Published on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.
We believe nature-based carbon credits can provide significant climate change benefits and we believe it is necessary to scale this area exponentially faster than is currently happening. And we believe this scaling needs to happen at the same time as decarbonization. The reasons are fourfold:
- There is no credible pathway to limiting temperature rise to 1.5C degrees by the end of the century without nature-based solutions.
- Nature based carbon funding makes reforestation and conservation financially attractive to communities and nations worldwide.
- With the combination of decarbonization and investment in nature-based solutions, companies can accelerate their climate action compared to waiting until they have reached decarbonization goals
- When rigorously vetted, verified and monitored carbon credits can provide real and quantifiable emissions reductions or removals.
First, according to the IPCC*, there is no credible pathway to limit warming to 1.5°C without both operational carbon emissions reductions and the removal of carbon from the atmosphere through nature-based solutions – including removing carbon and reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest loss. Natural climate solutions are a cost-effective, proven and scalable mechanism available today to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Second, to reach the scale required for climate impact, nature investment needs to attract an order of magnitude greater capital. An important way to achieve that is by making preservation or restoration of natural ecosystems to be financially better than destroying them. We need to not just tell countries what they must do but actually create a model that will fund conservation and reforestation at a $100+ billion scale to make carbon-soaking forests a viable economic alternative to other land uses — and provide a myriad of co-benefits like fostering biodiversity, providing and protecting clean water, and supporting livelihoods.
Third, companies must aggressively address the full impact of their comprehensive Scopes 1, 2 & 3 emissions. In addition to rapid decarbonization, for most companies to reach net zero emissions they will also require the use of carbon credits. Even hitting sector-specific operational decarbonization goals by 2030 could leave ~50% of emissions unaddressed for 10+ years — with higher percentages in the early years of decarbonization. While carbon credits cannot be used in place of aggressive decarbonization, they can help companies address carbon that cannot be eliminated, immediately and going forward.
Fourth, on the important matter of actual project performance, the carbon credit industry will have failed projects – like any fast growing, newly emerging industry. However, with rigorous vetting, verification, and monitoring carbon credits can generate quantifiable carbon reductions and removals. Companies must treat carbon credits as they would any other investment, and rely on both independent experts as well as their own due diligence to ensure the credits they buy are high quality. With increasingly rigorous methodologies, emerging verification and monitoring technologies that make use of remote-sensing, and leadership from organizations such as the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM), the Voluntary Carbon Markets Initiative (VCMI), and Nature Climate Solutions (NCS) Alliance, buyers have the tools needed to ensure that they are acquiring high quality carbon credits.
We urge businesses to set science-based targets to urgently reduce their emissions – inclusive of comprehensive Scopes 1, 2 & 3 emissions – while also investing in nature. That means immediately and aggressively both decarbonizing to meet these targets and investing in high quality nature-based carbon credits. The climate crisis requires nothing less.
*IPCC Assessment Report 6, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/