03 Jun 2016

Carbon credits – added value for your brand and your community

Posted in: Carbon Credits

As you may know, for Toitū carbonzero certifications we use carbon credits to essentially offset your unavoidable emissions and balance out your emissions to net zero emissions. As a programme, our primary role is to source credits that are of appropriate credibility. Every carbon credit is equal to one tonne of reduced/avoided/sequestered emissions to atmosphere, and those prevented emissions must be over and above business-as-usual. This is the primary purpose of offsetting – balancing the emissions scale to net zero (see diagram below).

Balancing emissions through offsets

However, offset projects also provide additional value in terms of social and other non-carbon environmental benefits. A recent report by the Gold Standard has highlighted the monetary value of different projects under their standard, in order to reflect these additional benefits. The Gold Standard is one of several types of carbon credit standards. Gold Standard credit projects are those that achieve both credible greenhouse gas reductions and maximise wider sustainable development.

Some interesting points we found in the report indicate that the monetarised value of projects range from $21/tonne for wind projects, $41/tonne for Biogas projects, and $177/tonne for Reforestation projects (see figure below). These values were derived by economists using a valuation model of the socio-economic benefits delivered by Gold Standard projects.

Monetary value of Gold Standard project impacts

Image source: Figure 4 from the Gold Standard report


Of course, these values need to be considered in the context of where the projects are located and other specific site characteristics, but it does tell us that carbon credits not only deliver mitigation for climate change, but also deliver a lot more value added services, essentially helping to make the world a better place.

To bring the concept of value back to the New Zealand setting, we make use of various credit projects including native forest sites at Hinewai Reserve, Canterbury; Pigeon Bush, South Wairarapa; and Rangitoto Station, King Country. These sites also have unique value added benefits.

What makes the Hinewai Reserve site a special, credible, and premium credit?

Visitors at the Hinewai Reserve near Christchurch

Hinewai Reserve is a great example of not only sequestering carbon but also promoting biodiversity, erosion control, and water quality. It has fantastic public access so the local community can come and appreciate the value of conservation. On top of this, it is a valuable site for numerous research projects.

What makes the Pigeon Bush Reserve site a special, credible, and premium credit?

Visitors at the Pigeon Bush Reserve near Wellington

Pigeon Bush is a good example of not only sequestering carbon but also promoting biodiversity, erosion control, and water quality. Also, as the reserve is between the Rimutaka and Tararua Conservation Parks, it helps provide a corridor for wildlife. The lowland beech forest here is the rarest of all the lowland forests in the Tararua Ecological Area. New Zealand falcon, kingfisher, morepork, fantail and kereru are frequently seen here.

Since we started the programme in 2007, we’ve helped customers offset more than 580,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions. By comparison, there have been some 25 million tonnes of Gold Standard carbon credits retired in total, with 7.8 million of these being retired during 2015.

Carbon credits can demonstrate shared values in your brand story. You have a choice in the projects you use, so select credits that resonate with your stakeholders. Make use of background information about the project (ask us if you need more information on any of the projects). Consider supporting the same or similar credits each year if possible. And, of course, stress the importance of credit quality in your communications – not all credits are created equal, but we allow only the most rigorous credits to be used for Toitū carbonzero members and our online calculators.

Carbon credits: How to tell if they're the real deal or not

As the global community accelerates efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change, carbon neutral labels are an increasingly common sight on products and services. How can consumers tell if these claims are the real thing or just fluff?

Our CEO, Dr Ann Smith was interviewed by Eco-Business to shed light on this topic. See the full article here.

Want to know more?

If you are interested in attending our webinar on carbon credits (‘carbon credits – what are they and what makes a ‘credible credit’?), please contact us to arrange a session. Or explore these resources elsewhere on our website: