Carbon markets provide a crucial opportunity to channel funding to the most needed climate solutions. It is one of the primary avenues available today that can mobilise private sector finance at the speed and scale necessary to help mitigate climate change.
Through carbon markets, companies at any stage in their sustainability journey can contribute to global climate goals by purchasing high-quality credits generated by impactful projects. These projects can range from the preservation of natural carbon sinks – such as protecting tropical forests – to funding the technological innovations needed to reach global net zero by mid-century.
Nevertheless, not all carbon credits are created equal. Increasing access to high-quality credits – those that make a genuine impact – is therefore of utmost importance. The market continues to evolve and improve, but meaningful change does not happen overnight. Any carbon project, regardless of region and whether natural or engineered, comes with uncertainty.
Given the global climate emergency, the bigger risk would be to wait for perfection rather than contributing to action today. Already, several climate tipping points have been breached – coral reefs have started to die off and Antarctica ice sheets are collapsing at a pace of up to 600 metres each day. We are running out of time, and inaction will have irreversible and disastrous consequences.
CIX aims to meet the market where it is at. We curate quality credits and strive to create an environment for companies to transact with confidence. We advocate for companies to procure credits as part of a broader sustainability strategy, and to be transparent about what they are purchasing and for what purpose. Buyers should feel proud to be stepping up to the fight against climate change.
CIX is here to provide trust for that first step.
To us, quality means that credits we choose to list deliver meaningful climate impacts. Such credits must be underpinned by robust carbon standards. Their impact should be real, measurable, last for a meaningful amount of time, and not simply be displacing emissions elsewhere.
There are many types of credits. Each supports different activities. This is why we take the time to consider the impacts of individual projects and calibrate our quality assessments accordingly. Some of these activities reduce emissions, while others remove carbon from the atmosphere. Both are important. Short-term interventions can contribute to much needed reductions before mid-century as technologies that can sequester carbon for thousands of years are being developed.
Impactful projects contribute many other benefits, often referred to as “co-benefits”. We recognise the importance of these additional core benefits and have made a conscious effort to elevate projects that meet environmental and social safeguards, as well as contributing to biodiversity, ecosystem services, community benefits, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This is in line with market standards requiring high-quality carbon credits to “go beyond no net harm” and have positive community and environmental co-benefits, in addition to meeting carbon credit generation requirements. This may also include whether a project meets supplementary certifications such those from Verra’s Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards and Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta), or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
CIX helps companies navigate complex carbon markets by simplifying how they purchase carbon credits. Our goal is to bring confidence to those that do not have the resources or expertise to perform their own assessment in-house, while complementing the efforts of those that can.
We do this by curating quality credits and providing key information about projects to support internal decision-making. We are helping buyers to: (a) glean a better understanding of projects and their potential; (b) make informed assessments on whether a credit type or project is acceptable; and (c) procure credits of a certain level of quality.
Each client must then decide whether CIX’s work suffices for their own due diligence. While an assessment by our team will never serve as an absolute guarantee, we believe that our efforts will form a sufficient basis for an informed decision in line with applicable public user guides.
Quality Assessment Framework
CIX has an established internal process for evaluating the quality of projects. This process is driven by our expert in-house quality assessment team. Our assessments are binary. We either choose to list and promote a project or not.
CIX’s criteria for project listings cover several key areas and steps.
Our first pre-requisite is that projects must be verified by internationally-recognised carbon crediting certification programmes such as Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Gold Standard. We also seek projects with additional certifications like SD VISta, CCB Standards, or which meet the requirements of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Next, projects must have passed CIX’s own quality screening process. We develop quality assessment frameworks for each credit type, which are established in consultation with subject matter experts and our independent International Advisory Council.
We primarily review the integrity of a project’s underlying carbon credit creation requirements: whether carbon finance is needed for the project, whether the project is eligible for carbon finance, how long carbon is sequestered for, whether emissions are displaced elsewhere, and how emission reductions are calculated. We also assess a project for broader environmental, social and economic impacts. Assessments against these frameworks involve a comprehensive review of publicly-available project documentation and other resources provided by suppliers to offer a clear understanding of a project’s attributes, material issues and risks.
As needed, we will actively engage the project developer or supplier to clarify areas that are critical to credit integrity or where further clarification is required. While not a pre-requisite, we also aim to reference third-party ratings as an additional lens on quality if they are available.
May 15, 2023