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May 30, 2024

How carbon credit buyers can support ecological restoration

Why signals like the Symbiosis Coalition matter in unlocking ecological restoration benefits on the voluntary carbon market

Blog

/

May 30, 2024

How carbon credit buyers can support ecological restoration

Why signals like the Symbiosis Coalition matter in unlocking ecological restoration benefits on the voluntary carbon market

Blog

/

May 30, 2024

How carbon credit buyers can support ecological restoration

Why signals like the Symbiosis Coalition matter in unlocking ecological restoration benefits on the voluntary carbon market

Today, over half of global gross domestic product is highly or moderately dependent on nature and its services. However, by 2050, 95% of the Earth’s land areas could be degraded. In response to this and other factors, the United Nations (UN) declared 2021 to 2030 the decade of restoration. In 2022, 188 governments agreed to the Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to protect and restore 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030. The UN estimates that to meet biodiversity and land restoration targets, annual investments by the Group of 20 (G20) nations need to increase by at least 140%.  

Restoring ecosystems can be a win-win for nature and climate. Recovering ecosystems remove carbon, help conserve biodiversity, and buffer communities from the negative impact of climate change. However, these shared climate and recovery goals do not invariably manifest as aligned priorities for project design and implementation in voluntary carbon markets. For example, a recent study found that in 2022, only 13% of projects issuing credits on the voluntary carbon market have high potential to restore biodiverse forests. A random sample of those projects with the potential to restore biodiverse forests found that only 35% aim to restore native ecosystems.

The Symbiosis Coalition, formed by climate leaders Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Salesforce was created with an ambitious goal to unlock these project types on the market. Through Symbiosis, these companies have made a 20M tonne offtake commitment for high-quality ecological restoration and carbon projects underpinned by rigorous standards. 

A critical market gap

Buyer’s coalitions like Symbiosis represent a powerful way to aggregate and provide a strong buy-side signal to spur rapid action for restoration projects. Carbon Direct and Meta, one of the coalition partners, recently published a report, Opportunities for Ecological Restoration in the Voluntary Carbon Market, which characterizes the barriers to high-quality ecological restoration on the voluntary carbon market and identifies opportunities to overcome them. One of the report’s key findings is that strong and consistent buy-side signals can help spur finance for ecological restoration projects that might otherwise be perceived as risky to investors.

The importance of quality

Symbiosis was formed with twin goals: to send a strong demand for ecological restoration projects on the voluntary carbon market, and to establish and adhere to the highest quality standards for these projects. 

Since 2022, Carbon Direct has worked in collaboration with Microsoft, another coalition partner, to publish and refine the Criteria for High-Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal. Through our collaboration with Symbiosis, we informed the quality pillars designed to unlock new supply of high-quality restoration projects. The project-specific quality criteria for afforestation, reforestation, and revegetation (ARR) projects, and the forthcoming criteria for mangrove restoration projects, complement our high-quality criteria for these project types, and will help give more buyers confidence to support these projects as part of their climate plans. 

Get involved

Buyers can support the goal of making co-benefits, like biodiversity and ecosystem and community health, core-benefits of carbon projects by signaling demand for these critical projects. The financial commitment made by Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Salesforce through the Symbiosis Coalition is a critical step—and hopefully a turning point—in catalyzing broader action to unlock the high-quality supply needed to reach net-zero goals. 


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