Glossary

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. 

Experiencing COP26

Experiencing COP26

Experiencing COP26


by: Zach Harmer | Strategic Policy & Markets Manager | November 30, 2021

 
Experiencing COP26

I had the honor of attending the Conference of Parties 26th (COP26) meeting in Glasgow, UK, on behalf of ClimeCo. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to see how Glasgow had wholly transformed to facilitate the arrival of over 30,000 participants. From airport and train station signage to rapid antigen test procurement sites spread throughout the city, it’s safe to say that there was much preparation to ensure the welcome for the global community was as smooth as possible. The effort put forth allowed attendees to focus on the power of coming together to discuss and make climate commitments.

About COP26

If you are unfamiliar with COP26, it is a United Nationals Climate Change conference that brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is organized into three core areas: the Blue Zone, the Green Zone, and then side events, such as the New York Times Climate Hub (NYT Hub). The Blue Zone is dedicated for delegates and select leaders of the business world to provide space for the negotiations that led to the agreement on the Glasgow Pact. The Green Zone is open to the public, focusing on education and a plethora of side events that offered the opportunity to listen to world-renowned speakers and network with other attendees.


My Favorite Speaker


I was excited to be able to attend the Green Zone as well as several side events. Of the various presentations I attended, the one speaker that resonated with me the most, Vanessa Nakate, spoke on a panel at the NYT Hub. If you have never heard of Vanessa, she is well known as a climate activist from Uganda. She is the founder of the Rise up Climate Movement, which aims to amplify the voices of activists from Africa. During her presentation, Vanessa provided the following powerful statement on global temperature rise: 

“It’s important for people to know that even at 1.2 degrees, it has been hell for so many communities in my country… the climate crisis has been ravaging vast parts of the African continent, many people have lost their farms, many people are losing their businesses, many people have lost their lives… this is what is happening at 1.2. The weather patterns are changing, they’re being disrupted… this is one of the disconnections that I have been talking about. We think that 1.5 is our salvation, and yet, still at 1.5, it won’t be safe for very many communities.” NYT, Full Recording of Session 

To me, her comment brings light to a common misconception that I see frequently in the media – that limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels is not a universal solution to climate change. The 1.5 degrees is a threshold defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that, if crossed, will bring “catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change.” (Check out ClimeCo’s recent blog on the Key Takeaways from the most recent IPCC report).

Many of the world’s most vulnerable populations are already experiencing significant effects from the global temperature rise, which further emphasizes the urgency of the worldwide community to work together to reduce emissions and support those in need.

My Key Takeaways From The Pact

The Glasgow Climate Pact (Pact) was underscored by a commitment by all parties to the 1.5-degree target. With that, there is an urgent need to drastically scale up funding for developing countries to assist with the costs associated with mitigation and adaptation for climate change. Additionally, for the first time, there was an explicit reference for the need to phase out fossil fuel usage, though the requirement for coal was downgraded from a “phase-out” to a “phase-down” at the last minute due to pressures from China and India. 

Another notable outcome from the Pact was the announcement of the intention to form a stand-alone organization to provide financial support and technical advice to developing countries seeking to mitigate loss and damages from climate change. Despite some of the successes of COP26, participant countries were unable to deliver on the $100 billion climate finance target set in the year leading up to COP26. In response, members of the Pact committed to reaching the $100 billion target and to match the amount annually up until 2025.1 Alongside the commitments was the agreement on the rules of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.


Article 6 Overview

A significant achievement of the Glasgow Pact was the approval of the rules for implementing Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement. Article 6 was ratified in 2016 along with the rest of the Paris Agreement; however, agreeing on the rules for implementation proved to be a challenging exercise. The main components of the Article are briefly highlighted below: 

  • Article 6.2: establishes an accounting framework for country-level cooperation. The purpose of this article is for linking the emissions-trading schemes of two or more countries (but not for business-level transactions). This “treaty” framework will also allow the international transfer of Internationally Traded Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs). 
  • Article 6.4: establishes a United Nations-centralized mechanism to trade emission reduction credits (referred to as “A6.4ERs”) generated through projects that will contribute to reducing emissions in developing countries. This mechanism would issue A6.4ERs to developers of clean energy projects, where the developers can either be foreign countries or private entities. 
  • Article 6.8: is meant to guide the implementation of the framework for non-market approaches in implementing parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Article 6.8 is not instrumental in the implementation of an emission trading system. Examples include, but are not limited to, the application of taxes or other relevant initiatives to discourage emissions.  

Conclusions

It is no easy feat to bring over 200 delegates together from around the world in a time where COVID-19 is ever-present, let alone to get all delegates to agree on a plan to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Though there may be criticisms from both sides on the intricacies of the Pact, progress has been made on one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced as a global community. As I reflect on my visit to COP26, I am left with these two thoughts: 

  1. No action is too small; everything starts with the individual. Every action you can take to reduce your emissions and waste footprint helps. I encourage you to look into actions you can take to reduce your daily footprint, such as reviewing your city’s waste, organics and recycling rules. 
  2. Climate change is here and is already affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations. We must continue to encourage our leaders to drive emissions reductions from both inside and outside their borders. 

It will be interesting to see what the delegates of our world will do to meet the commitments they made at COP26. At ClimeCo, we strive to continually work with our partners to reduce emissions and go beyond business-as-usual. I am looking forward to helping our partners navigate the multiple paths available to them to reach their goals/commitments.  

 
Watch #TeamClimeCo at COP26 on our Instagram.


About the Author

Zach Harmer is the Strategic Policy and Markets Manager at ClimeCo Canada, based in the Calgary office. At ClimeCo, Zach leads the tracking and analyses of regulatory and market updates in California and Canada’s carbon programs. Zach earned his Master of Public Policy from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in Political Science and French Language and Literature.

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo is passionate about making the world a better place. We are a proud sponsor of the 2021 North American Carbon World (NACW) Conference and are ready to help you reach your net-zero goals.  Watch our NACW video below to learn more. 

 

ClimeCo is honored to be a Platinum Sponsor of the 2021 NACW Virtual Conference! This year’s conference will explore the progress of climate policy, carbon markets, climate finance, and natural climate solutions in North America.

ClimeCo will also be participating in two sessions during the conference. Our Chief Business Officer, Derek Six, will be speaking at the “Building a Larger Carbon Credit Market from Within” plenary session on April 27 at 10:30 AM PST, and our Program Development Director, Lauren Mechak, will be speaking on the “Opportunities to Expand Climate Mitigation Via New Offset Protocols” panel on April 28 at 11 AM PST.

About ClimeCo 

ClimeCo is a respected advisor, transaction facilitator, and trader of environmental commodity market products and related services. We specialize in voluntary carbon, regulated carbon, renewable energy credits, plastics credits, and regional criteria pollutant trading programs.  Complimenting these programs is a team of professionals skilled in providing sustainability program management services, and developing and financing of GHG abatement and mitigation systems.

For more information or to discuss how ClimeCo can drive value for your organization, contact us at 484.415.0501, info@climeco.com, or through our website climeco.com. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using our handle, @ClimeCo.

A Chat About Sustainability

A Chat About Sustainability

A Chat About Sustainability


by Kendall Bedford, Project Manager | March 31, 2021


Background

This blog flourished while two ClimeCo colleagues sat down to enjoy a virtual cup of joe while discussing a topic that inspires them – Sustainability.

Long-time Project Manager (and part-time master’s student), Kendall Bedford, and her team leader, Emily Damon, VP of Sustainability, Policy and Advisory discussed what they love about sustainability and what they see in the marketplace. Their responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.



A Journey in Sustainability

To some, “Sustainability” can be a loaded word due to its multiple definitions and implications in the business world. For myself, it simply implies an opportunity to ensure longevity within our society for our peers, our planet, and our work. As a young professional and master’s student, these topics are meaningful to me. Through the work I am currently doing at ClimeCo, and Sustainability’s intersection with Business, which I am studying at UPenn, I hope to become a future leader in this space and help to unite various priorities and people while working to create real progress under a shared goal.

Today, I am speaking to a leader who is impacting the sustainability field, and one I am lucky to call my teammate, Emily Damon. Below, Emily and I discuss her previous work in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) space and why she continues to enjoy it, the challenges she encounters, and how this space has evolved and will continue to change over time.

Kendall: So, let’s start off with you telling me a little bit about yourself and why you chose to build a career in the sustainability field.

Emily:  I suppose the short answer is … *laughs* …frisbee. I played competitive ultimate frisbee for most of my life, and I chose my college so that I could play for one of the best women’s teams. Then I chose my major based on my teammates. Many of them were majoring in Earth Systems, an interdisciplinary degree with a focus on climate change. I liked science and cared about climate change, so I gave that a try. I ended up liking the engineering approach to climate change even more, so I shifted over partway through. I have stayed in this field because I’m making an impact, learning new things, and working with teams. The daily work gives me a steady drip of optimism for the future.

Kendall:  I completely get that. As someone who is in school for this subject now, it’s nice preparing to work in an evolving field! You’ve been working in this space for a significant amount of time, how has your perspective on ESG work changed?

Emily:  When I finished my degree, I felt that the solutions for climate change were clear. Over time, I have come to appreciate that seeing the optimal solution is only half the battle. Getting very-human business mechanisms to change is hard, slow, and important work. It can feel sluggish, but I think it’s the kind of change that sticks around.

Kendall:  What about the field itself – how have you seen that develop over time? Do you think the changes have been for the better?

Emily:  When I first started out doing this work, I was often supporting a smaller, independent sustainability department within organizations. Within the last 4-5 years, their ties to the rest of the company, especially to the C-Suite, have grown significantly. I think that’s a wonderful thing! It acknowledges that the drivers for sustainability are more significant, and the benefits of pursuing sustainability are more obvious.

Kendall:  I love that! Buy-in from executive leadership and company board members is something we discuss in class all the time; it’s so important because it offers credibility to the work the sustainability teams are doing and can even help garner more support from stakeholders.

Emily:  You know, without the ties to the C-Suite, smaller teams could sometimes be more nimble, at least when it came to things like measuring impacts, reporting, and making small commitments. But the connections to the leadership became essential when those sustainability teams were ready to change the organization’s behavior and needed funding for projects. As connections to leadership strengthen, processes change and new governance takes shape. It can sometimes seem as if things have slowed down, but it’s usually just a phase of growing pains. It’s an interesting dynamic! *laughs*

Kendall:  When it comes to sustainability and communication, especially now that you get to work with more organizations with a higher-level team, there are many different definitions for sustainability floating around, and it can be a “triggering” term for some. How do you level the playing field and communicate sustainability (the idea) to your teams and clients?

Emily:  I start with a very broad definition and with the understanding that any company I’m working with probably has its own, so I’m flexible. ESG is what I see typically falling under a company’s sustainability umbrella. To me, it’s a logical review of everything a company touches. So, what are our impacts on the planet (E) and on people (S), and how have we set up our structures and processes to ensure we can be improving those impacts (G)?

Kendall:  That being said, something I’ve heard is that it’s a bit harder for companies to wrap their head around certain aspects of ESG work. In your experience, what has been the hardest concept for a business to learn about and improve on?

Emily:  This is one with a lot of variety. It’s a common story to get on the phone with someone who started out working in an environmental role and then had a sustainability role pushed their way. That trajectory can leave companies with a blind spot regarding stakeholder’s “S” and “G” expectations.

Kendall:  What do you recommend to those who find themselves in this position?

Emily:  Even when companies have things like great employee training programs or hiring practices designed to increase workforce diversity, these initiatives aren’t always linked with the sustainability program. One thing that can often help a company in this position is a materiality assessment, a structured process for looking at a wide range of possible sustainability topics and determining the company’s priorities based on a diverse set of stakeholder perspectives.

Kendall:  Why do you think ClimeCo is uniquely positioned to participate in this kind of work?

Emily:  Oh, I think ClimeCo is in an amazing position to help companies with sustainability! Companies have a lot that they need to be doing right now, from communicating their progress or measuring their impacts to creating new strategies and executing them across the ESG space. What’s unique to ClimeCo is that we can support companies through more of these steps than other firms can. We have teams that advise, measure, and communicate, but also teams that can execute by developing emission reduction projects or transacting environmental commodities. It’s a natural progression! Many companies are doing each of those things, but none do all three as well as we do.

Closing Thoughts

In the classroom and at the office, Sustainability has been an almost constant discussion subject for me within the past year. In speaking with Emily, not only was I able to validate some of my suspicions about how broad-reaching and impactful the ESG field can be, but I was able to confirm my beliefs about the exciting work I have gotten to do at ClimeCo.  In my (almost) four years of working here, the idea of “we can do it all, and do it well” has rung true. Even more so now, I am exceptionally excited about everything that the team, and Emily with her expertise and passion, will be able to accomplish in this space.

To find out more about the ClimeCo’s Sustainability, Policy and Advisory team’s great work, please contact us by visiting, www.climeco.com.


About the Author

Kendall Bedford started off at ClimeCo in 2017 specializing in managing the data associated with ClimeCo’s extensive network of biogas destruction projects. She now dedicates her expertise to the team in the form of assisting with Sustainability consulting work and working closely with the environmental crediting process. She is currently pursuing a dual degree Master’s in Environmental Studies and MBA at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Creating Carbon Offsets – It Starts With A Methodology

Creating Carbon Offsets – It Starts With A Methodology

Creating Carbon Offsets – It Starts With A Methodology


by David Priddy, VP of Business Development | February 24, 2021


With the continued push by businesses in recent years to establish more stringent sustainability goals with lower GHG thresholds, there’s been a corresponding rush by corporations, project developers, technology providers, and charitable foundations to implement emission reduction solutions to help meet this growing demand.  This has led to a plethora of innovative ideas and concepts from entities seeking to utilize carbon financing to bring their ideas to life.  As a leader in the carbon emission reduction and sequestration space, ClimeCo will frequently field requests on how to implement these ideas to generate and sell carbon offsets, which incentivizes continued investment in project activities that deliver emission reductions.  But after listening to entities pitch their ideas, the question that I most often hear is:  “Can we create carbon offsets?”  Well, the answer to that question can depend on many factors, but it all starts with an appropriate methodology.


Carbon Offset Methodologies

A carbon offset methodology is a framework document that defines the quantification and parameters that are required to generate carbon offsets throughout the life of a project. It establishes the project’s baseline, identifies qualifying practice changes to reduce carbon, and defines the monitoring requirements necessary to ensure that the reductions are real, quantifiable, verifiable, and additional to what would have happened in the absence of the project.

There are seemingly as many different offset methodologies available today as there are carbon reduction project ideas, but continuous innovation in this space keeps challenging that theory.  Voluntary registries, along with those carbon compliance programs that allow for the use of offsets, generally utilize their own protocols and methodologies.  In the North American voluntary market, we primarily work with three voluntary offset registries:  The Climate Action Reserve (CAR), American Carbon Registry (ACR), and Verra; these three registries offer more than 100 established methodologies.  Most of these existing methodologies can be classified into one of several primary categories, including industrial, agricultural, energy efficiency, waste, transportation, and renewable energy; however, the requirements for a particular methodology are usually written for a specific project activity, such that there is little room for interpretation or variance.  This often results in the need to modify an existing methodology or create a new one to support a proposed project’s activities if those activities do not precisely fit the parameters of an existing methodology.


Methodology Development

To ensure the integrity of carbon offsets, credible methodologies employ best practices based on the ISO 14064 standard, providing guidelines for quantifying, monitoring, reporting, and verifying GHG emissions and reductions.  These standards require that each project conducted under a methodology is calculated in a way that is relevant, complete, consistent, accurate, and transparent, and meets the aforementioned key crediting criteria (real, quantifiable, verifiable, and additional).  Therefore, the development of a new methodology requires a significant amount of input from the scientific community and various stakeholders, including industry groups, NGOs, and the legal and environmental justice communities.  The process can be lengthy and will typically include an individual proponent or group that authors the draft methodology, the formation of a stakeholder working group that provides technical and legal review, and a public comment period.  In our experience, it is quite common for a methodology development effort to take at least 12 months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to complete. 


Lessons Learned

The ClimeCo team has been involved in developing several project methodologies, either as an author/co-author or by serving on a working group.  Our experience ranges from methodologies focused on industrial gases, such as the destruction of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and the abatement of nitrous oxide (N2O) from Nitric Acid and Adipic Acid production, to avoided methane emissions from organic waste composting and agricultural methane destruction.  We are also working with clients on the development of some new methodologies that hold significant promise.  Through all of this, we have learned that the process is best served by a collaborative and transparent effort between the project proponent and the registry that balances scientific integrity, conservativeness, and financial viability to ensure a robust, practical, and defensible methodology.


The Bottom Line

As companies continue to ratchet down on their GHG commitments, the voluntary carbon market is poised for significant growth.  Buyers in this market have become increasingly savvy; they are demanding more from the offset projects they support, including a sharper focus on those that align with their businesses and produce various co-benefits.  This opens opportunities for creative thinking and project innovation in areas that existing offset methodologies may not serve.  To maximize the potential for success, a project owner/proponent should align themselves with an experienced consultant like ClimeCo to guide them through this process.


About the Author

Dave Priddy is ClimeCo’s Vice President of Business Development.  He has more than 30 years of experience in the environmental management field and is responsible for the firm’s strategic market initiatives and the evaluation of new project opportunities.  David holds a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.