The truth about the quality of carbon credits

Carbon credits have been in the news in recent years. They will continue to do so, given the greenhouse gas (GHG) offsetting market dynamism, estimated to reach 200 billion by 2050.[1]

There is no longer any doubt in the scientific community that the drastic increase in anthropogenic GHGs is at the root of the climate crisis we are currently experiencing. Concrete measures are being put in place to limit these gases' concentration and their harmful effect on future generations, notably through the Paris Climate Agreement, signed in 2015, aiming to concert global efforts to mitigate GHG emissions.

For individuals and businesses, contributing to this effort can be challenging to navigate. Many turn to the acquisition of carbon credits, but the growing criticism of the legitimacy, quality, and truth of these complicates the purchase and satisfaction post-purchase. However, voluntary compensation is in vogue in recent years, and a rise in demand is to be expected in the market. Gold Standard, an internationally renowned organization that acts as an independent third party for the certification of carbon offset programs, has seen individual credit purchases quadrupled in 2019.[2]

There are carbon credits that are purchased voluntarily, in addition to a cap-and-trade system at the commercial level. In this second case, a company that emits less carbon than its country's legal limits can resell its excess credits to a company that exceeds this limit and could then be subject to a fine.

Some companies are subject to regulations that require them to offset their emissions with a specific type of offset credit. For example, they may be required to purchase credits from carbon offsetting projects in the same country where it is released (escaped).

What are the quality criteria for carbon credits?

Several questions and criticisms are cited when it comes to authenticating the quality of carbon credits and comparing supply in the voluntary offset market can be difficult. First, let's look at the origin of carbon sequestration. It may result from forest protection, tree planting (reforestation, for example), and for some communities, it could also be a clean-burning stove.

Kelley Kizzier, a carbon market specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund, says that "dodgy credits are plentiful, and it can be difficult to navigate the sometimes-murky waters of carbon offsetting." To get a clearer picture, here are some essential criteria to evaluate before making your choice.

These criteria are recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and generally accepted by professionals in the clearing community. These include:

  1. Additionality

    For a carbon credit to additional and therefore legitimate carbon credit, it must be added to any activity already planned. For example, suppose the offset project would have been undertaken independently of the guaranteed monetary investment through the carbon market. In that case, this is not a real compensation under the rules of this fundamental criterion.

  2. Verifiability

    Carbon reduction or sequestration must be measurable or verifiable. Certification programs act as a third party to regulate and regulate the various compensations to be legitimate according to specific criteria. In the case of reforestation projects, auditors must see with their own eyes the trees planted.

  3. Single property

    For a compensatory carbon credit to be considered a single property, it must be impossible to be double counted. Once it has been used, it will not be used a second time. Public registers, where all carbon credits are recorded, ensure the uniqueness of these credits.

  4. Permanence

    Carbon offsets must be achieved from a sustainable perspective so that the results achieved last over time.

To ensure the sound purchase of carbon credits, it is undoubtedly relevant to check the turnaround times for carbon offsets. It is a safeguard for the actual application of projects, being confident that the activities will occur, and ensuring no potential leaks by selling to surrounding forestry companies.

Certification programs

Certification programs play a significant role in the carbon market, as these entities are involved in regulating offsets. They are also called "carbon labels." Gold Standard (GS), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Green-e are third-party groups offering world-renowned certification programs that authenticate and monitor several carbon offset projects' practices. Besides, these stakeholders can also assist project developers in the design and management of these projects. They propose rigorous methodologies to obtain reliable carbon credits.

Credits offered by TreesOfLives

TreesOfLives produces carbon credits transparently and wants to ensure that they are legitimate to invest customers. By partnering with independent and internationally recognized certification programs, TreesOfLives intends to act in a way that provides accurate, measurable, verifiable and, above all, enforceable compensation. The carbon sequestration measures calculated for our land management models have been developed and validated by Nel-i, whose expertise on carbon market mechanisms is recognized worldwide.

When you invest in TreesOfLives, you help set up degraded land restoration projects that sequester carbon. With our field data connected to the investment platform by artificial intelligence, we can calculate the amount of carbon that the amount of your investment will have helped to sequester. It allows us to generate a certificate indicating the number of carbon credits you have accumulated.

Our rigorous governance and our desire to provide the highest quality carbon credits ensure that our projects help position you as a key player in the fight against climate change.


[1] https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/natural-gas/051320-global-carbon-offsets-market-could-be-worth-200-bil-by-2050-berenberg

[2] National Geographic. (2020). Carbon credits: do they really offset our CO emissions2? Spotted at: https://www.nationalgeographic.fr/environnement/2020/01/credits-carbone-compensent-t-ils-vraiment-nos-emissions-de-co2

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