Nature-based solutions are actions that protect, restore and enhance natural and modified ecosystems. They naturally reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can mitigate the impacts of climate change. Protecting or restoring forests, peatlands, mangroves and coral reefs are some of the more well-known nature-based solutions. Those that offer emissions savings can generate carbon credits sold in voluntary carbon markets. This provides a potential revenue stream for landowners and a way for companies to offset unavoidable emissions in the quest to reach net-zero.
Nature-based solutions also present an impressive range of environmental and social benefits like creating green jobs, protecting communities from flooding and improving air quality. This begs the question - why are nature based-based solutions not more popular? To find out why, we sponsored this new research report by Imperial College London’s Centre for Climate Finance and Investment, as part of our research partnership.
Lifting the barriers to nature-based solutions
The report reveals that a major barrier is attracting funding and making projects economically viable whilst ensuring they achieve the emissions savings promised, without any adverse consequences. Dr. Alexandre Köberle, Research Fellow, Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College London says: “It’s important for investors to do their due diligence and demand quality from the offset they buy by asking educated questions about project integrity.”
Alongside rapid, science-based reductions in actual emissions across the economy, high-integrity voluntary carbon markets have the potential to mobilise billions of dollars a year in additional climate finance that removes carbon or cuts emissions, keeping global warming to within 1.5°C, and helps the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Done right, carbon markets can benefit a wide range of stakeholders, building resilience in the world’s most vulnerable countries and supporting sustainable development and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. The Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (IC-VCM) is developing a set of core carbon principles that will bring high integrity and quality to carbon markets.
As economies transition to net-zero and carbon prices rise, investors can shape the future of nature-based solutions by improving the quantity and quality of transactions and delivering social and environmental benefits beyond emissions reduction.
Accelerating adoption through a marketplace with high-quality carbon credits
In May 2021, Standard Chartered joined forces with DBS, Singapore Exchange and Temasek to develop a carbon exchange and marketplace, Climate Impact X (CIX); providing companies a marketplace for high-quality carbon credits to address hard-to-abate emissions.
With an initial focus on nature-based solutions, CIX recently completed a first-of-its-kind portfolio auction with 170,000 tonnes of carbon credits transacted as part of eight natural climate solution projects. Co-benefits include an estimated 55,000 jobs, improvements to education for more than 35,000 students, help to fund 60 medical facilities and infrastructure projects; plus efforts to protect over 250 threatened species.
With more regular auctions planned in 2022, high time for nature-based solutions may just be around the corner.