Highlighting The Positives Of The Carbon Market

Aerial shot of Amazon rainforest
Ric Porteus CEO

Ric Porteus CEO

It’s been an interesting week on Linkedin and watching the media output following the Guardian newspaper’s one-sided article on the validity of carbon credit issuance. This seems an irresponsible approach, that completely disregards the immense and critical benefits gained by funding the protection and regeneration of nature.

I feel that as CEO of a global platform that supports hundreds of conservation organisations benefiting indigenous tribes and small holders globally, who are dedicated to helping to protect, regenerate and prevent forest biodiversity loss, we have a deep insight and decades of experience in this sector. 

It’s clear that scrutiny and scientific evaluation is important, especially in an area that is so new and that aims to address such an urgent need for our planet.  Verra’s concise response strongly refutes the alarmist claim that 94% of REDD+ carbon credits are over issued and do not represent genuine reductions in carbon emissions. They identified the fundamental flaws in relying on “incorrect synthetic controls” for REDD+ projects that did not compare “like for like,” that disregarded Verra’s stringent methodologies and did not take into account on the ground, site specific pre-conditions and local factors specific to each project. It’s also important to note that the West et al. 2020 and 2023 and Guizar-Coutiño et al. 2022 studies, which The Guardian based its article on, have not been peer reviewed, so the validity and impact of this seems disproportionate and grossly misleading.

My concern is the wider impact this attempt to discredit the voluntary carbon market will have, not only  businesses that genuinely want to contribute to forest conservation as part of their net zero strategies but more importantly the impact on the local communities and landholders who are dedicated to preserving the world’s natural resources and ecosystems.

I’d like to therefore focus on the positives, on the incredible opportunity nature based solutions bring to communities, individuals, companies and ultimately our planet.

What’s good about the voluntary carbon market?

  1. Democratising access to funds – The voluntary carbon markets are the financial delivery system that not only puts a value on the protection and regeneration of nature but most importantly democratises the benefits and allows some of the most marginalised peoples to gain direct funds from their contribution to forest conservation.
  2. Technology advances – Highlighting flaws, inherent in most financial systems, can be a positive, especially when it increases the demand for the development of new science and technology. We are currently experiencing a boom in technological developments that are taking old legacy systems into the new age and making huge advances in verification, validation and monitoring technologies, such as;, satellite and lidar high density scanning that is enabling more accurate inventories of forests to be measured. 
  3. Protecting biodiversity is critical – Biodiversity is in collapse and the additional benefits in nature based solutions is the focus on the regeneration and protection of forest biomass, ecosystems and biodiversity.
  4. Deforestation must be stopped – Despite the criticism, carbon projects are still one of the most effective methods for preventing deforestation by providing economic incentives for conservation. We don’t have time, we need every solution and we need it now. Carbon projects are a key solution and must be scaled up urgently if we want to end deforestation by 2030.

All of these factors are driving a ‘carbon markets V2.0’ approach and the next critical decade for climate action and enabling climate finance to hit the ground and protecting forests has never been in better shape. We now have the technology and investment to drive real protection, regeneration and move toward a more established and robust market.

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