Secured Carbon brings a new level of rigour to climate measurement standards by directly measuring, reporting and verifying carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction in the air. The Berkeley Environmental Air-quality CO2 Network (BEACO2N) is the first sensor network to measure and scientifically verify the unit economics of local CO2 emissions reduction from cities, companies, roadways and factories. Secured Carbon‘s Chief Scientist and co-founder Ron Cohen researched and developed BEACO2N at the University of California, Berkeley using networks in and around Oakland, California and more recently in Glasgow, Scotland for the recent COP26 conference.
To slow the rate of carbon dioxide and temperature rise, recent estimates suggest an annual need of £4.2 trillion ($5 trillion) for carbon-reducing projects for the next 30 years. But until now, the lack of verified impact of carbon offsets and green bonds have hampered investment.
Current carbon accounting standards accept self-reported forecasts — but not the actual pollution emitted. These models are rarely verified externally due to technical challenges. But as the market grows, the financial incentive to cut corners or defraud investors increases and more discrepancies are being reported. For example, carbon credits from forest projects have later been found to be vastly overestimated or double-counted, and satellites have detected enormous rogue emissions from oil-and-gas fields.
“We have already seen a weakening of carbon offsets because of a lack of standards about acceptable environmentally rigorous schemes,” reports the Climate Bonds Initiative. “Poor quality offsets were, for many buyers, not readily distinguishable from high quality offsets. In such circumstances poorer quality offsets dominated for price or availability reasons, sparking a race to the bottom, or an abandoning of the sector.”
Despite record trade of £0.76 trillion ($0.9 trillion) in cap-and-trade carbon offsets and another £0.84 trillion ($1 trillion) in so-called green bonds, global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in May 2022 measured 421 parts per million (ppm). CO2 continues to rise unchecked at a rate of 2.33 ppm per year. It is nearly at 430 ppm – the concentration associated with a 1.5°C rise in global temperature. It has been another summer of historic global heat waves, wildfires, investor demand for environmental governance, and increasingly violent activist protests.
“When it comes to climate action, effective measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions and emissions reductions is critical to help countries understand GHG sources and trends, design mitigation strategies, enhance credibility and take other policy actions,” reports the World Resource Institute.
BEACO2N networks are set up in a square-mile mesh, or closer, throughout a city to detect local carbon dioxide levels. They can be used to verify the effectiveness of projects such as replacing gas-powered heating and cooling systems in apartment complexes, or changing traffic patterns. This precision enables effective carbon reduction decisions, and pinpointing rogue emissions.
Investors agree that they should be putting money towards the climate, but they don’t know where to put it as there is currently no way of accurately measuring the return on investment. Secured Carbon is committed to installing BEACO2N networks in the 300 largest and most polluting cities on the planet. “Cities account for over 70% of global CO2 emissions,” reports the World Bank, “most of which come from industrial and motorized transport systems that use huge quantities of fossil fuels and rely on far-flung infrastructure constructed with carbon-intensive materials.” BEACO2N will enable cities to attract major investors who seek to increase economic output while reducing carbon emissions.
Secured Carbon focuses on enabling countries, companies and cities such as Oakland and Glasgow to issue a new kind of Green Bond that closes the gap in ESG investments: external, measurement-based climate performance bonds. “Performance bonds are different from green or ESG bonds,” explains Michael Mainelli, executive chairman of Z/Yen Group. “A policy performance bond … is a bond where, in its simplest form, interest payments are linked to the actual greenhouse gas emissions of the issuing country against published targets. An investor in this bond receives an excess return if the issuing country’s emissions are above the government’s published target.”
“Secured Carbon is delivering a high-trust tool to facilitate the world's most important conversation and conundrum: how we integrate our financial lives with our environmental impact,” says John Pigott, CEO of ABE, a global and regulated token exchange. “A real-time, verifiable data feed that can audit the environmental impact of our activities will increase trust in the global financial ecosystem."
The UN announced a crackdown on carbon net zero greenwashing at COP 27 as global emissions are still heading in the wrong direction despite record multi-trillion-dollar trade in carbon credits and climate bonds. Tightened accounting and verification standards are to follow.
Greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity have increased since 2010 across all major sectors globally.
An increasing share of emissions can be attributed to towns and cities. Emissions reductions clawed back in the last decade have been less than emissions increases from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings.
Methane, which has a global warming potential more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, is estimated to be responsible for a quarter of the temperature increases we experience today.
Over the last few years, numerous independent methane monitoring studies have highlighted large discrepancies between measured quantities of natural gas being released into the atmosphere and what is recorded in national inventories. In particular, leaks from oil and gas infrastructure seem to account for alarming quantities of unreported methane emissions.
One major problem with the way inventories are currently compiled is that they can’t account for one-off incidents that contribute large quantities of methane to the atmosphere. In February this year, Lauvaux’s team released data collected by the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (Tropomi), a methane detection system on board the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 5-P satellite. The Tropomi data reveals the startling extent of methane emissions associated with ‘ultra-emitting’ events across the globe.
‘When we aggregated all these numbers, we discovered there were hundreds of these giant leaks,’ says Lauvaux. ‘And I’m talking about giant leaks, more than 20 tonnes of methane per hour – so it’s an open pipeline more or less.’
The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), established at COP26 to develop a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability disclosures for the capital markets, today launched a consultation on its first two proposed standards.
One sets out general sustainability-related disclosure requirements and the other specifies climate-related disclosure requirements.
The proposals―exposure drafts—build upon the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and incorporate industry-based disclosure requirements derived from SASB Standards.
The ISSB is seeking feedback on the proposals over a 120-day consultation period closing on 29 July 2022.
"I am pleased to support today’s proposal because, if adopted, it would provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information for making their investment decisions, and it would provide consistent and clear reporting obligations for issuers," said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
The proposed rules also would require a registrant to disclose information about its direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from purchased electricity or other forms of energy (Scope 2). In addition, a registrant would be required to disclose GHG emissions from upstream and downstream activities in its value chain (Scope 3), if material or if the registrant has set a GHG emissions target or goal that includes Scope 3 emissions.
Critics for years have revealed how carbon markets fail to deliver their intended climate benefits … weak rules have created strong incentives for landowners to develop offset projects that don’t actually change the way forests are managed, and therefore do little to help the climate.
“There’s a distinct possibility that a great deal of existing carbon offsets are effectively fake,” says Robert Mendelsohn, professor of forest policy and economics at Yale.
EU is making on upgrading climate and social accounting standards to make them more useful for investors and cheaper for businesses. It is a much needed step to counter unethical and short-sighted profiteering too often accepted as "business as usual".
In the first eight months of 2021, voluntary carbon markets have already posted a near-60% increase in value from last year, driven by corporate net-zero ambition and growing interest in carbon markets to achieve Paris climate goals, a new report finds.
“We’re seeing record market volume and value in 2021,” said Stephen Donofrio, a lead report author and Director of Ecosystem Marketplace.
“The markets are on track to hit $1 billion in transactions this year if current levels of activity and growth continue. It’s not just companies who are buying carbon credits as a small piece of their corporate net-zero strategy. There’s an increase in speculators purchasing credits. The combined value of those deals is becoming a serious source of finance for green projects around the world.”