Carbon Credits: A Sustainable Solution for Businesses 

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In today’s rapidly changing world, the need for solutions to address climate change have become more pressing than ever. 

 

Carbon credits offer businesses a unique opportunity to not only support their decarbonization journey but also support projects that are making strides toward addressing other sustainable development challenges. 

 

While there is certainly a need for corporations to take responsibility over the emissions along their supply chains, a goal of net-zero will be cost prohibitive without using carbon credits as part of the decarbonization toolkit.

 

In this article, we will dive deeper into the voluntary carbon market, exploring how businesses can use carbon credits wisely as well as the co-benefits that projects help support.

 

Join us as we uncover the untapped potential of carbon credits and how they can be effectively used to stay under the 1.5ºC warming threshold.

 

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What is a Carbon Credit?

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A carbon credit is a tradable certificate that represents the reduction or removal of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. 

 

It is a unit of measurement used to quantify the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions that have been reduced or captured as part of a verified project, against a given baseline. 

 

These projects can include activities such as energy efficiency improvements at the household or industrial level, renewable energy generation, reforestation, and methane capture from landfills or livestock, to name a few.

 

Corporations have an inherent carbon footprint and are increasingly committing to reducing or even eliminating it. As they embark on their decarbonization path and such technologies evolve, carbon credits present an opportunity to meet their interim goals.

 

Additionally, these projects present  the potential to funnel capital to least developed countries and indigenous or other underserved communities in the form of employment, benefit-sharing agreement, infrastructure, etc.

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Types of Credits and How They Are Generated

There are multiple ways of reducing emissions or removing them from the atmosphere. Understanding how projects credit emissions gives users a clearer picture of their impact and claims.

 

At Viridios AI, we break them down using the following taxonomy:

Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU)

Captures nature-based solutions driven by the use of land and ecosystems.

Energy Efficiency and Fuel Switch

Captures projects that reduce energy consumption or reduce the carbon intensity of the energy supply.

Renewable Energy

Captures the displacement of fossil fuels by renewable sources of energy.

Standards

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To ensure transparency and accountability, project owners follow a set of rules and verification procedures to register their projects under a given standard.

 

These standards have either their own registries or partnerships with registries to host their projects and associated information and serve as a central database where credits are issued, canceled, and/or retired. They provide a reliable and standardized system for verifying and tracking the ownership and authenticity of carbon credits.

 

Standards play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of carbon offset projects by verifying that the emissions reductions claimed are accurate and that the projects meet set rules that aim to ensure that the project has resulted in credible emissions reductions or removals.

 

They also enable businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by providing a transparent record of their carbon offset activities.

Carbon Crediting Bodies

Discover some of the key players within the voluntary carbon market along with their respective roles:

Carbon credit registries 

The organizations’ impact registry is publicly accessible and enables the tracking of customers’ environmental assets, or carbon credits.

Verra

Verra, a prominent name in the voluntary carbon market since 2007, leads in establishing standards, methodologies, and verifying global carbon offset projects. Verra is a non-profit organization, collaborating with governments, businesses, and third party verifiers to ensure project credibility. 

 

Verra also manages a carbon crediting registry, serving as a central repository for the retirement and transfer of carbon credits, tracking credit transfers and carbon reduction. 

The Gold Standard 

The Gold Standard is another notable name in carbon registries and methodologies.

Established in 2003, it also creates standards and methodologies for carbon crediting projects, including concrete carbonation and biogas-related animal manure management. 

 

There are also other registries in the market, such as Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, Puro.earth, Plan Vivo, etc.

 

And in the past few years, we’ve seen smaller registries emerging, for example, Cercarbono, which started in the Colombian compliance market.

Integrity initiatives 

An integrity initiative is an organization dedicated to enhancing the quality, precision, and credibility of credits and claims circulating within the carbon market.

Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI)

Launched in March 2021, the VCMI‘s primary objective is to instill assurance into corporations’ procurement of carbon credits. 

 

Focused on meeting the demands of corporations, the VCMI offers guidance aimed at assisting companies in how to participate in the market and make substantiated emissions reductions claims.

Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM)

The ICVCM, also founded in 2021, takes on the supply aspect of the carbon credits domain. 

 

This organization formulated the Core Carbon Principles, a framework for standards and project developers to follow to align with their integrity principles which cover the areas of  additionality, durability, leakage, informed consent, etc. 

Rating agencies 

BeZero Carbon

BeZero Carbon is a rating platform that employs advanced methodologies to evaluate projects based on industry-specific risks and geographical factors. 

 

Through its innovative approach, BeZero Carbon provides real-time monitoring using satellite technology, ensuring accurate assessment and categorization of projects within distinct sub-sectors.

Sylvera

Established in 2019, Sylvera employs advanced technologies like machine learning and utilizes proprietary data to provide comprehensive and accurate insights into the effectiveness of carbon offset projects.

 

Currently, Sylvera focuses on evaluating projects related to deforestation and forest degradation reduction (REDD+), afforestation, reforestation, and revegetation (ARR), improved forest management (IFM), and renewable energy sources (RES).

Benefits of Carbon Credits for Businesses

benefits-of-carbon-credits

Investing in carbon credits offers numerous benefits for businesses as a component of their journey towards net-zero. By leveraging the resources listed above, they can more confidently make use of this tool to meet their goals.

 

While corporations should take steps towards reducing future emissions by upgrading  assets, improving processes, and adapting their business models. Simultaneously, carbon credits play a crucial role in the corporate decarbonization toolkit by offering flexibility, control, and substantial cost reductions. 

 

Additionally, businesses can contribute to supporting projects worldwide that deliver concrete and tangible benefits to their communities, all while contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Carbon Credits: Possibly Boosting Returns

As businesses increasingly recognize the importance of sustainability, carbon credits are emerging as a valuable asset class. They offer a unique investment opportunity for businesses looking to diversify their portfolios while supporting contributions to the SDGs.

 

Investing in carbon credits can provide businesses with financial returns, especially as the demand for carbon credits continues to grow. 

 

However, akin to any other investment, carbon credits entail their own array of risks and hurdles. 

 

Prior to investing, it is crucial to grasp the mechanics of the carbon credit market, as well as its regulations and guidelines. It’s important to note that the value of carbon credits is subject to fluctuations, and past performance is not a guarantee of future success.

How Do Companies Decide What Carbon Credits to Buy?

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Net-zero commitments have been made by 45% of the globe’s largest corporations.  

 

To realize these ambitions, the vast majority of these organizations will have to use carbon credits to balance their emissions. 

 

When considering the purchase of carbon credits, businesses must carefully evaluate the projects they support to ensure their credibility and impact. Key factors to consider include:

Quality

Quality refers to the degree to which a carbon offset project meets certain standards and criteria, ensuring that the claimed emissions reductions or removals are accurate, verifiable, and have a genuine positive impact on addressing climate change. 

 

High-quality carbon credits or offsets are generated from projects that adhere to recognized methodologies, accurately measure their emissions reductions, and demonstrate additionality – meaning the reductions wouldn’t have occurred without the incentive provided by the carbon market. 

 

Third-party certifications and standards, such as BeZero and Sylvera, have a significant role in helping market participants assess credit quality and associated risks more effectively.

Co-Benefits

Businesses can also consider the co-benefits associated with carbon offset projects. These can include social, economic, and environmental benefits such as job creation, biodiversity conservation, waste reduction, gender equity, etc.

 

Choosing projects that align with the business’s values and objectives can enhance the impact and engagement.

Transparency and Reporting

It is important for companies to select projects that provide transparent reporting and regular updates on the progress and impact of the initiatives. This allows businesses to communicate their carbon offset activities effectively and demonstrate their commitment to decarbonizing.

 

By carefully evaluating these factors, businesses can make informed decisions when purchasing carbon credits and ensure that their investments have a meaningful and positive impact on the environment.

Conclusion

High-integrity carbon credits offer businesses a tool to use to meet their decarbonization objectives while potentially supporting contributions to the SDGs. By investing in carbon offset projects, businesses can offset their own emissions while supporting initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. 

 

As an emerging asset class, carbon credits also offer businesses a unique investment opportunity while addressing the climate crisis. By carefully evaluating the projects, businesses can make a tangible and measurable difference. 

 

Learn more about carbon credits by booking a demo with our specialists!

 

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About the authors:

María Elisa Vollmer is Head of Project Data at Viridios AI.  She has five years of experience in sustainability consulting for the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Her diverse background blends international development, environmental policy, and economics. She has a Master’s in Applied Economics from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Policy and Planning from Virginia Tech.

 

Mariana Marins is Content Marketing Manager at Viridios AI. Mariana has 9 years of experience in marketing across different markets and companies, both in the non-profit and private sectors. Her background includes marketing and GTM strategies, CX, inbound marketing, SEO, and content production.She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/Marketing, a MBA in Business Management and Design Thinking, and an Innovation Leadership Program Certificate from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

 

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