It’s been a heartening month for those of us involved in tackling climate change. As we all become better equipped at operating within the ‘new normal’ set by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are feeling positive about the future as we witness corporates redoubling their efforts to tackle the climate crisis. And global politics look set to align too, with the US making commitments to re-join the Paris Agreement and the UK government pushing mandatory reporting of the business impacts of climate change by 2025.
This week, the Mark Carney Taskforce also launched its consultation paper which aims to identify ways to scale the voluntary carbon markets by up to 160 times to help tackle climate change. It’s just one of an increasing number of reports that acknowledge that taking responsibility for today’s emissions through carbon offsetting is essential if we are to meet our Net Zero targets and prevent catastrophic climate change.
Projects in the Voluntary Carbon Market have already reduced more than 600 million tonnes of CO2 since the 90s – but there is so much more to do. And it’s great to see mainstream business, finance and investors recognise that in order to meet the Paris trajectory of 1.5°C, corporates will need to take responsibility for their entire emissions right now. And that alongside internal reductions, the Voluntary Carbon Market is an established, effective, and robust way of achieving this goal, through funding emission reduction projects internationally and domestically.
Gone are the days when carbon management plans were focused only on reduction and there was ample time for businesses to deliver them. Ultimately, we need to more than halve emissions by 2030. That’s a lot to do, in very little time. For instance, this is equivalent to reducing the current emissions of China, India, the EU and the US combined. To make this happen, we need to use every tool in the box, and we need to do so quickly. This consultation emphasises that carbon offsetting is firmly on the table as an essential tool to help us to achieve that goal.
As a project developer ourselves, we are keen to see how the Taskforce can help to unlock new demand and finance for project development, helping us deliver more emission reductions from high quality projects.
The Taskforce is also considering a suite of activities to stimulate demand. In particular, we think that the creation of sector collaboration and commitments could be a way to drive change across whole sectors. We also believe that long term commitments and offtake agreements will help give project developers, like us, the confidence to scale our activity on the ground to the scale required.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is a consultation document and as such there is still much to be reviewed and discussed. However, we have identified some areas we think may need further thought. In particular we want to ensure that funds flow to high impact projects on the ground – where they are most needed, that we maintain a focus on both avoidance and removal projects, and that we build on the existing rigour and process in the market.
As this and other interest in the voluntary carbon market develops, our primary concern and focus remains on scaling our activity to finance, manage and develop robust and effective carbon reduction projects that both cut carbon and improve lives.
As such, we are already working with our clients to develop long term strategies that maintain a company’s Climate Neutral status, and set them on the journey to Net Zero. This involves investing now to scale existing carbon reduction projects and to develop new ones – from renewable energy and reforestation, to mangrove creation and restoring peatland.
To hear more about market developments and the essential role of carbon offsetting in meeting our climate commitments, sign up to hear from Nigel Topping – High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26 – at 3pm on Monday 23rd November.