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Climate Change

Kana in Action: How Andy Creak is scaling investment in nature-based solution

By Tech in Action

Andy Creak is a keen cyclist. Such was his love of riding through London, that he was inspired to launch Hedkayse – a cycle helmet company in 2013. But this was not the end. Cycling continued to lead Andy to unexpected places. When he decided to reduce emissions throughout his Hedkayse’s supply chain, Andy learned more about carbon markets. In his search for UK-based carbon projects, he realised something was missing. There was no central hub where he could find information on project developers and their credentials. Spying an opportunity for climate action, Andy’s idea for Kana was born.

Can you introduce yourself and explain why you founded Kana?

The idea for Kana was born when I decided to make my cycle helmet business carbon neutral. We calculated our emissions, reduced where we could, and the final step was to counterbalance our residual emissions with carbon credits. 

As a British business with a UK-based manufacturing facility, we wanted to invest in nature close to home. However, I soon realised how difficult this would be. Not only was it a challenge to find UK-based carbon credits for sale, but that there was no central place to source information about the carbon projects, the developers or their credentials.

After an arduous search, I found myself on a hill in the north of Scotland. Here, I met with a peatland project developer, examined their site and discussed the potential impacts of my investment. I found this experience was invaluable, but the effort to get there got me thinking – I was sure there must be an easier way.

Throughout my search, I naturally learned more about carbon markets. Having founded multiple technology businesses in the asset management sector, I began to see parallels between carbon markets and the financial markets with which I was familiar. Soon, I saw a massive opportunity – a new, green asset class that could help the planet and deliver sustainable returns.

Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?

The UN Environment Programme estimates that, by 2050, we must invest $8.1 trillion in nature if we are to tackle the interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation. A substantial percentage of this capital must come from the private sector, but right now the infrastructure and assurances are not in place to facilitate such large-scale investment.

At Kana, we conducted more than 150 workshops with market stakeholders to tap into their knowledge and insights. From these conversations, it became clear that nature markets are held back by multiple barriers, ranging from outdated systems to a serious, systemic lack of funding.

Although I became aware of parties creating scientific frameworks for natural capital or focused on market intelligence, I realised something was absent from the UK market. To scale, the UK market needed a platform to improve supply and streamline the demand, in essence bringing both sides of the equation together.

Enter Kana. Since 2021, we have made natural capital an accessible, efficient asset class and facilitated private investment in nature. Our purpose is to increase investment in nature’s recovery and would like to see natural capital become a staple asset class in every ESG and impact fund portfolio.

Let’s get technical: How does your product work?

To create the infrastructure to scale investment into nature-based solutions we have broken our product down into two parts: Kana Hub and Kana Seed. Kana Hub caters to the supply-side of the market while Kana Seed will serve the demand.

Kana Hub: Improving the supply of high-quality carbon and biodiversity projects

Kana Hub is a platform for project developers, landowners, validation and verification bodies (VVBs) and codes. Within Kana Hub, users can manage their work and collaborate on the project development lifecycle. Here, processes that were traditionally completed in endless email chains and complex spreadsheets are fully-digitised. Because this massively improves efficiency and reduces overheads, it means more projects can get off the ground quicker. 

What’s more, Kana Hub makes a project’s life cycle fully-auditable, offering buyers greater assurance of quality and integrity. We have also built a directory which invites project developers and landowners to publicly showcase the quality and integrity of their schemes. This window into the market will make it easier for buyers to find projects, while giving them a snapshot of the real-life impact their investment can make.

Kana Seed: Streamlining and facilitating demand

Kana Seed is a tool for asset managers, businesses and sustainability consultancies. With our product, they can gain advanced oversight of their natural capital portfolios and manage their projects and investments. Whether developing their own project or investing in one already in existence, our platform will allow users to track the performance of their assets over time, analyse risk and trade units with advanced modelling and targets.

Kana Seed will have exclusive access to the auditable project data on Kana Hub. This symbiotic relationship between Seed and Hub will help rapidly accelerate capital flows to nature-based solutions.

Could you share a story of success?

Since we launched Kana Hub one year ago, we have onboarded 44 percent of woodland and peatland carbon projects in the UK. Today, of our 2,251 projects, 997 are in the categories of UK-based woodland and peatland.

We are proud to have worked with top project developers to tailor our product and build new functionality to improve our Kana’s efficiency. For instance, we recently launched a new function allowing users to carry out on-platform project activities. This means that project validations, verifications, loss events or disputes can now be completed digitally on Kana Hub. All compliance documentation can be generated at the click of a button. 

Although some of these processes only take place every 5 to 10 years, they can use huge amounts of resources to complete and take months to complete. Since we launched this new function, project developers have started at least 20 project activities on Kana Hub.

And finally, what’s next for Kana?

For the last year and a half, we’ve been working on Kana Hub and improving the supply of carbon and biodiversity projects. Since launching to market we’ve had great traction and are proud to be continuously onboarding new projects. Now, we’re kicking off initiatives to drive traffic to the public project directory and to put the UK natural capital market on the map.

 In terms of our product, we’re well into the process of building Kana Seed and have already developed the baseline functionality that will form the foundation of the platform. We’re currently working alongside a number of pioneering asset managers to build out their requirements and enable them to launch natural capital funds. This will be ready by the end of Q1 2024. Within a rapidly evolving market landscape, our business is accelerating. We’re excited to see what the next year holds.

Disclaimer: Respira International does not have any undisclosed affiliation with Kana. Read more about Kana here.

Cecil in Action: Why Rory Oxenham backs data-driven nature markets

By Tech in Action

It was 2019 and Australia was burning. As fire claimed the lives of people and animals, Rory Oxenham made a decision. He dedicated his career to tackling the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. This wildfire disaster, now known as Black Summer, was a catalyst. It spurred Rory and his colleague Alex Logan to quit their jobs to found a new venture: Cecil. Committed to driving high integrity nature markets, Cecil works to combine complex data sources and provide more accurate insights to market participants.

Can you introduce yourself and explain why you decided to found Cecil?

My life changed when I moved to Australia in 2015. I joined a clean tech startup with a mission to make residential battery storage and solar energy more accessible to rural Australian communities. Whilst it was here that my commitment to climate action took off, it would be another two years before I would meet my future co-founder. 

I met Alex Logan whilst working for the corporate venturing arm of Boston Consulting Group in Sydney, Australia. Here, we built and launched data-driven businesses for some of the most influential corporations in the world, spanning from insurance to agri-businesses. I’m not sure if either of us fully appreciated the severity of the climate crisis until it arrived on our doorstep in 2019. Catastrophic bushfires destroyed homes and natural ecosystems throughout Australia, claiming the lives of over three billion animals in the process. This tragedy sparked a joint decision; we would dedicate our careers to protecting, conserving and restoring the natural world.

Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?

Globally, there is a nature financing gap of more than US $700 billion. If we are to close this by 2030, it is essential we establish high-integrity nature markets. As nature-related claims underpin these markets, we believe these should be both backed by high integrity data and grounded in transparency.

However, at the moment, organisations investing in nature or assessing nature-related risks are struggling to tackle three, core data challenges:

  1. Inadequate data management systems
  2. Combining complex data sources
  3. Keeping up with nature-related reporting requirements

Inadequate data management systems

Access to accurate and comprehensive data is critical for teams operating in nature markets. However, these organisations are currently cobbling disparate data sources using ad-hoc and non-scalable management systems. This inevitably leads to information silos, data gaps and versioning issues – problems only made worse as data volumes increase overtime. What’s more, manual methods of merging and validating environmental, financial, and operational datasets are time consuming and error prone. This leaves organisations unable to reveal the necessary insights to support decision making and drive impact. 

Difficulties combining data sources

The rapid rise of machine-generated data sources, from satellites in the sky to sensors in the canopy of rainforests, has unlocked new opportunities for organisations investing in natural assets to measure and verify natural capital stocks. However, datasets in both public and private spheres contain inconsistent data formats that require manual extraction or manipulation before they are ready to be analysed. This leaves organisations unable to leverage the full value of comprehensive data sources and struggling to hire specialised in-house expertise to make sense of the information. Ultimately, such inconsistencies limit the number of much-needed nature market participants.

Complex nature-related reporting requirements

Nature markets are undergoing a massive transition. From emerging biodiversity markets to nature-related financial disclosures, the reporting requirements are rapidly changing. We are seeing an increasing level of expected transparency and integrity of underlying data upon which claims are based. 

As a result, organisations operating in nature markets are responding to changing regulatory landscape and building capacity to comply with complex reporting standards. However, in the absence of high integrity data, the challenge for organisations to keep up is overwhelming. Teams are left unable to scale their impact at a pace proportionate to the urgency of the dual crises we face. 

Let’s get technical: How does your product work?

Cecil is focused on solving the data problem for organisations operating in nature markets today. Cecil’s cloud-based data infrastructure is secure and scalable, enabling teams to leverage the full potential of nature-specific technology and the data it unlocks.

Teams use Cecil’s data platform to: 

Connect: Automatically ingest data with built-in integrations

The proliferation of machine-generated data sources has dramatically increased the breadth and depth of information available to investors in natural assets. Cecil supports the automated ingestion of structured environmental, geospatial and investment data through API integrations. Nature-specific data sources can fall under the following categories:

  • Public registries: IHS Markit, Verra, and Plan Vivo
  • Market intelligence data providers: Trove Research, Allied Offsets, and Viridios
  • Publicly available datasets: Global Forest Watch
  • Geospatial mapping tools: ArcGIS, QGIS and the Landapp
  • Existing or emerging digital monitoring, reporting, and verification technologies: Downforce technologies
  • Standards and VBBs: Woodland and Peatland Carbon Codes

Organise: Consolidate data systems into a single source of truth

Through working with leading global nature investors, Cecil has developed a nuanced capability for organising data in this domain. Cecil’s data models structure project/asset level data logically, so that normalised data can be monitored, transformed and analysed. This enables Cecil to represent the complexity of natural systems by layering and drawing relationships between datasets over time. Cecil’s data models also provide a foundation for combining first party data with external data sources such as emerging digital MRV technologies, industry databases and other government datasets.

Monitor: Improve data quality in near real-time

When it comes to monitoring, Cecil can identify and confirm inaccuracies in the ingested data by performing data validation and establishing best practices for data modelling. Equipped with pre-defined specifications, we make sure the inputted data conforms. If an inaccuracy is flagged, it will be automatically resolved by the system or reviewed by a member of the Cecil team. 

Share: Deliver valuable insights to investors, partners and regulatory bodies

Teams operating in nature markets must transparently communicate the integrity of their assets to investors, partners and regulatory bodies. By helping teams establish a strong foundation of valid, analysis ready data, Cecil unlocks the ability to share granular insights with all stakeholders via destinations such business intelligence dashboards or private reporting portals and websites.

Can you share a story of success?

We are privileged to collaborate with forward-thinking teams who are driving impact within emerging nature markets. One inspiring example is Foresight Sustainable Forestry Company (FSF), a publicly-listed company dedicated to investing in sustainably managed forestry and afforestation (new woodland creation) assets in the UK. FSF was awarded the Green Economy Mark by the London Stock Exchange at the time of its IPO, and manages its fund in alignment with Article 9 of the EU SFDR (which requires it to pro-actively set and monitor progress against sustainability objectives).

Cecil has helped FSF establish a robust data management system capable of seamlessly connecting operational, financial, carbon, and biodiversity data collected across their ever-expanding portfolio of assets. By centralising data managed by FSF’s portfolio management team and its contracted forest managers, ecologists, and ad-hoc service providers in one place, Cecil can implement stringent data validation checks that improve data quality over time. Transforming nature-related datasets into meaningful metrics to streamline FSF’s reporting processes is another key focus, driving transparency and trust with FSF’s internal and external network of stakeholders.

Cecil has demonstrated the positive impact of establishing a solid data foundation at FSF. We’re thrilled to be playing a small but important role in supporting their mission to make a meaningful difference in the world of sustainable forestry and beyond.

Finally, what’s next for cecil?

At Cecil, we are closely following emerging trends emerging for nature markets. Encouragingly, nature appears to be rising up the global agenda.

We have seen the EU’s directive on deforestation free products  and the UK’s mandating of biodiversity net gain for development and infrastructure projects. We’ve also seen significant progress with industry driven initiatives, including the first release of Science Based Targets for Nature and the final recommendation from the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures. Furthermore, 140 financial institutions have now signed the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, committing to the protection and restoration of biodiversity through their financial activities and investments. Going forward, we expect high integrity data to play a key part in driving these initiatives.

We’re also tracking how new innovations such as eDNA and bioacoustics are unlocking scalable new ways to track biodiversity. Organisations operating in nature markets are leveraging this opportunity to digitise existing datasets which, when paired with modern data models, can unlock new insights into the historic and forecasted health of natural assets. We believe that this trend will continue to increase the volume of data flowing through nature markets, rapidly reduce the costs to measure nature and, ultimately, transform how natural assets are financed.


Disclaimer: Cecil has worked with Respira International. Read more about Cecil here.

Biomass in action: Why CEO Marco Albani founded Chloris Geospatial

By Tech in Action

In the first of our Tech in Action  series, we speak to Marco Albani, the Co-Founder and CEO of Chloris Geospatial. Established in 2021, the company is operating at the intersection of space-tech and nature-tech. Using advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensor-fusion, the team at Chloris Geospatial can directly measure vegetation dynamics on earth, from space.

Can you introduce yourself and explain why you decided to found Chloris Geospatial?

Although I trained as a forest scientist, I spent much of the last 20 years working in sustainability and on climate change solutions for business. Time and again, I saw action hindered by a shortage of good operational-scale data and by a lack of understanding of how changes in land use impact the volumes of carbon stored in the earth’s vegetation. Businesses needed greater awareness of the impacts of their activities on the natural world. So, not only did I know there was space, but also a pressing need for a solution. 

I knew that Dr. Alessandro Baccini, Chief Scientist and co-founder of Chloris Geospatial, had been working on the science side of this issue for over 20 years. He was using remote sensing data to directly estimate the carbon stored in vegetation and forest. While we each came to the challenge from a different angle, we both recognised the importance of making this science available to the market – both at scale and at the speed of business. 

With a growing number of companies starting to take responsibility for their impact on climate and nature, we knew we needed to make our Chloris accounting system easy-to-access and reliable. In this way, we could help new players understand and visualise the carbon stored in forests and vegetation. This was the belief on which we founded Chloris Geospatial.

Could you say more on the problem you seek to solve?

Fundamentally, healthy economies are underpinned by natural capital, such as our forests and grasslands. So, for the global economy to strengthen and achieve a state of net-zero carbon by 2050, we must comprehensively conserve and restore these ecosystems.

At Chloris Geospatial, our mission is to accelerate the transition to a net-zero and nature-positive future. The way we do it is by making it easier for businesses to understand their impact on nature. We are aware that all businesses and corporations are facing the challenge of transitioning to a net-zero and nature-positive economy, which is why we are determined to make access to carbon data, and its insights, both fast and easy. 

At present, our primary focus is on companies operating in the voluntary carbon market and supply chain companies in the food, land use and agriculture sector. Here, the Chloris technology is enabling a real paradigm shift for the measurement of forest carbon. It brings unprecedented integrity, speed and scalability to the voluntary carbon market and to the measurement of the climate performance of forest carbon projects. In just a few hours, we can generate biomass predictions for anywhere in the world.

Our logic at Chloris Geospatial is that if business leaders can access high integrity accounting on natural capital, they need no longer question the carbon calculations on which their investments are based. Equipped with reliable, trust-worthy data, they are free to focus on taking effective action for climate and nature by accelerating investments in nature-based solutions while, at the same time, being able to cost effectively monitor impact with confidence. 

Let’s get technical: How does your product work?

Today, we are the leading company in the market to deliver what is referred to as direct measurement of above-ground carbon stock and change from space. The data we deliver is empirical, spatially explicit, wall-to-wall and comes with quantified uncertainty at the pixel-level. This means, we do not use the average emission factors and area-based estimates that standard remote-sensing approaches are reliant upon. 

Unlike those standard approaches – and thanks to our scientific, machine-learning and software innovations – we see all above-ground carbon changes over very large areas. We can spot carbon emissions from large-scale deforestation, degradation, disturbances and fires. More encouragingly, we also observe the carbon removals as a result of reforestation or restoration. That is why we say that ‘we see what the atmosphere sees’. 

When you unpick this statement, it means that we measure (and annually update) the volume of carbon in and carbon out, for every pixel on the planet, since the year 2000. This is what really matters for the credible carbon accounting that a credible transition to net-zero requires.

As I mentioned, the Chloris Platform is built on the work and experience of Dr. Alessandro Baccini. As a pioneer in measuring forest carbon stock and change from space, he has been instrumental in building our technology. Our data products are based on the fusion of datasets from public Earth Observation missions, including data from NASA’s ICESat GLAS and GEDI instruments, from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites, and from the United States Geological Survey’s Landsat satellites. 

To provide global coverage that incorporates geographic variation in vegetation types and structure, our models are trained at continental scale and capture geographic variations in allometry (the relationship between size and characteristics). Our models also capture the relationships between above ground biomass and remote sensing measurements. Once collected, our data is processed and delivered via the Chloris Platform, which is our cloud-native software infrastructure that deploys data at the speed of business, in a scalable and cost-effective manner. To ensure these high standards are maintained, we make both automated and manual assessments using proprietary benchmarks and publicly available data products.

As a result of the machine-learning and advances in artificial intelligence made by our science and engineering teams, our Platform provides accurate data and insights quickly and at large scale. Our machine learning models are anchored in state-of-the-art data science. They filter and pre-process input data for both quality and representativeness, and create novel predictive features that underpin our mapping algorithms. 

Arguably there is nothing new to use satellites to observe and measure forests, but the current standard approaches have serious limitations. We are pleased to overcome these at Chloris Geospatial and to bring to the market a solution that is able to visualise changes in biomass not only from degradation and deforestation, but also by the slow, steady re-growth of trees.

Can you share a story of success?

From very early on in our start-up journey, Permian Global was a dedicated adopter of our technology, trusting our data for their project development and MRV work in Indonesia. Gaining the trust of such a leading project developer was very encouraging. 

More recently, we have expanded our customer base for large scale work in the voluntary carbon market and in the food, land use and agriculture sectors. The opportunity to demonstrate our technology at these very large scales has been extremely positive for us.

On the product and science side, we are delighted to have achieved a big milestone this year. Since June 2023, we have been able to deliver spatially explicit, annual above-ground biomass stock and change data at 30 m resolution going back to the year 2000. Not only is this data extremely comprehensive, but also has full temporal and spatial consistency and scalability. This longer time series means we can gather more robust data on degradation and growth trends of above-ground biomass. As a result, we have significantly improved our ability to meet the needs of project developers and other actors who are screening and assessing high quality opportunities for avoidance and removals projects. 

Finally, what’s next for Chloris Geospatial?

We are not resting on our laurels! At the moment, we are continuing to develop our product to make it an even greater turnkey solution for REDD+ and ARR applications – both for developers and investors.

But, as a data company fully-focused on tracking natural capital performance over time, our attention isn’t limited to carbon. We see the measurement of biodiversity and water as viable, future opportunities for us and believe that such data would truly help communicate the value of nature conservation and restoration to businesses. Indeed, we see such measurements as essential if we are to build a net-zero and nature-positive economy.



Disclaimer: Respira International does not have any undisclosed affiliation with Chloris Geospatial, we are just interested admirers of their work and the way it aligns with ours. Find out more about Chloris Geospatial here.

Carbon Credits

Coming soon: Tech in Action

By Tech in Action

Technology is truly crucial for mitigating climate change and preserving our natural world. But although many of us understand this vast and emerging potential, far fewer are aware of the cutting-edge tech innovations already moving us closer to our environmental goals.

Enter our new series: Tech in Action. In every article, we will interview a leading climate or nature tech entrepreneur to highlight the latest developments in the world of tech.

Why now?

As a venture-backed, carbon finance business, we are focused on scaling high-quality, nature-based carbon solutions. Throughout our work, we have witnessed first-hand how climate and nature technologies are building on – and complementing – the hard work carried out across our sector to strengthen the integrity and transparency of the voluntary carbon market. Now, we would like to amplify these solutions and draw attention to positive, successful examples of climate action. 

What to expect?

In this series, you will hear from business leaders at all levels. From project developers to end-buyers, we reveal why each felt inspired to turn to tech. While shining a light on the specific problems each solution seeks to solve, this series is also an opportunity to learn about technicalities. How does the technology actually work? And how have these products brought environmental success? 

For all this and more, stay tuned for the first instalment of our Tech in Action series. Set for publication on the 12th of September, you will hear from Marco Albani, the Co-Founder and CEO of Chloris Geospatial. Utilising advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensor-fusion, Chloris Geospatial directly measures vegetation dynamics on earth, from space. 

To be notified of this article (and those to follow), connect with us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter.


Why we must invest in soil carbon storage

By News

It may sound far-fetched, but it’s true – the top thirty centimetres of the earth’s soil contains almost twice the volume of carbon as in our atmosphere. But while we increasingly acknowledge the role of the oceans and trees for carbon storage, we often forget the huge potential of the ground beneath our feet. 

To address this lapse of attention and raise awareness of the power of the soil, we will answer the following questions:

  • How does soil carbon storage work?
  • Why do we need healthy soils?
  • What prevents effective soil carbon storage?
  • How can we farm for soil health?
  • How do our flagship portfolio projects work to improve soil health?

How does soil carbon storage work?

The world’s soils are inherently carbon-rich. On a basic level, as plants photosynthesise, they capture carbon which is, as they die and decompose, stored in the soil. However, human activity can also seriously alter the soil’s carbon content. 

On the one hand, we can increase the ability of soils to capture carbon by planting crops. As they grow, these plants capture – or sequester – carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is transported through their intricate root systems and stored below the earth’s surface. But our growing needs for land and food are placing additional, excess pressure upon the earth. As forests are cleared and we turn to increasingly intensive agricultural practices, we prevent the soil from storing carbon at scale. With the climate crisis already at our door, destroying a natural method of carbon capture is extremely serious – we have no time to delay, we must invest to improve the health of the world’s soils. 

Why do we need healthy soils?

Our soils are absolutely foundational to support life on earth. When soils are healthy, they contain the correct mix of nutrients and microbiology to support a region’s native plants. This, in turn, supports an area’s overall biodiversity as mammals, birds and insects can consume the nutrients they need. What’s more, soil can hold more water when it is healthy and uncompacted. This can improve water retention, serving to reduce risks of flooding.

But this is not all; when soil is in a state of good health, it offers extensive benefits for our climate. Globally, our soils could sequester and store carbon at such a scale as to be transformational to climate mitigation efforts.

There is an increasing scientific consensus that farming can play a pivotal role in soil carbon storage. For instance, Jacqueline McGlade – former chief scientist at the UN environment programme – estimates that improving agricultural practices can boost soil carbon storage. The study finds that enhancing the farming techniques on half of the world’s agricultural land so as to store just one percent more carbon, would be enough to create substantial change. 

McGlade is not alone. Another study reports that if soil protection and restoration efforts were improved to the maximum, an additional 5.5 gigatonnes of CO2e could be sequestered and stored every year. However, other sources offer different estimates. Indeed, the NCS World Atlas – a tool developed by Nature4Climate and The Nature Conservancy to convey the potential of natural climate solutions for emissions reductions – considers 1-2 billion tonnes annually to be achievable. Although a smaller volume, the NCS World Atlas estimate is still a material amount – roughly equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Russia in 2020.

What prevents effective soil carbon storage?

The climate crisis poses a serious threat to soils. As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, soils can become dry, dusty and more likely to blow away. Not only does this limit the soil’s ability to capture and store carbon, it also reduces agricultural output. Without moisture, yields are lower, and more irrigation is required to keep farms productive. With the global population already exceeding 8 billion, maintaining (and increasing) the capacity of soil to produce food is critical for future food security.

 With so many mouths to feed, it is understandable that much of the world has turned to intensive agriculture over the past decades. In the agricultural sector, many farmers remain financially (and culturally) tied to nitrogen fertilisers, the extensive application of pesticides and using land, seemingly ceaselessly, for production. But the over-cropping and overgrazing of farmland has caused nutrient depletion and soil degradation. Therefore, in a collective bid to increase agricultural productivity, we have actually further limited our ability to produce food in the long-term. 

On a local scale, effective soil carbon storage can be prevented if farms operate from a place of financial insecurity. Without stable, steady incomes, transitioning to more sustainable agricultural practices can be unfeasible. However, financial incentive mechanisms could help farmers focus upon the health of their soils and shift to a more regenerative way of farming. 

How can we farm for soil health?

Despite the increasing body of scientific evidence on soil carbon storage, strategies to improve soil health are not widely deployed. But, this can be short-sighted; many of the methods used to boost soil carbon storage – such as regenerative agriculture – also improve yields and long-term soil fertility

Regenerative agriculture is a way of farming with nature, leveraging natural processes to safeguard soil health. For example, rather than relying on ploughing to aerate the soil, in regenerative farming, a thriving worm population fulfils this role. Pesticides and nitrogen fertilisers are exchanged for crop rotation, cover crops and the integrated grazing of livestock. This means that the same fields are not used repeatedly for a single species and that additional crops are planted between harvests. Therefore, carbon can be continually drawn from the atmosphere and into the otherwise barren soil and more nitrogen can be ‘fixed’ in the soil. As a result, farmers have less need for synthetic fertilisers. 

But, if faced with financial insecurity, how can farmers implement these changes? Fortunately, we are increasingly equipped with financial incentive mechanisms to offer support. Indeed, carbon finance payments can act as a bridge, helping farmers to incorporate regenerative approaches. Although generating carbon finance from soil organic carbon (SOC) requires accurate measurements, emerging Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) technologies offer great potential. MRV tools can be used for both direct measurement – such as soil sampling – and remote sensing.

Our commitment to soil carbon storage

At Respira, we recognise the power of healthy soil for climate mitigation and have been early supporters of two innovative soil carbon storage projects: one focused on grassland management and the other on regenerative, arable farming.  

First we partnered with the world’s largest soil carbon storage project – Northern Kenya Rangelands – which is restoring two million hectares of community-managed, grassland habitat. It is working to establish rotational grazing plans to limit the impacts of overgrazing, improve soil health and, as a result, sequester more carbon from the atmosphere.

Just last year, we welcomed a second soil carbon storage project to our portfolio. Established in 2020, Blaston Regenerative Farming Project is working to improve soil health across 230 hectares of Leicestershire farmland. Supported by independent agronomists, Indigro Ltd, Blaston Farm uses regenerative agricultural methods such as the direct drilling of arable land, crop rotation, the use of cover crops, and integrated livestock grazing. Not only do these methods enable the soil to store more carbon – but they also boost the farms overall biodiversity, long term productively and ultimately profitability. 

Based on the additional carbon stored in Blaston’s soils, the project generates soil carbon certificates which represent the net amount of carbon sequestered on the farm after deducting all emissions associated with the farm’s activities. The sale of these certificates is now the second largest source of income for Blaston Farm, providing an alternative to EU subsidies in a post-Brexit Britain. In this way, regenerative agriculture is an opportunity to promote environmental and financial sustainability. While producing nutritious food, a farm can take climate action via the direct sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. 

Such projects prove that agriculture can be a solution to – not a driver of – climate change. We remain extremely committed to soil carbon storage and are optimistic of the climate mitigation potential these projects provide. With more soil carbon storage projects in the pipeline, we invite you to watch this space for announcements.

Retired carbon credits explained

By News

When we hear the word ‘retirement’, most might imagine a pension, large quantities of free time and perhaps a new-found love of gardening. Given these connotations, it is perhaps unsurprising that used in the context of the voluntary carbon market, the concept of retirement can create confusion.

In the carbon markets, retirement has a different meaning. In its essence, a retired carbon credit means its buyer has ‘redeemed’ the one tonne of carbon reduction it represents and claimed it against their own emissions which they have not yet been able to cut. 

When a buyer retires a credit they have purchased, the credit is removed from the market. This means no one else is able to counterbalance their emissions based on the carbon reduction the credit represents. 

To put this in context, 196 million carbon credits were retired overall in 2022. If these retirements had been evenly distributed throughout the year, more than 500,000 credits would have been retired every, single day. Although this represents a 1.3 percent decline on the previous year, the most recent market sentiment survey from the IETA found optimism among its respondents. Based on the responses from market participants the survey predicts that the market will soon return to a positive upward trajectory.

Wait, how are credits generated?

To truly understand the concept of a retired carbon credit, let us first refresh ourselves on the basics of credits.

What? A carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide or an equivalent volume of another greenhouse gas (CO2e) that has been either removed from, or prevented from entering, the atmosphere. 

However, historically not all credits have been created equally. Learn more about the criteria for a ‘good’ credit with this article from our archives.

How? A credit can be generated from nature-based projects, technological climate solutions or even renewable energy generation. The volume of CO2e avoided or removed from the atmosphere is calculated and a corresponding number of carbon credits is conservatively calculated. 

The calculation process involves following established methodologies, baseline allocation and verification. Find out more about this process here.

Why? Carbon credits are sold to individuals and businesses to support their decarbonisation strategies. The carbon finance generated from these sales funds further climate mitigation activities and can even support the delivery of impactful, non-carbon benefits for people and nature.

For an example of carbon credits in action, please see this case study of the Gola Rainforest Conservation Project. And to learn more about the responsible purchase of credits, see this flyer on the mitigation hierarchy.

But why do you need to retire credits at all?

In this section we will cover why carbon credits need to be retired, including:

  • Confirming impact
  • Claims
  • Double-counting

When a buyer purchases carbon credits in line with the mitigation hierarchy, the positive benefits of those credits are not automatically attributed to that individual or company. Rather, the buyer ‘holds’ these credits until they wish to retire them. However, once a retirement has been executed, the buyer is free to claim the positive impacts the credits represent. This effectively ends the credit’s ‘life’ for it cannot be reused or reclaimed.

In this way, retirement stops the benefits of credit from being claimed multiple times. In the industry, this is known as preventing double-counting. Only the stakeholder who retires the credit can claim the emission reduction it represents towards its climate targets and they can only do so once. Retirement is extremely important for driving credibility and traceability when using carbon credits to achieve net zero.

What’s the process for retired carbon credits?

Before a carbon project can issue credits, it will complete a process of verification which happens within a framework set up by a programme, such as VCS by Verra or Gold Standard. Only after verification are credits issued in a dedicated registry. Credits are always marked with a unique serial number which allows them to be tracked and accounted for.

Carbon credits can be owned by a number of market participants – the project developer, financing institution, intermediary or a company wishing to use them to counterbalance their own emissions. They can be traded, sometimes several times, among the market participants. This means that carbon credits can exist, unretired, for some time. However, at the point of retirement carbon credits are permanently removed from circulation and cannot be resold. This prevents any double-counting of emission reductions. Information on historic retirements is stored in publicly accessible emission registries, driving transparency for the market.

The future of retired carbon credits

As technology advances, stakeholders across the voluntary carbon market are working to better the carbon markets including the retirement process itself. Blockchain, Tokenization and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) all hold great potential for scaling of the voluntary carbon markets. These technologies can boost the overall transparency of credit retirements and support the overall integrity of the markets. We look forward to engaging with new innovations as the world of credit retirements develops and interacts with these emerging technologies.

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World Environment Day: We need to invest in nature for climate action

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As an impact-driven carbon finance company, we channel capital to predominantly nature-based climate solutions while simultaneously supporting corporates to achieve ambitious climate targets. Given our mission, you could almost declare each day in the Respira office an environment day – we are constantly working to deliver positive impacts for both people and the planet. But today is particularly special: it is the 50th celebration of World Environment Day

Organised by the United Nations Environment Programme, this day is each year hosted by a different country and in 2023, it is the turn of the Côte D’Ivoire. It is a chance for people around the world to step up their environmental action; reassess measures taken and galvanise new levels of support. This year, World Environment Day is focusing attention on the global challenge of plastic pollution in recognition of the urgency with which we must change our attitudes to single-use materials. Indeed, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is made new every year, only half of which is intended to be used more than once. With a concerningly low proportion of this recycled (less than 10 percent), it is hardly surprising that around 20 million additional tonnes of plastic pollute our rivers, lakes and seas annually.

For climate action, with need nature

The challenge of plastic pollution does not exist in isolation. If our global ecosystems are degraded, destroyed and polluted, we cannot successfully mitigate against climate change. Yet, caring for our natural world requires substantial funding and policy development. As well as legislation reducing the ease with which we can produce, use and dispose of plastic, we must also think ‘big picture’ and protect our natural world using conservation and restoration projects. 

Nature-based climate solutions are one way in which we can deliver the finance needed to create protected zones. These solutions involve working with natural ecosystems – such as forests or oceans – to address global challenges. This could be a mangrove restoration project or a scheme to conserve an area of tropical forest. It has been estimated that if nature-based solutions are effectively deployed, it could be possible to reduce and remove at least 5 – and potentially 11.7 – gigatons of CO2e from the atmosphere every year. 

At Respira, we understand that to hold open the rapidly closing door to 1.5°C, we must tap into nature’s potential. We recognise that protecting our natural world is absolutely foundational to solving the global climate crisis. However, we are also acutely aware that current levels of funding to nature-based projects is simply not adequate to incentivise conservation and restoration on the scale required for mitigation. At present $2-3 billion is delivered each year. While this may sound substantial, we need at least $130 billion per annum if we are to meet our climate targets.

Therefore, on this World Environment Day, we echo the UN in its call to action. Today, we would like to remind business leaders, corporates and the general public that investing in nature is not simply the right thing to do, but is, in fact, essential for safeguarding our collective futures. To help deliver the finance needed, we are 100 percent committed to helping the voluntary carbon market scale with integrity, transparency and speed. 

Respira in Pakistan: Mangrove restoration on an immense scale

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Neatly planted mangroves stretch hundreds of thousands of hectares – a growing beacon of climate mitigation within a sea of containerships and fishing vessels. Bright green and full of life, these mangrove forests pose a striking juxtaposition to the industrialisation of Karachi’s port located at the far north of the project.

At the beginning of March, two members of our team were fortunate enough to visit Karachi – a sprawling microcosm of Pakistan and home to more than 20 million people. This was no tourist trip; CEO Ana Haurie and Director of Portfolio Management, Chris Villiers, were touching base with one of our flagship portfolio projects: Delta Blue Carbon.

Blue carbon refers to marine and coastal ecosystems – such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes – which can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We have recently published an article explaining the term and these ecosystems’ roles in climate mitigation if you would like to learn more.

A brown dirt track leads to a dark green mangrove plantation. Arranged in neat rectangular patches, two people tend to the saplings.

Delta Blue Carbon currently holds an impressive record. As the world’s largest blue carbon project, it is working to conserve and restore mangrove forests across 350,000 hectares of tidal river channels off the southeast coast of the Province of Sindh. Reflecting on her first impressions of the project, Ana said:

“The scale of the project was massive and monumental. When you read or see a PowerPoint, it’s hard to get the full impact of the work these projects are doing. But when you visit a project first-hand, it becomes even more meaningful.”

Chris was also struck by the scale of the project:

“It’s hard to process the extent of the restoration,” he said, “Even spending two days on a boat, we touched only a tiny corner of it.”

The scale of mangrove operations

Such is the scale of operations in Karachi that Delta Blue Carbon has planned mangrove planting schedules stretching to 2029. These plans are ambitious – in 2023 alone, the team hopes to have planted an additional 20,000 hectares of land. Ana remarked on the sheer logistics of these plans:

“When you see the project up close, you realise it’s such a feat to actually get it done! That was another thing which dawned on me was the determination that you have to have to make something like this a reality – it’s so impressive,” she said.

This large-scale project is the result of a pioneering public private partnership between the government of Sindh and a private project developer, Indus Delta Capital. Both Ana and Chris observed that local governments participation has been instrumental to the project’s success.

With over 20 years of planting experience, the Government of Sindh’s Forestry Department has shared valuable knowledge on the most appropriate tree species for the region to ensure resilience and biodiversity benefit. Although four mangrove species are planted in the project area, Rhizophora and Evercinia are most common due to the prevalent local conditions. This highlights the importance of working with local experts who can ensure that reforestation is truly context specific and appropriate for the ecosystem in question.

A man in a pink shirt holds two green mangrove saplings. One is the species Rhizophora and the other is Evercinia.

Rhizophora and Evercinia mangrove saplings.


Community participation

An estimated 42,000 people live in the project area and the team are confident that at least 20,000 have, in a variety of ways, benefited from its existence. Chris and Ana explained the four main ways in which people can participate:

  • The planting season brings with it ample temporary employment opportunities. In teams of 20 to 30, people set out to plant mangrove saplings. They are not immune from competition – the team proudly declared that they hold the Guinness World Record for the most planting in a single day!
  • Others gain temporary employment as re-stockers. These teams sail out to areas planted 10 months previously to replace any trees which have failed to grow. From here, the mangroves move to a state of self-sufficiency as they are fantastic self-seeders. With the right conditions, each area can become densely populated within 5 years of planting.
  • Local families or other members of the community can also take their own initiative to supply propagules (mangrove seeds) to the project developer for future planting in return for payments. Paid by the bag load, propagule collecting has become rather popular in the area. Ana and Chris recount how they saw a group of men building a high bank on the mud flats that would act as a collection point for seeds they planned to gather in the coming weeks.
  • The community also puts forwards certain individuals to act as stewards of specific areas of the project through the Mangrove Stewardship Program. . These individuals sign an agreement to protect the planted areas from harm and receive a salary in exchange for their labour. To date, 136 people have signed up to the program.

Considering these opportunities for community participation, Ana remarked on a palpable feeling of ‘collective buy-in’ from many local people. Chris voiced his agreement:

“We heard directly from people that they saw tangible value in the project. It feels like it is making a real difference to their lives.”

“That’s what the carbon markets can do,” Ana added. “It’s for the climate; it’s for biodiversity and it’s for the communities,” she paused for thought. “And that almost becomes more important.”


A blue landscape picture showing the calm waters off of Karachi, Pakistan and the cloudless blue sky above.

A group of 11 people, dressed predominantly in shirts, trousers and sun hats, stand by the side of the water.

A blue, decorated boat is mored in shallow waters in Karachi, Pakistan. Two men are on board, tending to mangrove saplings ready to be planted.

Picture credit: Ana Haurie & Chris Villiers

International Women’s Day: Climate solutions need female voices

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Evelyne Ligoberth Kapaya is a carbon champion. From her home in Katuma Village, Tanzania, she spends much of her time discussing deforestation and climate change. She sits down with local residents to raise awareness, not only of the impacts of tree felling, but also of solutions to the crisis. She is one of the many women around the world working to safeguard the future of our environment and is very much deserving of our celebration this International Women’s Day.

Every year on the 8th of March, we have an opportunity to acknowledge female achievements around the globe. However, at the same time, International Women’s Day is also a call to action. We need to better recognise women from history; we need more women in leadership positions and we urgently need more female voices, like Evelyne’s, in climate solutions.

Women are disproportionately affected by climate change

While the impacts of climate change undeniably touch the whole community, 68% of the 130 studies reviewed by Carbon Brief found that women and girls face more climate-related health risks than men and boys. Indeed, the article reports how women and girls are more likely to be adversely affected by harvest loss and are often the ones walking further to collect water during times of scarcity. Overall, the report concludes that existing gender inequalities tend to be exacerbated by changes to the climate and although women are not always experiencing the worst health outcomes of climate change, they are disproportionately affected.

Climate mitigation will be stronger with women

Given this disproportionate impact, women must be actively involved in the development and implementation of climate solutions for they have lived experience of the unique risks climate change presents for them in their area. This is especially important when the allocation of carbon revenue is decided.

Faraja Oswald Alberto works as a Finance Officer for Carbon Tanzania’s Ntakata Mountains project. Developing short and long term accounting plans with her local community, she has seen first hand how carbon finance has changed the area:

“Before the start of the Ntakata Mountains forest protection project, there was an invasion and massive clearing of forest areas. Our lands were badly damaged. After that, the community decided to make a plan for the best use of land and implemented a forest carbon project. Gradually, the environment began to improve as the community received carbon finance to support sustainable projects and forest conservation.”

This forest conservation has been supported by the growing number of female Village Game Scouts trained in Tanzania. Faraja continues:

“Village Game Scouts are now fully employed by their respective villages to protect the forests and are paid a monthly salary from the carbon credit revenue. Groups of entrepreneurs benefit from small loans made possible by carbon finance from Cocoba (Community Conservation Banks) to run their various wealth-producing activities. This is improving the local, community economy.”

Tatu Amani Mwita is a female entrepreneur who has benefitted from Cocoba finance. She owns a small restaurant in Kapanga Village which received loans from Cocoba to purchase equipment and expand the size of her restaurant. Now, Tatu employs six other women and her restaurant can run independently of loans. 

Equity is essential

This year, the  theme of IWD is equity. It was chosen to show how offering equal opportunities can still be exclusionary. On the face of it, an equality of resources and opportunities seems positive. Such a state is, afterall, an improvement when compared to much of the inequality we see today. However, equality does not allow for difference – everyone receives the same regardless of circumstance. Equity, on the other hand, recognises differing situations and allocates resources and opportunities accordingly. Understanding these differences is an essential first step to building, and facilitating, effective, equitable, climate solutions.

Equality-based solutions and equity-based solutions

What do these differences look like in practice? Well, equality-based solutions tend to be founded in impartiality whereas equity-based solutions consider the diverse and varying experiences of individuals and tailor solutions to account for these differences. As a result, equity-based solutions are more long-term for they address issues on a deeper level than those founded on equality. For women, this distinction is key. For instance, the women affected by climate-induced floods in California will have a radically different experience to women facing extreme flooding in Pakistan. Therefore, solutions must be context-specific if they are to be effective.

For climate, we must ensure that nature-based solutions are also equity-based solutions which actively involve and seek the participation of women. And this need not be confined to one day a year. Every day you can consciously amplify the voices of women, share their work with your networks and celebrate the achievements of your female colleagues. See our flagship portfolio projects to find out how carbon finance supports women.


Picture credit: Carbon Tanzania and Roshni Lodhi.