0/files/72816d4a-47f6-f223-2580-35bbbdee1add/IETA_Pre_COP27_Briefing.01.pdf

[9] https://www.devex.com/news/devexplains-what-s-next-for-global-carbon-credit-markets-104171

[10] https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/cop-climate-change-conference/cop27?_cldee=K0y3iYY5lH7PqF-t-Ib0czyGhO8zhZKVCOeG5jy17T0hYtI9ICKVHam0BaoCZhI8&recipientid=contact-0f0b8a12f5b3ec11983f6045bd0f09b8-505ab0dedbee497ca80a5f7a48a950fc&esid=e2f4f45b-5b54-ed11-9562-002248428f84

[11] https://unfccc.int/process/bodies/supreme-bodies/conference-of-the-parties-cop

[12] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/10/three-steps-to-africa-s-cop-succeeding-for-africans/

[13] https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/cop-climate-change-conference/cop27?_cldee=K0y3iYY5lH7PqF-t-Ib0czyGhO8zhZKVCOeG5jy17T0hYtI9ICKVHam0BaoCZhI8&recipientid=contact-0f0b8a12f5b3ec11983f6045bd0f09b8-505ab0dedbee497ca80a5f7a48a950fc&esid=e2f4f45b-5b54-ed11-9562-002248428f84

blue carbon project

PRESS RELEASE: Climate Impact X and Respira’s landmark auction for blue carbon credits oversubscribed with global demand

By News

PRESS RELEASE

  • 250,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits from the world’s largest mangrove restoration project sold at USD $27.80 per tonne
  • 30 per cent of volume bid at $35.00 per tonne and above, signalling the premium for Respira’s high-quality and unique ‘blue carbon’ credit type with new 2021 vintage
  • Powered by CIX’s platform which enables flexible, customisable auctions with high price transparency for opaque new carbon markets

Singapore and London, 4 November 2022 Climate Impact X (CIX), a global marketplace and exchange for quality environmental credits, and Respira International, an impact-driven carbon finance business, have completed a landmark auction for high-quality nature-based blue carbon credits. The auction successfully sold 250,000 tonnes of vintage 2021 carbon credits from the Delta Blue Carbon Project in Pakistan, the world’s largest mangrove restoration project, at USD $27.80 per tonne. This is $10.00 per tonne, or close to 40 per cent premium to current spot prices for major REDD+ nature-based solutions of the same credit vintage.

To facilitate price transparency in carbon markets, CIX is publishing the auction demand curve which showcases the range of bid prices submitted. 30 per cent of the bid volume was priced at $35.00 per tonne or more, 27 per cent above the auction reserve price ($27.50 per tonne), signalling the premium at which some buyers were willing to pay for high-quality and unique credit types.

Drawing many buyers from around the world, concentrated in Asia, Europe and the United States, the success of the auction demonstrates strong international demand for quality carbon credits given rising corporate net-zero commitments and in the run up to the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27). Despite a backdrop of high inflation and global macro uncertainty weighing on the whole carbon market, this represents a strong signal of support for premium credits of high integrity.

“CIX’s core priority is to build trust and transparency in the carbon markets to unlock liquidity, and one of the ways we seek to do this is through the discovery of clear demand and price signals. This auction offers reassurance to the market that demand for quality carbon credits remains robust. We are proud to work with partners like Respira to deliver landmark auctions, and together help to scale the next wave of impactful carbon sequestration solutions,” said Mikkel Larsen, CEO of CIX.

“Our long-term offtake agreements with project developers offer them revenue certainty whilst our profit sharing mechanism ensures they share the upside as demand and prices grow. We strive for higher prices for high-quality carbon credits in the market so as to channel private capital into these much-needed climate solutions, and are delighted to see such a strong demand signal. CIX’s focus on telling the suppliers’ story and showcasing the good work of project developers makes them an ideal partner to catalyse finance for these solutions,” said Ana Haurie, Co-founder and CEO of Respira.

Mangroves are some of the most effective natural carbon sinks on earth, with the ability to store up to five times more carbon than upland tropical forests.[i] The Delta Blue Carbon Project is protecting and restoring 350,000 hectares of tidal river channels and creeks, low-lying sandy islands, mangrove forests and inter-tidal areas along the southeast coast of Sindh in Pakistan. Over its lifetime, the project is expected to sequester around 142 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. It will also drive broader biodiversity and socio-economic impacts, which includes benefiting more than 42,000 people in local communities.

“I am delighted that all our hard work to establish the world’s largest blue carbon project is paying off.  The sale of the first delivered credits from the Delta Blue Carbon-1 project will secure the project’s long-term future and will allow my team to significantly scale up activities and further deliver on our plans. The funds will be channelled directly into on-the-ground activities as we strive to deliver environmental and climate benefits at scale – as well as improve the well-being and livelihoods of our local communities. Projects such as Delta Blue Carbon-1 require large-scale financing. Private sector investment through the carbon market is unlocking this new frontier in conservation,” said Nadeem Khan, Founder of Indus Delta Capital, project developer of the Delta Blue Carbon Project.

CIX Auctions is a specialised digital venue for discovering prices of unique credit types, newly issued credits and customised portfolios of projects through the efficient aggregation of market supply and demand. CIX’s signature platform enables flexible, customisable auctions that support price discovery and builds up end-user demand, both of which are needed to scale carbon markets.

– Ends –

 

NOTE TO EDITORS:

  • The auction was structured to allow successful participants to be awarded a common final settlement price, which is the lowest price of all allocated bids that collectively cleared the volume on offer; and designed to maximise distribution to build up a wide base of high integrity buyers.

 

About Climate Impact X

Jointly established by DBS Bank, Singapore Exchange (SGX Group), Standard Chartered and Temasek, Climate Impact X (CIX) is a global marketplace and exchange for quality environmental credits based in Singapore. CIX is helping to scale the next wave of impactful carbon sequestration solutions through a suite of trading venues underpinned by trust. The CIX Project Marketplace offers quality credits that can meet corporate sustainability objectives. CIX Auctions is a specialised digital venue for discovering prices of unique credit types, newly issued credits and customised portfolios of projects through the efficient aggregation of market supply and demand. CIX Spot Exchange will enable two-way trading of quality credits and standardised contracts, concentrating liquidity and providing the market with clearer price transparency and risk management solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn.

 

About Respira International

Respira International is an impact-driven carbon finance business. Respira operates with an innovative offtake and profit share model which reinvests back into local communities. Respira’s high-quality carbon credits allow corporations and financial institutions to mitigate their environmental impact. Respira channels private capital into climate solutions, ensuring long-term relationships with trusted carbon project developers that enable its clients to use predominantly nature-based solutions to build sustainable, climate positive businesses and portfolios. Respira’s team combines a deep and varied experience working in global financial markets with a robust understanding of carbon project development in leading international conservation organisations.

 

[i] Future Mangrove Carbon Storage Under Climate Change and Deforestation (2022). Source: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.781876

Compliance and voluntary carbon markets: What is the difference?

By News

There is a broad and growing consensus that we must take substantial action to reduce and mitigate existing unavoidable emissions before 2030. Only with rapid decarbonisation can we limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. There are two markets that aid us in reducing our emissions footprints: the compliance and the voluntary carbon market. While both markets serve to reduce overall emissions, they operate in distinctively differing manners.

 

Compliance carbon markets

 Government-regulated compliance carbon markets are created and overseen by mandatory national, regional, or jurisdictional carbon reduction regimes. It is not optional- every facility or company covered is obliged to take part in the market. Usually operating in the form of a cap-and-trade system, installations or bodies must hold or purchase enough credits to cover their emissions. The compliance carbon market imposes a gradually declining cap which serves to gradually reduce a companies’ total emissions over time.

 

Voluntary carbon markets

The voluntary carbon market, on the other hand, functions entirely separately from compliance markets. As its name suggests, this market enables companies and individuals to purchase carbon credits on a voluntary basis. The process of the voluntary carbon market also differs to that of the compliance carbon market: the basis here is that one entity (e.g. a company) pays another (e.g. a carbon project) for the removal or avoidance of emissions. Such actions by carbon projects can include forest conservation, soil restoration or blue carbon initiatives such as the planting of mangroves.

The work of a carbon project generates carbon credits, each representing one metric tonne of removed or avoided CO2. Credits can also be generated from the avoidance or removal of other greenhouse gases such as methane, which is represented as CO2e. Independently verified, these credits are purchased by companies, individuals or governments who are voluntarily choosing to counterbalance their emissions footprint.

 

Blurred boundaries

While the compliance carbon market and the voluntary carbon market evolved separately and serve different purposes, there is still a blurring of boundaries between them. Indeed, a few compliance markets in California, Mexico and South Africa currently accept a set, small percentage of voluntary carbon credits as a means of complying with carbon tax obligations.

Historically more compliance markets had voluntary credits, but overtime some specific concerns drove several compliance carbon markets away from voluntary credits. Based on this trend, some experts predict that we will not see any future merging between the two markets. However, opinions are divided. Other experts in the field believe that the two markets can inform each other in terms of best practise and that they may merge closer together in the coming years.

 

The two markets and Article 6

With more countries looking to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), 2022 saw some key developments for carbon markets. Perhaps most notably were the discussions held at COP26 in Glasgow on Article 6. These gave rise to the possibility of more carbon markets and trading activities globally.

Article 6 was established under the Paris Agreement and refers to a set of rules for countries looking to employ market-based mechanisms or cross-border collaboration to achieve their NDCs. This Article proposed two market mechanisms. The first, 6.2, governs country-to-country trading rules, while the second, 6.4, sets global carbon credit mechanisms in which countries, international bodies, companies, and individuals can all take part.

It is essential that emission reductions or removals are not claimed twice (eg. by the country that generated the credit and by the country which purchased it). Such errors are known as double counting and seriously undermine global climate ambition. Therefore, in both mechanisms a corresponding adjustment can be applied to ensure that credits are issued responsibly. A corresponding adjustment is a carbon accounting procedure in which a credit that is ‘exported’ from the country where it was generated is only counted by a buyer of that credit. This is done through ‘authorisation’ of credits ready for export by host countries.

Never-the-less, how companies engage with Article 6 and these accounting rules is still an open question. Although a company may choose to buy ‘authorised’ credits, it is not obliged to do so. At present, it is up to individual countries and companies on how they engage with Article 6 and the rules of the markets. However, major registries such as Verra and Gold Standard are looking at offering Article 6-compliance credits to market to drive greater high quality supply.

 

A look to the future

Trading nearly 300mt of CO2e in 2021[1], the voluntary carbon market is still tiny compared to compliance carbon markets which covered 12gt globally. However, the voluntary carbon market has grown massively in recent years and has huge potential to scale. Indeed, a high-integrity voluntary carbon market could mobilise, at speed and scale, billions of dollars a year in additional climate finance. These carbon projects can remove or reduce emissions from the environment while also bringing benefits for communities and ecosystems.

Many experts agree that more linkages to compliance carbon markets are possible, but assurances of integrity are key for its success. Only with quality and integrity across both markets can we work towards our climate targets while simultaneously addressing our nature and sustainable development goals.

 

 

[1] https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/market-insights/latest-news/energy-transition/111121-cop26-voluntary-carbon-market-value-tops-1-bil-in-2021-ecosystem-marketplace

PRESS RELEASE: Soil carbon project creates new income streams for post-Brexit farming

By News

Press release: 31st October 2022

  • Respira International, the impact driven carbon finance company, is delighted to announce that it has signed a pioneering agreement with Philipson Estates (owner of Blaston Farm) for the offtake of soil carbon certificates.
  • Creating a new business model for UK Farming – Blaston Farm is selling carbon certificates by directly measuring soil organic carbon gains, validating regenerative agriculture practices and providing a pathway for British farmers to profitably transition to be climate positive.
  • It is the first UK Project to generate certificates based on measured high density direct soil sampling, verified by ecometric, under its soil organic carbon MRV system.
  • The agreement follows Defra’s recent decision to pay £40 per hectare under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (“SFI”) scheme to improve soil health.

Demand for UK carbon soil certificates is expected to be strong. One of the first companies to buy certificates generated by Blaston is DASH, the British ‘wonky fruit’ infused sparkling water brand, attracted by the UK provenance of the certificates. The value of the certificates and the SFI payment together ensure that regenerative agriculture practices are economically viable and at Blaston sales of carbon certificates will become the second largest income on the farm after wheat.

We need nature-based solutions which include better land management practices such as soil carbon gains, to provide 30% or more of the mitigation required by 2030 in order to keep our global climate goals in reach. The Project, advised by independent agronomy consultants Indigro Ltd, land agents Fisher German and legal advice from Womble Bond Dickinson, covers an initial area of 230 hectares and benefitted from regenerative agricultural practices sequestrating 5,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, net of emissions, in 2020/21.

 

 

Respira International (“Respira”) is pleased to announce that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Philipson Estates, owner of Blaston Farm near Market Harborough, Leicestershire for the purchase of voluntary carbon certificates generated through sequestration on arable farmland.

Respira has committed to support Blaston by purchasing the carbon certificates for the current and upcoming production cycles. The sale of these certificates into the voluntary carbon market offers the potential for UK corporates to compensate for their ongoing emissions by funding domestic sequestration, with the assurance that comes with the independent high integrity sampling method. This income stream is essential to stimulating the wider adoption of similar regenerative practices across other farms in the UK.

Respira International’s co-founder and CEO Ana Haurie said: “The greatest medium to long term risk to local food production is from climate change and other environmental pressures. Soil degradation, erosion, and compaction are estimated to cost about £1.2 billion each year in the UK – in addition to which they reduce the UK’s capacity to produce food. By establishing a financial incentive to encourage measured positive environmental outcomes, the private sector can support the much needed transition. To that end, we are seeing strong demand from corporate buyers to support this, and similar, initiatives.”

Hylton Murray-Philipson of Philipson Estates said: “This really is a win-win transaction. It’s good for the soil; good for biodiversity and good for the planet. Sales of carbon certificates will produce more revenue than we traditionally received from Brussels and will enable Blaston to be financially and environmentally sustainable going forward. I hope that this transaction will encourage farmers up and down the country to adopt regenerative practices to restore life to the soil, enhance profitability and make a decisive contribution to achieving net zero.”

ecometric CEO David Wright said: “ecometric’s unique soil organic carbon [SOC] monitoring system has been developed for farmers, estate managers, agronomists, food manufacturers and retailers – and the carbon markets. Combining direct soil measurement with AI imagery analytics significantly increases accuracy and scalability compared with traditional systems. Land managers can now actively contribute to climate change mitigation through regenerative soil management evidenced carbon stock changes. We are pleased to work with Blaston and Respira to deliver a template for identify and monetising SOC surpluses.”

Co-Founder of DASH, Jack Scott said: “Our certificates from Blaston are a key part of ensuring DASH fully compensates for its emissions footprint and remains so. We have been to Blaston, we know the team and the land and we are delighted to support  a British farm doing great things for the environment. ”

Parliamentary Under-Secretary at DEFRA, Lord Benyon said: “I was briefed on the work at Blaston when I had responsibility for green finance and I am thrilled to see it coming together. This is a trailblazer for similar schemes rewarding farmers for doing the right things for food, for carbon and for biodiversity.”

Background

Farmer Hylton Murray-Philipson set his business the goal of improving soil health by diversifying cropping and farming with nature, to enhance the farm’s sustainability and turn it into a net sequesterer of carbon, whilst at the same time producing healthy, nutritious food.

This comes amidst the challenging context for conventional farming with undiversified crop rotations resulting in loss of soil organic matter, plateauing yields, an over reliance on sprays and artificial fertilisers, and the loss of EU support under the Basic Payment Scheme ( BPS ).

The Blaston Approach

Blaston have adopted regenerative principles with the support and advice of Indigro. The starting point for the estate was to focus on Minimal Soil Disturbance. Heavy cultivations and ploughing have led to a reduction in soil organic matter and ultimately a release of carbon.  Direct drilling was introduced at Blaston after the first cover crop was established. All arable crops are now direct drilled leading to a reduction in emissions; reduced soil erosion; and an increase in soil health and organic matter.

The second principle is Permanent Soil Cover. Soil left exposed to the elements will erode, and potential plant nutrients leach into watercourses. Permanently covering the soil using a range of species allows the soil to be protected and helps the build-up of soil organic matter. The cover not only protects the soil, reducing CO₂ emissions but the cover crop also draws down carbon from the atmosphere.

Blaston introduced cover crops and catch crops. Catch crops allow green cover harvesting sunlight between harvest and autumn drilling. Companion crops and permanent understories including white clover reduce insecticide and herbicide use, improve soil health and rooting and fix nitrogen that can be utilised by the main (cash) crop.

The third principle is Diverse Crop Rotations and Interactions. Nature is naturally diverse and regenerative agriculture encourages this. Blaston re-introduced livestock-grazing and rotational grasses in the arable rotation. The livestock improve soil biology whilst the grasses encourage soil health and reduce weed burden.

The Results

ecometric carried out detailed soil analysis across all fields in the project area prior to the start of the 2021 growing season, and then repeated the measurement a year later in order to quantify the precise amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the project over the production cycle. The results were further cross-checked using ecometric’s satellite imagery AI analytics. Total farm emissions including permanent pasture and animal production were then subtracted from the carbon gain to ensure the farm is climate positive and a net sequesterer of carbon. This equated to over 5,000 tons of carbon for the 21-22 period.

ENDS

[1] https://quota.media/soil-degradation-costs-the-uk-1-2-billion-each-year/