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Jul 12, 2023

Carbon Direct and Microsoft Release the 2023 Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal

Press

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Jul 12, 2023

Carbon Direct and Microsoft Release the 2023 Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal

Press

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Jul 12, 2023

Carbon Direct and Microsoft Release the 2023 Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal

NEW YORK—July 12, 2023— Carbon Direct, in collaboration with Microsoft, today announced the release of the 2023 edition of the Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal. The 2023 edition advances the work done by Carbon Direct and Microsoft since the inaugural Criteria were introduced in 2021 to address the quality challenges in the voluntary carbon market through the development of rigorous, science-based standards for carbon dioxide removal projects. The Criteria are designed to provide carbon removal project developers with regularly updated guidance to ensure project quality, and to offer buyers of carbon removal credits a starting point for evaluating the quality of their carbon credits portfolios. 

Read the Report: Criteria for High Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal >

The global community increasingly acknowledges the urgent need to scale carbon dioxide removal alongside reductions in order to meet climate mitigation targets. According to the most recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report, even in the best-case emissions reduction scenario, we still need to remove billions of metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the end of the 21st century to mitigate the worst climate impacts, including 1.2 billion tons a year by 2030. 

Internationally, both governments and private sector organizations are increasingly including emissions removal targets alongside reductions in their climate mitigation plans and investing in offtake for future supply. In the United States, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have resulted in substantial new investment and innovation in carbon dioxide removal. These and other developments underscore the urgency for scientifically-grounded carbon dioxide removal criteria to ensure effective climate action across sectors and borders.

“The long-term viability of the voluntary carbon market — for both project developers and credit purchasers — requires that we continuously refine and revise our understanding and implementation of the available carbon removal methodologies and how they are evaluated,” said Jon Goldberg, CEO, Carbon Direct. “Science is not static. The annual updates to the Criteria reflect this reality. Through our work with Microsoft we are committed to providing quality benchmarks based on the latest science, even when that requires revising our own previous guidance to reflect new understanding.

The latest edition sets forth essential principals for high-quality carbon removal and advances the common standards for quality across both established and emerging carbon dioxide removal solutions represented on the voluntary carbon market, including direct air capture, improved forest management, and biomass. The 2023 edition introduces new criteria for nascent carbon dioxide removal techniques and expands on the practical applications of emerging criteria, notably environmental justice. Specific updates include:

  • Enrichment of environmental justice criteria for carbon dioxide removal projects: The most severe impacts of climate change fall disproportionately on low-income and marginalized communities—the communities least able to prepare for or recover from them. The latest edition of the Criteria offers recommendations for environmental justice best practices, including incorporating community needs and priorities, engaging local stakeholders, and properly assessing impacts and benefits to help accelerate and de-risk the execution of carbon removal projects. 

  • Alignment of carbon accounting and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV): The 2023 edition better reflects how carbon accounting and MRV are linked, providing developers with clearer guidance for project planning and execution.

  • Development of criteria specific to Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW): Enhanced rock weathering in croplands involves spreading crushed silicate rocks onto agricultural fields to catalyze the conversion of carbon dioxide into bicarbonate. Given the large volume of silicate rock and agricultural land, ERW as a carbon removal method has strong potential to rapidly scale, as underscored by the rapid increase in private sector innovation and investment in this area. While ERW is promising, it also carries risks due to the heavy metals and other contaminants found in silicates that can accumulate at high concentrations in plant matter. The updates include additional criteria specific to high-quality ERW projects to help buyers and project developers interested in this removal pathway reduce risk while continuing to scale innovation and development.

“The science-based criteria set forth by Microsoft and Carbon Direct provide a framework we can use to rapidly scale high-quality carbon dioxide removal to deliver effective and equitable climate action,” said Phillip Goodman, Carbon Removal Director at Microsoft. “For project developers, they provide widely applicable quality benchmarks by which to design and prove effective carbon dioxide removal. For carbon removal purchasers, including Microsoft, these benchmarks help us ensure that our investments have actual climate impact.”

Carbon Direct and Microsoft will continue to collaboratively refine this guidance over the coming years. In subsequent iterations, the companies expect to develop additional guidance for emerging carbon dioxide removal pathways, potentially including macroalgae cultivation, peatland and freshwater wetland restoration, and ocean alkalinity enhancement.

Click here to read the blog from Carbon Direct.
Click here to get the report: Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal

About Carbon Direct
Carbon Direct helps organizations go from climate goal to climate action. We combine technology with deep expertise in climate science, policy, and carbon markets to deliver carbon emission footprints, actionable reduction strategies, and high-quality carbon dioxide removal. With Carbon Direct, clients can set and equitably deliver on their climate commitments, streamline compliance, and manage risk through transparency and scientific credibility.

Our expertise is trusted by global climate leaders including Microsoft, American Express, and  Alaska Airlines, as well as by the World Economic Forum, which selected Carbon Direct as an Implementation Partner for the First Movers Coalition. To learn more, visit www.carbon-direct.com.

Carbon Direct Media Contact: 
Rachel Pepple
press@carbon-direct.com