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The Carbon Lowdown #28
Welcome to The Carbon Lowdown! A fortnightly newsletter from Supercritical.
🍃 Carbon removal
What is happening in the world of carbon removal?
📏 The long and the short of it
A question we are asked a lot at Supercritical is “Why can’t we just plant trees? They’re carbon removal, right?”. Many individuals start their carbon removal journey believing that afforestation/reforestation is the only viable carbon removal method… the carbon cycle tells us otherwise.
The carbon cycle has two types of carbon storage.
🪨 Long-term storage, based on geologic processes
🌳 Short-term storage, based on living things
Since the industrial revolution, we’ve been taking carbon out of long-term storage and pumping it into our atmosphere. Even if we covered the entire planet in woodland, this is still only short-term storage. We need to be putting carbon back where it came from into long-term storage. This is where technological solutions such as DAC and enhanced weathering come into play. Our friends over at Carbon Plan did a great LinkedIn post on this topic here.
📣 Instilling confidence in the carbon markets
There has been a lot of noise following the recent ICVCM and VCMI announcements (see The Carbon Lowdown #27).
Since then the ICVCM has released their full Core Carbon Principles Framework for high-integrity carbon credits and expect for the first CCP-labelled carbon credits to be on the market by the end of 2023.
To explain a bit what this means, for a credit to qualify as CCS approved it must meet the assessment on a Program level and Credit category level.
Program level is for crediting programs who register mitigation activities and issue carbon credits. This includes the likes of Verra’s VCS and the Gold Standard.
Credit category level is where each category (e.g.Agriculture Soil Carbon Sequestration) will have a set of requirements which projects within it must meet. These will be over and above the requirements for CORSIA, the UN’s offsetting mechanism for international aviation. These include exploring Robust Quantification , Permanence and Sustainable Development Benefits.
ICVCM plans to have a suite of working groups to discuss different aspects of the CCPs, which will be an evolving framework. See further explainer from Sylvera here.
We hope that the work of the ICVCM and VCMI can instil confidence in the high quality carbon removal market and give confidence to companies that they are actively supporting genuine climate action. As Erik Wihlborg from Klimate says;
“Supporting carbon removal projects beyond our own value chain, so-called beyond value chain mitigation (BVCM), provides an opportunity to move away from empty carbon neutral promises and into genuine climate action that actively supports removing carbon from the atmosphere.”
Could not have said it better ourselves! It is time for companies to reduce and invest in high quality carbon removal to get this industry up and running to the scale which is required in all climate scenarios from 2050.
🇺🇸 Carbon removals newest big customer
The US government have announced they will directly procure credits from carbon removal projects through a first-of-its-kind program managed by the Department of Energy. This is a big move as here the US government have positioned themselves as a customer. Never before has any government paid to remove climate pollution from the atmosphere and it is hoped this will set the precedent that carbon dioxide is a manageable waste product. The government has previously used its power as a purchaser to speed up the development of semiconductors, titanium, and most recently, COVID-19 vaccines. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and what the criteria they use is to purchase carbon removal and the impact this will have on the industry (particularly around permanence).
🔗 🚗 Mini links: Carbon removal
📈 CDR.fyi have released their mid year report, exploring market trends in purchasing carbon removal. One stand out → 2023 has had a strong growth of 4.4x compared to 2022 full year!
👥 Gold Standard and GGGI announce development of world’s first programme for certification and crediting of policy approaches under Gold Standard for the Global Goals.
📃 Carbon Direct’s IPCC Report on carbon removal also rings true to our view and mission
🪵 UK biochar update - The Biochar Demonstrator has announced it’s first round of Flexible Fund Early Career Researcher projects
🌎 Climate and Net Zero
What is happening in the world of climate and net zero?
🆕 The new kid on the block, how does the new ISSB standard fit in?
It may feel like just another standard, but Mike Hayes, Global Head of Climate Change & Decarbonisation, KPMG argues the ISSB is the cusp of a new more decisive era for climate disclosures. This new global set of standards is designed to finally shift the dial away from confusion and regulatory disparities toward an agreed framework – making it far easier for businesses to genuinely challenge themselves and for investors to make informed decisions on who best reflects their ambitions to invest in sustainable organisations.
As a result of the ISSB, the UK are due to create the UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards (SDS) for companies to report on sustainability and climate related risks, which will be based on the ISSB standard
🔥 UK government is causing a bit of a wave over recent moves to support new oil and gas licenses
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reaffirmed support to grant hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences as part of an ongoing exploration round. The licenses are due to be granted in September.
Sunak said: "Even when we reach net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will still come from oil and gas and domestic gas production has about a quarter or a third of the carbon footprint of imported gas."
However many are criticising the move, saying it is hypocritical and inconsistent with UK climate policy. An interesting report from Channel 4 highlights some key issues with this. The UK currently extracts more oil than we need, and 80% of it is exported. Much of the North Sea gas will be extracted by multinational companies from countries including Norway, UAE and China, and will be traded internationally. It doesn’t quite seems consistent to a transition to a low carbon economy….
🥵 The era of global boiling has arrived…as scary as it sounds
“Climate change is here, it is terrifying, and it is just the beginning. The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”
The speech (well worth a watch) by the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, is a wake up call after what will go down as the hottest month in human history. Here are a set of graphs which show this worrying increase with ocean temperature on the rise as well.
🔗 🚗 Mini links: Climate
🌊 The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is in it’s weakest state for the past millennium. Growing evidence points to it’s tipping point fast approaching…
🌳 Led by the Amazon, rainforest countries have signed a pact to demand developed countries help pay poorer nations combat climate change and preserve biodiversity
New partnerships, fundraises and exciting initiatives going on in carbon removal!
🏦 JP Morgan ‘Trying to Lead’ In Carbon Removal
JP Morgan recently announced they are planning to join the likes of Microsoft, Stripe and Spotify in kick starting the carbon removal markets.
🔦 Carbon removal project spotlight
A fun and innovative carbon removal project to highlight
Carba use an innovative biomass torrefaction and burial low-energy technology that removes carbon permanently. Simply put, they bury stable forms of carbon (from biomass) in anoxic zones. They say this solution is extremely scalable and plan to capture and sequester a gigatonne of carbon per year by 2035. Check out their scientific paper here.
Fi is a Climate Consultant at Supercritical with a MSc in Climate Change from King's College.
Tom specialises in selling carbon removal at Supercritical and hosts The Carbon Removal Show podcast.
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