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  • CarbonCrop Team

Can’t we all agree on what makes a good offset?

Why CarbonCrop is aligning with The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (Integrity Council)

Sunrise over forested hills with river flowing through the middle

The world is gunning for net zero emissions.

Reducing emissions is the first step, but we can’t reduce all emissions to zero, so we need offsets.

As more and more companies commit to reducing emissions, and more and more consumers are demanding clear, credible transition plans, a well-functioning voluntary carbon market is critical. To meet growing demands, the current market will need to expand at least 15x, and potentially 160x.

This is astonishing growth in demand for an unregulated market. There are so many options for voluntary carbon credits to buy and more than 20 standards for offsets. How are you supposed to know if you’re looking at a good carbon offset, let alone choosing a better one?

For us to meet our targets we need a level playing field, for it to be easy to verify integrity, and to know what you're looking for and looking at in an offset. Today, that's not possible, and it's a big obstacle.

That’s why the Integrity Council was created.

The Integrity Council was launched in 2021 and is governed by a Board of 22 members across 12 countries, with representation across all the key stakeholder groups including experts in carbon market technologies, sustainable finance, eNGOs, UNFCCC process expertise, regulatory affairs, the corporate sector, science and academia, local communities and indigenous people. The Chair of the Integrity Council Board is Annette Lazareth (ex-Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC))

The Board is advised by a Distinguished Advisory Panel of 30 world-renowned leaders from across the voluntary carbon market value chain, including Bill Winters (CEO of StandardChartered), Tim Adams (CEO of the International Institute for Finance), Dame Clara Furse (Chairman of UK Voluntary Carbon Markets Forum) and Mark Carney (UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance).

They are building on an agreed blueprint from the Taskforce for Scaling the Voluntary Carbon Market of how to scale up the voluntary carbon markets, which started after consultation with +250 member companies right through the value chain, like The Nature Conservancy, WWF, CarbonDirect, PWC, Harvard University, Microsoft, Google and Citibank.

The Integrity Council has released the Core Carbon Principles (CCP). The draft principles are out for public consultation now and will become the globally-agreed definition of what makes a good carbon credit. They are:

  • Additionality

  • Mitigation activity information

  • No double counting

  • Permanence

  • Program governance

  • Registry

  • Robust independent third-party validation and verification

  • Robust quantification

  • Sustainable development impacts and safeguards

  • Transition towards net-zero emissions

But what does that all mean? And how does CarbonCrop’s Native CCU stack up?

Additional - the existence of carbon finance causes extra sequestration

CCP definition

An offset is additional if it would not have occurred in the absence of the incentive created by carbon credit revenues. This means the action wouldn’t have happened without the incentive created by carbon credit revenue.

We issue Native CCUs for regenerating native forests which need carbon finance to be financially viable. Without Native CCUs, the incentives and resources to protect and restore native forest are severely impacted and the land is negatively profitable.

Mitigation activity information

CCP definition

The carbon-crediting program has to provide comprehensive and transparent information on the offset activities.

CarbonCrop is committed to transparency and has published our full methodology for CCUs on our website. CarbonTracer makes confirming the forest of origin and whether an offset is already owned freely available to everyone.

No double counting

CCP definition

An offset can only be issued once for a particular action and counted once towards achieving mitigation targets or goals.

CarbonCrop ensures no double counting occurs for Native CCUs by:

1. Only counting land that has not received carbon credits under the NZETS, and is not considered as ‘post-1989 Kyoto forest’ by the Ministry for the Environment.

2. Verifying potential Native CCU areas are not registered in major international registries before we register them.

3. Making our registration data available for others to check against.

4. An enforceable landowner contract against the land title stating carbon sequestration for the particular block of forest cannot be registered elsewhere.

5. Creating every Native CCU with a unique identifier and tracking information.

6. Making CarbonTracer freely available to everyone so any owner or prospective buyer of a Native CCU can confirm the forest of origin and legal owner.

Permanent - the offsets you buy will last

CCP definition

An issued offset will last in the long-term, and safeguards have been put in place in case of an accident that reverses the carbon sequestration, for example a forest fire. For forestry, 100 years is recommended for the length of time to keep the forest.

When a Native CCU is issued, the landowner enters into a legal agreement tied to their land. This imposes obligations that endure even if the land changes hands. If a forest is deliberately removed, the landholder must purchase an equivalent volume and type of the lost credits in penalty.

The same technology that allows for precise measurement of carbon sequestration also tracks the forest over time to detect any forest loss.

A buyer of Native CCUs can also visually check the related area of forest at any time using CarbonTracer, which uses recent satellite imagery for the forest.

Program governance

CCP definition

The carbon-crediting program shall have effective program governance to ensure transparency, accountability and the overall quality of carbon credits.

CarbonCrop publishes our full CCU methodology and also includes information on our website about our board and team members. We're continuing to expand our program governance and systems as we prepare to scale the CarbonCrop Native program.


CCP definition

The carbon-crediting program should operate or use a registry to identify, record and track offsets.

CarbonCrop operates our own registry and ensures that the CCUs issued are unique, identifiable, traceable, and secure.

Robust independent third-party validation and verification

CCP definition

The offsets and process of issuing offsets should be independently validated and verified.

CarbonCrop are working to have our Native CCU issuance audited and verified by an independent third party.

Robust quantification

CCP definition

The offset will be solidly, conservatively and scientifically measured and have a solid baseline scenario. The offset must be issued for something that has actually happened, not an expected future outcome.

We use a similar approach for our Native CCU models and field measurement methods as the ETS and these are based on the latest scientific research. We take a more conservative sequestration rate than the official MPI carbon look-up tables to be sure we don’t overestimate the amount of carbon sequestered and our technology allows consistent monitoring for more reliable reversal detection.

Native CCUs are only issued for actual carbon sucked out of the atmosphere into our regenerating native forests. We establish clear baselines which realistically reflect the nature of regenerating native forests.

Native CCUs are designed to be highly transparent and are traceable back to the specific block of forest it was issued from through its unique identifying code and our publicly-available CarbonTracer app. Our methodology and data are both available for third-party auditing.

Sustainable development impacts and safeguards

CCP definition

The carbon-crediting program should ensure that there are environmental and social safeguards in place for offsets issued while delivering on net positive sustainable development impacts.

We believe that net social or environmental benefits should be the minimum. Native CCUs have a positive impact on biodiversity, water quality and soil quality. The vast majority of funds are directed to the verified landholder who is incentivised to reinvest it back into the local community through services to protect and restore regenerating native New Zealand forests.

Transition towards net-zero emissions

CCP definition

The offsets should avoid locking in levels of emissions, technologies or carbon-intensive practices that are incompatible with achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

CarbonCrop’s Native CCUs do not rely on high emissions technologies or practices which emit significant amounts of carbon. Importantly, Native CCUs are only issued for the actual removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in contrast to the widespread offsets practice of emissions reduction which doesn’t actually suck any carbon out of the air at all.

What that all means is you can be confident that Native CCUs are in line with the global thinking of a collective of some of the best, forward-thinking minds in carbon credits and carbon markets.

Native CCUs are 100% transparent removal carbon offsets from regenerating native New Zealand forests. By buying Native CCUs you are supporting better forests and better offsets.

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