As the push towards net-zero continues, the demand for emissions offsets is accelerating. In a collaboration with Inogen Alliance and Environment Analyst, the insight report, Integrity at stake: Voluntary carbon offsets on the journey to net-zero, was developed. The report examines the risks and opportunities of engaging with the voluntary carbon market, as well as its growth potential as demand in the market remains strong.
The collaboration includes insights from Inogen Alliance members Margit Kapfer, head of decarbonization at denkstatt Austria, and Charlie Quann, carbon services lead at Antea Group USA.
Also, check out our previous series on decarbonization including more insights on the pros and cons of carbon offsets.
Sharing Insights on Carbon Offsets
Margit Kapfer, head of decarbonization at denkstatt, shared observations on the importance of quality and long-term strategy for new clients in the market.
While vigilance regarding quality is key, the upside of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), says Kapfer, is that it is triggering an innovation in technology and process for carbon capture and storage, using new technologies and materials. Advising clients on how to invest in offsets means being aware of the most promising opportunities and making sure that they have a long-term strategy: “you don’t just buy them for one year,” she said. Ideally, Kapfer added, the projects should be close to the purchaser; then the purchasing company can visit the project, have photoshoots, and tell the story of what they’re investing in and why. Transparent communications about how decisions have been made, and what goals are being met, are crucial for a company’s reputation, she explained.
For Charlie Quann, carbon services lead at Antea Group, a focus on quality is paramount, as is care with the suitability of offsets for meeting stated commitments.
“Carbon offsets and voluntary carbon markets lead to an interesting discussion with clients because it is very dependent on where they want to go with their public messaging around this. So, a lot of our clients are committed to the Science Based Target initiative, which [currently] does not accept carbon offsets for scope one and two reduction at all. So, I have to advise a lot of my clients to avoid carbon offsets, because if they are committed to SBTi and they're purchasing carbon offsets that can be a reputational risk for them.”
Looking to the Future with Carbon Neutrality
The future for the VCM, Kapfer thinks, entails both more standardization and more differentiation; what she would like to see is a link between the voluntary offset markets and the national accounting systems. “Who is the owner of the offset – the country where the forest is, the project developer, the remote investor? This has not been solved yet,” Kapfer said, “so this is coming: how to resolve double counting.”
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