4 January 2024 by Phoenix Davies
A global push for sustainability has given rise to developments in the carbon credit and biodiversity industry. High quality carbon credits, and projects that focus on strengthening biodiversity are key in the fight against climate change and offer businesses and individuals a way to invest in nature. The purchasing of such credits are important to drive ecological restoration and protection of areas worldwide. When choosing and investing in projects, it is vital that the projects chosen are designed and implemented in the right conditions to avoid pitfalls and ensure that real action is being taken.
Greenwashing can often be clear and indisputable; however, claims can also be cloaked and harder to discern. Companies and individuals globally are pushing the carbon and biodiversity industry to ensure that higher quality, measurable and real, significant local benefits are obtained. Whilst rePLANET is developing and implementing projects that produce high quality credits, there are still low-quality credits on the market that lack credibility and transparency, which are important tenants in this evolving industry. Project developers and investors must aim for high quality credits, to avoid greenwashing of claims, and shine light on the great work that many project developers, local communities and investors are undertaking.
Not all credits and environmental claims are created equally. It is important when looking at a project to understand and evaluate the quality of the credits, and in this the true environmental and social impact. An analysis of the biodiversity credit market published by BloombergNEF, and reported in Carbon Pulse, gave rePLANET full marks in each category, against a framework of additionality, permanence, transparency, scalability, and integrity of measurement criteria. Transparent, publicly available analysis is important in increasing trust in the industry, and combatting the notion that all credits are created equally, thus working to avoid greenwashing of claims. These key pillars of high-quality projects are what rePLANET strive to deliver. Greenwashing can thrive in ambiguous claims and deceptive marketing. To combat greenwashing, transparency is key, and restoration and protection projects should provide, clear and accessible information on socio-economic benefits to local communities, methodologies, and progress. rePLANET will continue to work to ensure our projects are transparent and accessible to ensure integrity of project claims. Effective education is also pivotal in empowering stakeholders to make informed decisions and drive high quality projects in the market. To avoid greenwashing of project claims, everyone has a role in demanding transparency and honesty.
In the case of reforestation projects, projects must demonstrate that the efforts of restoration go beyond what would naturally occur and measure accurately the impact of the interventions to avoid greenwashing pitfalls. It is also vital that projects that develop high quality carbon credits are also focussing on promoting biodiversity. Resilience comes from diverse ecosystems and contributes to the overall ecosystem health and ecosystem services for the many that inhabit areas where projects reside. A key principle of rePLANET projects, is that local stakeholders (owners, users or managers of the site being restored or protected) receive at least 60% of the issuance price of both carbon and biodiversity credits. Local stakeholders must have an equitable share of the financial benefits from the sale of carbon and biodiversity credits to ensure that the restoration or protection of the areas will continue long after the lifetime of the project. The fostering of a sense of ownership of the project and ensuring that benefits extend beyond the project period is key in driving long term, effective, and positive change.
Carbon and biodiversity credits will play an ever-increasing role in the fight against climate change and species loss. The industry, and wider community, must confront the challenge of greenwashing. Carbon and biodiversity projects have a place in improving the biodiversity and carbon sink of our planet and are an effective tool for ecosystem restoration and protection. Transparency, measurable environmental and socio-economic impacts, awareness, and education, through the development of high-quality projects will drive the protection and restoration of ecosystems globally. As stakeholders, we must all ensure we are remaining vigilant to advance a carbon and biodiversity credit community that makes a real positive impact.