Glossary

Emerging Efforts to Address Reforestation’s Most Challenging Problem

Emerging Efforts to Address Reforestation’s Most Challenging Problem

Emerging Efforts to Address Reforestation’s Most Challenging Problem


by: David Chen | June 20, 2022

Sapling of a tree to be reforested.

The Difficulty of Financing Reforestation

Reforestation is emerging as a desirable and effective tool for carbon emission removals and has received increased attention from investors in the last several years. Investments in reforestation enable vital carbon removal from the atmosphere and offer innumerable ancillary environmental and social benefits, from creating critical habitats for biodiversity to improving water quality, groundwater recharge, and flood prevention for local communities. Despite the demand for the carbon removals and ancillary benefits that reforestation projects provide, the most challenging obstacle for reforestation-based carbon offset projects begins before a shovel ever touches the ground.  

For nearly all reforestation carbon offset projects, the majority of costs, such as securing easements (to ensure long-term permanence) and planting activities, occur at the beginning of a project. In contrast, most carbon sequestration benefits from reforestation activities, and therefore the associated revenue from carbon offsets, accrues slowly over a long-time horizon. This delay between when costs occur and when revenue is realized has historically made reforestation challenging to finance and has hindered projects from getting off the ground; project developers cannot implement a reforestation project without a sizable initial investment, and investors looking to secure carbon credits can find it challenging to justify such an investment without assurances that expected carbon benefits from the investment would be delivered over an extended timeline.  

Although financing challenges have hindered reforestation efforts for decades, several well-known carbon offset registries, such as the Climate Action Reserve and Verra, are developing new programs and instruments that aim to address those early finance hurdles and enable more project developers, like ClimeCo, to bring reforestation projects to market.  

Boat driving by bald cypress trees in marshy water.


CAR’s Climate Forward Program

One approach currently offered is the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) Climate Forward program that seeks to drive forward-looking investments, such as reforestation, by allowing projects to generate ex ante credits called Forecasted Mitigation Units (FMUs) that can be utilized to help finance the high upfront cost of getting a project launched. As opposed to traditional carbon credits generated ex post or after emission reductions occur and can be used to offset existing sources of emissions, FMUs are an environmental instrument that are issued based on forecasted emission reductions and/or removals and are intended to offset a future stream of emissions from new economic activity (i.e., a new construction project or development). Reforestation projects under the Climate Forward program must meet stringent eligibility requirements to ensure that the carbon sequestration benefits are additional and minimize and account for the risk of natural or intentional “reversals,” a situation where the stored carbon associated with a project is released back to the atmosphere. 

In late April this year, CAR released Version 2 of the Climate Forward Reforestation Methodology, with additional assurances that bolster the environmental integrity of FMUs generated from reforestation projects in the Climate Forward program. One of the most noteworthy additions to the Reforestation Methodology is the inclusion of a permanence risk buffer pool to account for unintentional reversals outside a project’s control, such as fire, insects, and disease. To account for these unavoidable reversals, the newly updated Reforestation Methodology will require every reforestation project in the Climate Forward program to contribute a certain percentage of FMUs into a “permanence risk pool,” which will be collected and held as insurance. If an unintentional reversal occurs, CAR will retire the corresponding amount of FMUs from the permanence risk pool to compensate for the negative impact of the reversal. These updated assurances to the Reforestation Methodology will help give buyers confidence that their FMUs represent carbon that is stored for the long term. 

Saplings of mangroves to be planted in reforestation effort.


Verra’s Projected Carbon Unit

Carbon registry Verra is currently creating a solution for addressing this financing problem with a new commodity called a “Projected Carbon Unit” or “PCU.” PCUs are intended to help provide a source of upfront revenue to support the development of projects on Verra’s registry before the verification and issuance of Verra’s standard carbon offset or Verified Carbon Units (VCU).  

Unlike the FMUs generated in the Climate Action Reserve program, PCUs are not ex ante but are an instrument that reflects the validated projection of expected emission reductions or removals and cannot be used for offsetting claims until the associated emission reductions or removals are successfully verified (i.e., after the reduction has occurred). Upon successful verification, the PCU’s will automatically be converted to ex post VCUs. PCUs are intended to be generated using Verra’s existing methodologies which theoretically could provide early finance for a multitude of nature-based solutions and other carbon offsetting project types. Verra has completed two rounds of public consultation and intends to operationalize and launch PCUs in September 2022.  


Conclusion

The recent addition of the permanence risk buffer pool to the Climate Forward program and Verra’s development of PCUs are part of a larger trend of creative solutions being designed to help reforestation efforts meet the growing demand for nature-based solutions. I am excited to see these efforts by CAR and Verra and look forward to seeing even more future innovative solutions that will support these types of opportunities. The more we can reduce the hurdles of nature-based projects, the more our planet benefits.  

 


About the Author

David Chen is passionate about nature-based and blue carbon project development. From replanting bald cypress trees in the Mississippi River delta to reestablishing mangroves forests in international countries, David knows the positive impact these projects have on biodiversity and coastal resiliency to improving local livelihoods. David is a Program Development Manager at ClimeCo and has a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and received his Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Riverside. 

Key Takeaways From NACW

Key Takeaways From NACW

Key Takeaways From NACW


by: Greg Cesare | May 25, 2022

 NACW Conference Panel with Lauren Mechak   

Why Should You Know About North American Carbon World?

Along with several ClimeCo colleagues, I had the pleasure of attending the nineteenth annual North American Carbon World (NACW) conference held April 6-9th in Anaheim, California. As we have in the past, ClimeCo was one of the event’s corporate sponsors. While the 2021 virtual NACW conference offered a unique opportunity for attendees to learn and participate, we were excited to be in person again. NACW provides a fantastic opportunity for participants in the carbon markets to experience great panels of speakers and catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

For those unfamiliar with NACW, it is a premier event in North America focused on climate policy and carbon markets. This year’s conference included over 720 attendees, representing 14 countries. The conference attracts stakeholders from various backgrounds and industries, including project developers, verification bodies, non-profits, international carbon registries, government, community members, academia, carbon finance, technology startups, and Fortune 500 companies. The conference attendees share a common goal of addressing the climate crisis through innovative solutions.

It was an incredible couple of days spent meeting with stakeholders in the carbon markets. Truly one of the most rewarding aspects of the conference was getting to know what drives these stakeholders and their interest in various aspects of the market. The wide range of topics, including natural climate solutions, digital assets, and policy outlooks, brought together a diverse group of experts. Reflecting on the conference, I have a few key takeaways:

Team ClimeCo at the NACW Conference 

Supporting Voluntary Carbon Market Growth

The voluntary carbon market continues to grow significantly, and much of the growth is driven by corporate sustainability goals. How the voluntary market responds to the demands from corporate buyers will be of critical importance to sustain its momentum. While country-level commitments made through the Paris Agreement, for example, play a vital role, the voluntary market provides a tremendous opportunity to utilize the financial power of the private sector to address the climate crisis at the urgent pace required.

As highlighted in the panel discussion, “State and Future of the North American Voluntary Carbon Market,” whom ClimeCo’s Director of Program Management, Lauren Mechak participated, the voluntary market is well designed to support innovation to capitalize on the financial power of the private sector. Many innovations are being developed that require carbon finance to be commercially viable. For example, unique project types and emerging technologies in remote sensing and blockchain technology are being explored for implementation in carbon projects and the carbon market. The flexibility of the voluntary market is built to support these innovations, but it is vitally important that it’s done correctly by adhering to the principles and standards required for high-quality offsets.

Projects Must Deliver Quality, Transparency, and Accountability

A key aspect of supporting the market growth is the demand from credit buyers and the public for a transparent and high-quality process. Investors demand projects that ensure real and permanent greenhouse gas emission reductions. Transparency in how carbon offset methodologies are created, projects are developed, and credits are verified is vitally important to ensuring the continued growth of the voluntary market.

One of my favorite panel discussions focused on Driving High-Quality Standards in Carbon Markets. This panel highlighted initiatives in the carbon market focused on bringing increased transparency into project activities. Efforts to develop tools that assist market participants with evaluating what a “good” offset project looks like are underway, such as the Carbon Credit Quality Initiative. These initiatives aim to enhance the integrity of carbon credits by providing independent and easily understood scoring of carbon credits.

Corporate buyers also provided their perspectives regarding the challenges they face in evaluating carbon offset projects. Many simply do not have the expertise to adequately review lengthy project description documents and understand the underlying assumptions of the project and the methodology upon which the project was established. The level of detail provided in the publicly available documentation can be challenging for buyers and much of the general population to understand on their own. Some individual companies can bring expertise in-house to evaluate the quality of an offset credit. However, experts within the carbon market have an opportunity to provide simplified guidance on what a “good” carbon credit looks like. Initiatives that create tools and simplify access to information make it easier to understand what’s behind a given project, which provides the confidence for projects they are supporting – delivering real and permanent climate impacts.

NACW Conference room filled with seats


As a project developer, ClimeCo always strives to provide as much transparency as possible. We participate in widely trusted and recognized carbon registries, such as the Climate Action Reserve, Verra, Gold Standard, and the American Carbon Registry. Carbon registries play an essential role in addressing transparency and quality. The voluntary market relies heavily on registries and verifiers to demonstrate the validity of an offset. These registries provide the public opportunities to comment on our projects and review summary information about their design and performance. I believe the discussions regarding simplifying publicly available information will lead to an even more transparent and trusted process. Our projects must also undergo independent verification before issuing carbon offset credits. The independence of verification bodies and carbon registries is vital for ensuring the quality of carbon offset projects and maintaining the integrity of the growing carbon market.

Co-Benefits of Carbon Projects

My final takeaway from the conference is that the projects being developed worldwide provide value beyond their carbon impact. It’s sometimes easy to be consumed by the impact a particular project will have on the climate; however, there are many co-benefits to carbon projects which improve the lives of the community members in which they are situated.

The inspiring story of the Yurok Tribe highlighted the co-benefits of these projects. Panelist Javier Kinney of the Yurok Tribe described the important impacts that offset revenues provided to their local communities. The tribe has been able to finance the repurchase of ancestral territory by utilizing carbon revenues. They have also used revenues from carbon sequestration projects to support the reintroduction of two condors (North America’s largest terrestrial bird) back into their ancestral lands. The condor is a sacred species to the Yurok Tribe, and this was the first time the birds will have taken flight in their former range since 18921. Their incredible story demonstrates the power carbon projects have to change the environment and support community building.

NACW Conference Networking and Social Event


Conclusion

Being in a room with over 700 people interested in carbon markets and how they can shape the future of the climate crisis was inspirational. Participants from all across the world and from diverse industry backgrounds highlighted the increasing interest in the market. As highlighted at the conference, with increased interest comes increased scrutiny.

NACW was a great reminder of the importance of the fundamentals of project development in the carbon market. To ensure market integrity, we must remain vigilant regarding the types of projects we engage in. Demonstration of additionality, leakage considerations, and carbon storage permanence are always key factors in our decision to develop a project. The conference also highlighted aspects such as co-benefits that project developers should be searching for and creating through their project implementation.

As our project portfolio expands, ClimeCo’s project development team continues to implement processes to ensure high quality and transparency. This includes registering projects with highly trusted carbon registries, engaging with broad stakeholder groups, developing publicly available project description documents, and verifications through independent auditing bodies. These fundamentals were always the core of our project development, and the conference confirmed their importance to market integrity.

Our projects have the potential to improve the communities and ecosystems of so many places around the world. ClimeCo’s Project Development Team is committed to developing high-quality carbon projects. Our core value of strong engagement with our project partners, local stakeholders, carbon registries, and credit buyers elevates the quality and transparency in which our projects operate. We’re looking forward to participating in the growth to come and supporting initiatives that maintain the integrity of the markets.


About the Author

Greg Cesare is the Director of Project Management within ClimeCo’s Project Development Team. He is located in State College, PA. Greg and the Project Management team provide implementation and long-term management of ClimeCo’s portfolio of environmental commodity projects.

What Are Sustainable Development Goals and How Can You Assess Their Impact?

What Are Sustainable Development Goals and How Can You Assess Their Impact?

What Are Sustainable Development Goals and How Can You Assess Their Impact?


by: Stephanie Hefelfinger and Rebecca Stoops | January 19, 2022

The WaY Project - Women with health insurance

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a popular topic worldwide, and you’ve probably seen organizations displaying their SDG contributions with these colorful icons. How are they justifying their SDG claims? How can you feel confident when purchasing credits, and what are the levels of assurance for SDG claims? What tools do professionals use to analyze their projects? 

What are SDGs?

The SDGs are 17 key issues that projects, businesses, and governments must target to improve the world by 2030. They were created by the United Nations (UN) Development Program and include targets like No Poverty, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Clean Water and Sanitation.  

Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs interconnect together

This diagram shows how all SDGs are interlinked and depend on each other. Image source: How food connects all the SDGs – Stockholm Resilience Centre 

Case Study of The WaY Project and Available SDG Tools 

In the voluntary credit market, plastic credits have been established to represent 1 metric ton of plastic waste collected from the environment. Projects like this can also offer other benefits that improve the community’s well-being and the environment – these benefits can align with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The WaY (Women and Youth) plastic collection project in Cote d’Ivoire, developed by Conceptos Plásticos, collects plastic waste that would have otherwise been left in the environment. The plastic is turned into construction bricks, which are used to build schools for local communities. The project focuses on hiring women to increase empowerment and economic opportunities for a heavily underserved population. ClimeCo is partnering with the WaY Project to generate plastic credits from its plastic collection activities.  

It is essential for an organization to provide a good faith effort when presenting their SDG impact claims. When purchasing credits from a project with these claims, we highly recommend that you contact them and ask what steps they took to assess their SDG impact. To help you with this, let us walk you through the public SDG tools we used to determine our project’s biggest SDG benefits.  

The Tools

The SDG Impact Assessment Manager Tool is a free resource developed by the UN Global Compact and B Lab. The SDG Impact Assessment Manager Tool measures a project’s current impact and helps identify which SDGs have the greatest opportunity for improvement, with straightforward suggestions for actual changes. Think of this as an SDG personality quiz for a project.   

This is an example of a question from SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities, as well as SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: 

SDG Impact Assessment Question Example

The SDG Compass was developed by the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Since the UN developed the SDGs at an international and country level, it can be hard to understand how they relate to smallerscale projects. This tool translates each SDG and all the targets into manageable and realistic goals that a project can achieve. The SDG Compass recommends prioritizing SDGs that could potentially affect human rights.  

The Outcome of Our Efforts 

We started with the SDG Impact Assessment Manager ToolThis requires the completion of 15-30 questions for each SDG, which usually takes a few hours to completeThe higher the score percentage (see below), the higher the impact on the goal. While The WaY Project has a positive effect on many SDGs, the results of this tool demonstrate that the largest impact is on SDGs 1, 4, 5, 9, and 10.  

The WaY Project's SDGs Impact Assessment

Next, we used the SDG Compass to study each SDG in greater detailThis explains how our project intends to actively meet the relevant SDGs. 

SDG Compass - How our project intends to actively meet the relevant SDGs.

Next, we created a diagram to see what parts of our project are directly quantifiable and measurable. All impacts are important, but its easier to prove and certify measurable impacts. Gold Standard recommends this step through their tool.

Gold Standard Tool - prove and certify quantifiable and measurable impacts.

Leveraging all three tools, we can see where our project has the biggest impactWe’ve also determined where we can improve. For example, The WaY project should continue encouraging women to use the provided Proper Protective Equipment (PPE) and work with the women to choose improved PPE offerings that fit their cultural attire 

Côte d'Ivoire - The WaY Project

Conclusion 

For those who want greater assurance on SDG claims, there are several credit registries that offer credits with SDG impacts that a 3rd party has verified – Gold Standardthe American Carbon Registrythe Climate Action Reserve, and Verra. At ClimeCo, we want clients to feel confident in our projects and their SDG claimsWe are here to educate and be a resource for understanding SDG claims, finding the right projects for clients’ ESG goals, and helping new projects develop their SDG claims. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions; we are happy to help.

ClimeCo - SDGs certified under Gold Standard

This is an example of certified SDGs from a project listed under Gold Standard’s registry. 


About the Author

Rebecca Stoops is a Project Manager at ClimeCo, focusing on plastic credit projects and refrigerant projects for carbon credits. She enjoys hiking, the great outdoors, and cleaning up nature by picking up trash. Stephanie Hefelfinger is a Project Associate at ClimeCo, focusing on plastic credit projects and livestock and composting projects for carbon credits. She enjoys hunting for pretty rocksThey both enjoy getting into the nittygritty details of projects to learn how they operate and their positive impacts on the environment. 

ClimeCo is Selected as Project Developer of the Year

ClimeCo is Selected as Project Developer of the Year

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Nancy Marshall, Marketing Director
864-266-1210 or nmarshall@climeco.com

ClimeCo is Selected as Project Developer of the Year

 

ClimeCo Corporation (ClimeCo) is pleased to announce its selection as Project Developer of the Year by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), in recognition for the Most Registered Carbon Offset Projects in 2018.

CAR, North America’s premier carbon offset registry, presented the award to ClimeCo Corporation during CAR’s North American Carbon World (NACW) 2019 annual conference, which is currently being held in Los Angeles, CA, through April 26.  Award recipients are nominated based upon their demonstration of leadership in advancing climate solutions and strengthening carbon markets through the development of successful carbon offset projects that achieve real, quantifiable, verifiable, additional, and permanent emissions reductions.

“ClimeCo is celebrating ten years in business this year and to receive an award like this from CAR is a great gift,” said Bill Flederbach, President & CEO of ClimeCo.  “I am very proud of the team we have built over the last 10 years, our culture, our clients, the incredible volumes of greenhouse gases that we’ve reduced, and us being the leading producer of carbon credits within CAR.”

ClimeCo has worked with CAR for the past 10 years and has registered more than 16 million carbon offsets.  Their offset volume stems from reducing greenhouse gas emissions through several project types, including N2O Abatement, Destruction of Ozone Depleting Substances, Agricultural Methane Capture, and Organic Waste Composting.  It is the combination of their clients, their diversification, and the dedication of their project team that has allowed them to be the leader in carbon offset project development.

“CAR has been a tremendous partner for ClimeCo over the years,” said Derek Six, Chief Business Officer of ClimeCo.  “Their dedication to creating high-quality protocols and ensuring a crediting program of the utmost integrity aligns well with ClimeCo’s core values.  We are proud to be implementing creative and innovative emission reduction projects, and very much appreciate this recognition for our efforts.”

ClimeCo is an advisor, broker, and developer of both voluntary and compliance grade environmental commodity market products, with specialized expertise in California cap-and-trade, market advisory, transactional services, and project financing.

To learn more about ClimeCo, how you can be a part of this growing business or how your company can benefit, visit us at www.climeco.com or contact us here.

ClimeCo Corporation is a respected project developer, advisor and trader of environmental commodity market products. Specialized expertise in regional criteria pollutant trading programs, California cap‐and‐trade, voluntary markets and project development and financing of internal CO2 abatement systems complement ClimeCo’s diverse commodity portfolio. Within the Climate Action Reserve, ClimeCo is the largest developer of U.S. GHG‐offset projects and producer of U.S. voluntary carbon offsets, managing projects that reduce more than four million tonnes of CO2e per year. For info, contact 484‐415-0501, nmarshall@climeco.com or dpingitore@climeco.com.

ClimeCo Selected by the Climate Action Reserve as the 2017 Project Developer of the Year

ClimeCo Selected by the Climate Action Reserve as the 2017 Project Developer of the Year

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Contact: Nancy Fuchs Marshall, Environmental Market Specialist
(484) 415‐0501 or nmarshall@climeco.com

ClimeCo Selected by the Climate Action Reserve as the 2017 Project Developer of the Year

April 5, 2018 (BOYERTOWN, PA) ‐ ClimeCo Corporation (ClimeCo) is pleased to announce its selection as Project Developer of the Year by the Climate Action Reserve, in recognition for the Most Registered Carbon Offset Projects in 2017. The Climate Action Reserve (CAR), North America’s premier carbon offset registry, presented the 2017 Project Developer of the Year Award for the Most Registered Projects, to ClimeCo Corporation during CAR’s Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) annual conference, which is being held in San Francisco, CA, April 4‐6. Award recipients are nominated based upon their demonstration of leadership to advance climate solutions and strengthen carbon markets through the development of successful carbon offset projects that achieve real, quantifiable, verifiable, additional, and permanent emissions reductions.

“ClimeCo is proud to have registered the most projects in 2017. We are passionate about creating corporate strategies that leverage scalable GHG reductions, it is the heart of our company’s mission,” said Bill Flederbach, President & CEO of ClimeCo. “ClimeCo is making a difference today, for a better world tomorrow.”

ClimeCo has worked with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) for the past years and has registered more than 15 million carbon offsets across 172 reporting periods. Our offset volume stems from reducing greenhouse gas emissions through several project types, to include N2O Abatement, Destruction of Ozone Depleting Substances, Agricultural Methane Capture, and Organic Waste Composting. It is the combination of our clients, our diversification and the dedication of our project team that has allowed us to be the leader in carbon offset project development. “It is critical to ClimeCo that our carbon offsets have the highest level of credibility. CAR has an excellent reputation for developing high quality protocols and for rigorously reviewing project submittals and verifications,” said Derek Six, Senior Vice President of ClimeCo. “We are excited to continue working with CAR and our clients on innovative new projects, protocols and methodologies to further demonstrate the effectiveness of market‐based solutions to environmental challenges.”

ClimeCo Corporation is a respected project developer, advisor and trader of environmental commodity market products. Specialized expertise in regional criteria pollutant trading programs, California cap‐and‐trade, voluntary markets and project development and financing of internal CO2 abatement systems complement ClimeCo’s diverse commodity portfolio. Within the Climate Action Reserve, ClimeCo is the largest developer of U.S. GHG‐offset projects and producer of U.S. voluntary carbon offsets, managing projects that reduce more than four million tonnes of CO2e per year. For information, contact 484‐415‐0501 or nmarshall@climeco.com.