The Dual Roles of Carbon Credits: Avoidance and Removal in the Modern VCM

Published by firstgreen on

In the ever-evolving landscape of climate action, the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) emerges as a beacon of hope and a tool for change. Navigating this landscape requires understanding the nuances of carbon credits: both the ones that advocate for emission avoidance and the others that focus on its removal.

Carbon Credits: A Primer

Carbon credits represent a tangible step towards combating the looming specter of climate change. But to effectively employ them, we need to discern between the two primary types: Avoidance Credits and Removal Credits.

Avoidance Credits: Preventing the Problem

Avoidance credits originate from projects intent on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions before they reach our atmosphere. These projects operate by comparing emissions to a set baseline and aim to reduce them from the outset.

For instance, REDD+ projects are exemplary in this category. They operate by mitigating forestry loss and preserving existing forests. Similarly, renewable energy initiatives also fall under this category. By sidelining fossil fuels and harnessing the power of wind, sun, or water, these projects prevent the release of CO2, making our present more sustainable.

Removal Credits: Rectifying the Past

Then come the removal credits. These are drawn from activities that literally pull carbon from the atmosphere. This can be achieved through natural methods, like restoring forests, peatlands, mangroves, and seagrasses. On the technological front, innovations like direct air capture and accelerated mineral weathering come into play.

While they have garnered favor among corporate buyers for their dual benefits and narrative appeal, they face challenges. The lead time for these projects is significant, which might deter their rapid adaptation, even though the demand for such credits is on the rise.

It’s crucial to understand that while removing carbon tackles the aftermath, it doesn’t negate the initial emission. This underlines the importance of both credit types in our arsenal against global warming.

Straddling the Line: Financial Contributions vs. Reduction Claims

Transitioning to a net-zero future is no longer a distant dream but an active mission. The private sector, with its sizable influence and resources, is leading this charge. The transition encompasses internal carbon pricing, high-quality offsetting, and reduction claims for what remains.

The Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) has grown in prominence and is under scrutiny more than ever. Clarity, transparency, and credibility are of paramount importance, especially when terms like “net-zero” and “carbon neutral” are brandished.

Organizations like ICROA engage with a multitude of stakeholders to pave a credible path for corporate climate claims. Their aim? Ensuring quality, integrity, and impactful action.

An interesting development is the “contribution claim”. Here, businesses fund a climate project but don’t offset against their GHG inventory. Instead, they pronounce their financial backing towards emission reduction outside their boundary. This initiative is especially significant for countries aligned with the Paris Agreement targets, fostering sustainable development globally.

However, challenges arise in this method too. The process could potentially slow down due to limited incentives and inadequate impact verification tools. But the horizon looks promising with the possibility of hybrid climate financing solutions that serve both corporates and host nations.

The VCM’s Future: A Confluence of Integrity and Action

The upcoming year is pivotal for the VCM, shaping its structure and future. The market’s health hinges on the combined actions of its participants and their dedication to ensuring the integrity and credibility of the VCM.

ICROA, with its Accreditation Programme, provides a platform for organizations to align with the best practices, offering continuous support through various initiatives. This amalgamation of advocacy, action, and guidance aims to bolster the VCM’s longevity and impact.

In Conclusion

As we stand on the precipice of a changing climate, understanding the nuances of the VCM and carbon credits becomes paramount. Both avoidance and removal credits hold the key to a sustainable future, and with the combined efforts of the private sector, governments, and organizations like ICROA, there’s hope on the horizon.