There will always be critics...
Updated: Jul 19, 2022
Following the announcement of our Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs), we received criticism of their legitimacy. The crux of the criticism can be boiled down to this thing called “additionality” where it was reported we did not adhere to this core principle.
We recognise the importance of additionality, but we also consider that it is highly subjective and that adherence to the principle, in its strictest form, is an unreasonable bar that most voluntary offsets fail to meet - as many as 52% - upon independent audit referenced in an investigation by Quartz from 2021.
We want to be transparent about additionality in practice and focus on recognising what is measurable and provable. We believe this transparency will increase trust with the market and lead to better offsets and better forests.
Making carbon removal incentives more accessible for everyone
We’ve created technology that enables scalable monitoring and verification of carbon removals over vast areas of forest, with high precision.
Our assessment only measures recent carbon removals, achieved by native New Zealand forest. It’s independently auditable and every offset can be traced back to the date and source of carbon removal.
Given New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency, we believe democratising access to financial incentives attached to scaling this magic carbon-sucking technology (trees) is essential. We also believe removing disincentives for landholders that had the foresight to take action earlier than tomorrow or next year is a key requirement for scaling adoption and action.
Rather than patting ourselves on the back with small-scale reforestation projects that don’t make a dent, we think we should be investing in scalable climate change solutions that align incentives for broad adoption, participation and recognition.
The NZ rural community is facing significant pressure to reduce emissions from farming activities. Yet they are the holders of the land where our native forests exist, and those forests are incredibly valuable from a carbon-sucking perspective, not to mention biodiversity and many other benefits. If a farmer has to make a choice about how they monetise their land, protecting a scrubby or degrading native forest from livestock grazing probably isn’t top of their priority list if, as is often the case, that forest isn’t worth anything according to the ETS. That forest could be enabled to regenerate and flourish, but the incentives - and certainty of these incentives - need to exist first.
Our approach to additionality is within industry norms
Not only do we feel CarbonCrop’s approach to additionality is necessary for an effective climate response, it’s also within the industry norms. Our approach is the same as many others use in certifying net carbonzero farms and in recognising carbon zero meat - and we support those applications!
From the perspective of additionality, CarbonCrop and these schemes are also well aligned with the NZ ETS, with the exception that the ETS excludes indigenous forest established prior to 1990, even where it’s still sequestering carbon today - whereas landholders can earn Native CCUs from land which showed signs of regenerating in the late 1980s.
We believe a tonne of CO2 removed is a tonne of CO2 removed and carbon zero is carbon zero, whether you're talking about beef, wool, or jet fuel. We don’t think it’s transparent to pick and choose scenarios for recognising a carbon offset based on complicated proofs of ‘intent’ or hypothetical counterfactuals. We also think it’s wrong, and ultimately counterproductive, to exclude outright those that led the way as part of the solution. Subjective tests and arbitrary exclusions undermine trust and confidence, and are crippling our collective response.
New Zealand has declared a climate emergency, and if we want to scale our response, we have to allow landholders to scale their impact beyond recognising it in their own commodities.
Buyers of our CCUs have bought something that represents a direct and recent removal of a tonne of CO2 (rather than a reduction offset!) and chosen to support biodiversity, native New Zealand forests, rural communities and technology that enables this solution to scale.
Our buyers knew this, because we made it very clear to them that this was what they were purchasing, and the benefits that their action would drive. These are organisations putting their money where their mouths are with their climate change mitigation activities, and who’ve decided that paying more to suck carbon out of the atmosphere is worth the price rather than using a cheaper credit which merely represents someone else’s questionable commitment to emit less.
We are strongly in favour of scrutiny of climate mitigation claims, however we’re confident that in the face of such scrutiny, the position of these organisations choosing to offset their emissions through support of regenerating NZ native forest will be applauded.
Take a look at how we compare to the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment guidelines on voluntary offsets.
Thank you to everyone for the recent messages of support, in particular from our customers, landholders across New Zealand and the buyers of our first CCUs!