An Open Letter In Support of High-Integrity Carbon Markets – Reprinted with permission from Sylvera
The following letter was penned by Sylvera in response to the urgent need for the wide-spread adoption of carbon credits. This open letter was signed by over 50 of Sylvera’s partners, who are linked at the bottom. We at Heartland were so moved and inspired by Sylvera’s piece that we signed it, then gained permission to reprint it on our site. This is the letter in full.
The carbon credit market alone will not solve climate change. Not all credits deliver the climate benefits they claim. These two facts are not disputed. But they also do not mean that offsetting should be totally abandoned and that any engagement with carbon markets is greenwashing. Carbon credits are one of the few mechanisms we currently have for funding the wide-scale conservation of natural carbon sinks and wider climate solutions.
There is broad agreement that carbon credits are only one part of wider climate strategies. In our experience, the majority of corporate buyers investing in projects are also heavily investing in decarbonizing their own value chains and are using credits to make a difference in the short term. As a group of buyers, project developers, industry bodies, ratings and data providers, investors, restoration and conservation organizations, and nonprofits, we actively promote adherence to the “mitigation hierarchy”– companies must first avoid and reduce emissions, using credits only to compensate for emissions they are unable to avoid – in line with the leading net zero guidance from the United Nations and the Science-Based Targets initiative.
In addition to acting as “no-regrets actions that companies can take now,” carbon credits have the added benefit that they introduce a de facto cost of carbon (for emissions not covered by other carbon trading schemes), therefore creating an additional incentive for buyers to reduce their emissions as soon as possible. After all, the faster an organization decarbonizes, the fewer credits they ultimately need to buy.
Of course, this will only be effective if the credits used represent genuine emissions reductions or removals. Voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) must address the challenge of inconsistent credit quality. It is valid and important to highlight this, because it has led to a need for buyers to conduct additional due diligence, and is the reason carbon credit ratings providers and other third-party measurement and tracking organizations now exist. The market itself recognizes this too, as demonstrated by several market initiatives set up in recent years, most notably the Integrity Council for VCMs.
The good news is that technological advances now make it possible to assess quality accurately. This means buyers can find credible, high-quality credits today. We’re also beginning to see these high-quality credits deservingly command a price premium – as you would expect in a well-functioning market – and serious buyers who prioritize social and environmental integrity are willing to pay for real outcomes.
The fact that all carbon credits are not perfect does not mean we shouldn’t use them—it is too late for that. Right now there’s no credible pathway to keeping global temperature increases below 1.5°C. “The scientific evidence is unequivocal,” according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” We need every tool in the box, including carbon credits.
What’s at stake if we don’t build confidence in a high-integrity carbon credit market?
- We give permission for companies to do nothing about the emissions they cannot cut today, and instead, wait around for a perfect solution. We don’t have time.
- We dramatically reduce funding for nature-based solutions while waiting for promising yet early-stage engineered carbon removal solutions to be tested, proven, and scaled.
- We allow our vital carbon-sequestering ecosystems like rainforests and mangroves to be eradicated, meaning we lose our greatest carbon sink, destroy essential biodiversity, and further impact Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
In recognizing the potential positive impacts of carbon credits, we also recognize the need for them to be more effective. We need integrity, transparency, and accountability, and that is what we are collectively working to achieve.
Allister Furey/Co-founder and CEO, Sylvera
Sam Gill/Co-founder and President, Sylvera
Tommy Ricketts/Co-founder and CEO, BeZero Carbon
Jo Anderson/Co-founder and Director, Carbon Tanzania
Dee Lawrence/Founder and Director, Cool Effect
Eric Wilburn/Head of Product, EarthShot Labs
Elliot Coad/CEO, Ecologi
James Tansey/CEO, KlimatX
Till Tornieporth/Co-Founder, Maya Climate
Chris Poesngen/Co-Founder, Maya Climate
Celia Francis/Founder, The Art of Forests & CCO, Earthshot Labs
Sergey Ivliev/Founder, Vlinder Climate
Ana Haurie/CEO, Respira
Dr. Hassan Sachedina/Founder of BioCarbon Partners, CEO & Co-founder, Sayari Earth
Marie-Noelle Keijzer/Co-founder & CEO, We Forest
Emilia Giron de Mendoza/Executive Director, Proyecto Mirador
Kate Wharton/Principal & Head of Natural Capital, CrossBoundary
Theron Morgan-Brown/Director, Reterra
Martin Dilger/CEO, Umwelt Projekt Management GmbH
Tom Skirrow/CEO, Tree Aid
Stuart Rowland/CEO, Revalue Nature
Cheri Sugal/CEO, Integrity Global Partners
Dr Barbara Baarsma/Rabo Carbon Bank and Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Amsterdam
Karen Haugen-Kozyra/President, Viresco
Cristiano Alves/Director, Carbon Credit Consulting
Zack Parisa/Co-founder & CEO of NCX
Keith Bohannon/CEO, Plan Vivo
Ana Milena/CEO, Biofix
Simon Mulcahy/CEO, TIME CO2.com
Zoë Quiroz Cullen/Director of Climate & Nature Linkages, Flora and Fauna International
Lisa Walker/CEO, Ecosphere+
Natalia Arango Vélez/Executive Director, Fondo Accion
Diego Saez Gill/CEO, Pachama
Justin Cochrane/Founder & CEO, Carbon Streaming Corporation
Dirk Forrister/President & CEO, IETA
Stuart Lemmon/CEO and Managing Director of Net Zero Transformation Practice at Atos, EcoAct
Eron Bloomgarden/CEO, Emergent
Chris Harbourt/Chief Strategy Officer, Indigo
Bill Pazos/Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Air Carbon Exchange
Sean Penrith/CEO, Gordian Knot Strategies
BASCS Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions
Kahlil Baker/Co-founder and CEO, Taking Root
Murray Collins/CEO & Co-Founder, Space Intelligence
Plinio Ribeiro/CEO, Biofilica
Thomas Herry/CEO, Fenix Carbon
Janaina Dallan/CEO, CarbonNext
Michel Schuurman/Chair, REDD+ Business Initiative (RBI)
Aadith Moorthy/CEO, Boomitra
Raphaël Haupt/Founder and CEO, Toucan
Edward Rumsey/Managing Partner, Permian Global
Edward Mitchard/Chief Scientist & Co-founder, Space Intelligence
Fabrice Le Saché/Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Aera Group FR
Craig Ebert/President, Climate Action Reserve
Bryan Adkins/CEO, Compassionate Carbon
Simon Heppner/Founder & Executive Director, Net Zero Now
Troy Carter/CEO, Earthshot Labs
Darren Howie/Director, Carbon & Sustainability, Trimble
Jesse Henry/CEO, Heartland Industries