Carbon offsets for a sustainable and decarbonized future
Written by Sergi Cuadrat, Chief Technical Officer (ALLCOT)
In 2015, leaders from the member states of the United Nations agreed on objectives to shift all economies and societies toward sustainable and decarbonised development through the adoption of the Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development Goals (New York, September 2015) and the Paris Agreement to limit climate warming to well below 2ᵒC (Paris, December 2015). There is enormous potential for co-benefits to arise from the mutually supportive implementation processes of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) elaborated in the voluntary 2030 Agenda and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) underpinning the legally binding Paris Agreement under its Article 6.
Both frameworks, although negotiated under different multilateral processes, promote the participation of all countries and are highly interlinked: the Paris Agreement emphasizes the need for considerations of sustainability in low-carbon transitions; at the same time avoiding dangerous climate change is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Thus, failure in one process could undermine the success of the other. The implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) –countries’ emissions reduction commitments– requires huge investments, which are more likely to be financed if embedded in and benefiting national development plans. While, vice versa, prospects for sustainable development depend on a limitation of global warming. This interdependency can be seen as an opportunity to move away from the discourse of two different agendas that are often perceived to be in competition, and instead pursue their implementation in a way to maximize mutual benefits.
Several carbon offset standards such as the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard are adapting their frameworks and requirements to better define a carbon mitigation project’s impacts beyond carbon reductions, and in some cases, this may lead to the creation of other tradeable instruments in addition to carbon credits. ALLCOT assesses project alignment with the SDGs to conduct a thorough analysis of the data currently being monitored and verified at the project level, to determine whether there are additional metrics that can be tracked for SDG reporting purposes.
ALLCOT is seeing an evolution in the way our clients think about carbon finance and the additional impacts their carbon investments can have. Businesses are able to articulate the benefits of their carbon project investments beyond the verified emission reduction. We believe that businesses can use carbon finance to deliver additional value through alignment with the SDGs, enabling the carbon market to extend beyond emission reductions, and play a vital role in driving a low carbon sustainable development throughout the world.