Understanding the criteria for high-quality carbon projects

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Financing “high-quality” carbon projects is an effective way to contribute to maintaining a habitable planet. By supporting high-quality, nature-based carbon projects, companies not only create real climate impact but also provide additional social, environmental and economic benefits. A high-quality carbon project provides assurance throughout its life cycle, from project planning to credit issuance and retirement to impact beyond the end of its crediting period. 

Several characteristics contribute towards the high-quality of a carbon project:

1. Additionality:

The idea that emission reductions and removals should produce additional abatement compared with a reference scenario that would have occurred without the market-based mechanism. 

2. Realistic and credible baselines:

The project must realistically present and credibly explain the expected greenhouse gas emissions without the planned intervention. This baseline serves as an essential reference for accurately measuring and verifying a project’s emission reduction and removal achievements.

3. Robust quantification and monitoring framework:

The project needs a structured approach for accurately measuring and reporting project impacts with established methodologies, quality assurance, third-party verification, and continuous improvement, ensuring data reliability and credibility.

4. Permanence:

The project must ensure that once carbon is removed from the atmosphere, it remains stored securely for a prolonged period (depending upon project type). For instance, carbon stored in a forest should not be at risk of being released back into the atmosphere due to factors like wildfires or pest attacks. A non-permanence risk assessment must be combined with a sufficient buffer pool, proactive risk mitigation strategy and a contingency plan.

5. Avoiding double counting of the emission reductions or removals:

The project developers, carbon methodologies, standards and registries must implement measures to prevent the same emission reduction or removal being claimed, used or reported more than once. To avoid this issue, implementing robust tracking and verification systems to ensure that each carbon credit is uniquely attributed and accounted for only once in the carbon market would be highly effective.

6. Facilitating transition towards global net-zero emission target:

The implementation of the project must facilitate, rather than delay or impede, a transition towards achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, as per the Paris Agreement.

7. Environmental and socio-economic co-benefits:

A project should achieve impacts beyond the climate impacts, such as strengthening climate resilience, improving livelihoods, supporting vulnerable communities and enhancing biodiversity.


But how does one navigate through this complex space?

Buyers and investors should look for projects which are thoroughly vetted against the above-mentioned characteristics. You can also seek projects that have been included in a reputable, curated project selection, such as the Callirius Project Portfolio. 

Callirius has a rigorous multi-step quality assessment process and due diligence framework, called Callirius Quality Framework (CQF), to ensure that the carbon projects we offer are of high quality and high integrity:

  • Pre-eligibility assessment: Callirius assesses the project’s pre-eligibility based on a set of pre-assessed and pre-approved criteria. In this step, the data for the projects and project developers, retrieved through standardized forms, is collected and carbon projects are automatically filtered according to the pre-defined criteria.
  • Due diligence process: Callirius conducts a more in-depth assessment of the project based on project-type-specific guiding questions to determine the final eligibility of the projects that we offer in our Project Portal. At the country level, we analyze the political, policy and market-related market-related risks alongside the country’s Voluntary Carbon Market readiness. We also assess the program risks associated with carbon registries, standards and methodologies. Finally, during the project assessment, we assess the carbon credit impact-related risks, Validation and Verification Body and project developer due diligence along with regulatory risks underlying projects. This includes reviewing the project’s documentation, interviewing the project developers, and analyzing remote sensing imagery. 
  • Project onboarding and continuous monitoring process: In this step, Callirius lists the project on its Project Portal if it meets all of the criteria. All these projects are subject to continuous monitoring for transparency and accountability, helping to build stakeholder confidence by providing transparent and reliable information on the project’s performance.

High-quality carbon credits are an important tool for mitigating climate change. By choosing high-quality carbon credits, you can be sure that your investment is making a real impact. Callirius is committed to providing carbon projects that are additional, verified, credible and transparent to demonstrate impactful climate action for our buyers.

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