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Following the publication today of an article attacking REDD+ projects and airlines purchasing carbon credits, EcoAct shares concern over inaccurate claims. This undermining of a proven framework based on unreliable evidence and an inaccurate interpretation of methodologies is deeply concerning and risks causing real damage to forest conservation projects and beneficiary communities.
What is REDD+?
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is an international mechanism launched in 2008 by the UN, to provide economic incentives for countries to protect sensitive areas from degradation and deforestation. REDD+ places an economic value on forests and thus provides an incentive to invest in their conservation. Through sound methodologies and rigorous certification, REDD+ programmes reward, through carbon credits, projects that have credibly reduced emissions by avoiding deforestation. Deforestation contributes to about 20% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and REDD+ conservation projects will be a contributor to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
EcoAct partners with organisations to source credits from projects verified by internationally recognised standards, to navigate the voluntary carbon market, and support our clients in the processes of purchasing credits and retiring them on the international carbon registries. We have 15 years of experience across thousands of projects.
Working with our clients, we select the most appropriate projects for their requirements. The REDD+ projects we offer to these clients are established under a credible, thorough, and robust framework. Each of these projects establishes a baseline for the rate of deforestation and determines that this rate will be lower under the operation of the project than if the project did not exist. Establishing of the baseline, determining the project methodology and ongoing verification of the project is done through a mix of satellite imaging and on the ground studies to compile comprehensive data that reflects appropriate local forest definitions. Using satellite images alone is an insufficient view of what is happening on the ground.
The projects we support provide vital finance to protect precious carbon sinks and natural habitats that are being lost at an alarming rate and they help to stimulate sustainable development and improve livelihoods in communities around the globe that need it most.
To ensure the environmental integrity of each carbon offsetting project, we partner with independent and recognised certifying bodies and international standards that audit projects and certify their compliance. Each carbon offsetting project we offer is framed by a rigorous methodology that accounts for avoided or sequestered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is both verified and certified.
To ensure the robustness of the carbon credits being sold, we also undertake a strict, inhouse due diligence process – the EcoScore – that assesses more than 30 criteria around 7 main risks categories: political, legal, financial, communication, social, environmental, industrial. Our EcoScore allows us to select the best projects thanks to a risk management matrix designed in accordance with international standards on risk management, notably ISO 31000.
We also ensure that we visit and audit projects ourselves, through a deep on-site due diligence process and framework, to verify the reality of projects operations on the ground and impacts in the field.
We engage with the project developers and local communities to understand and verify the methodologies used to assess emissions reductions and to hear the experiences of project beneficiaries.
As a founding member of the international governing body, ICROA, we work to uphold these international standards, and this includes encouraging our clients to set ambitious emissions reductions targets alongside any offsetting programme.
All actors must act now to contribute to net zero by using every tool in our toolbox
The projects we offer at EcoAct for all our clients are robust, verifiable, and evidence emissions reductions. It is often assumed that offsetting is a means to absolve companies of further responsibilities to act. This is not the case. We continually educate our clients and partners and insist that decarbonisation in line with science is a fundamental part of a net zero pathway that requires innovation and business transformation. However, offsetting can help us take immediate action to tackle what is an urgent climate crisis, while supporting sustainable development worldwide.
We do not agree with the claims made that airlines cannot rely on REDD+ projects to make commitments about climate change. Airlines choosing to buy carbon credits from offsetting projects are doing so as part of a wider strategy to address their environmental impacts. Offsetting is an integral part of the company’s journey to net zero and tackling climate change with the urgency required. Offsetting is also a vital tool for providing finance to tackle deforestation, creating and preserving natural carbon sinks, protecting biodiversity, sharing new renewable technology and improving the health and livelihoods of millions of people who need it most.
As part of a global emissions reduction strategy, carbon offsetting is an essential tool for organisations in their strategy to fight climate change. Thus, unfounded criticism of these mechanisms means slowing down action, which urgently needs to be accelerated.