The lack of regulation in the voluntary carbon market has caused a proliferation of low-quality carbon credits, the purchase of which can lead to reputational damage as well as environmental and social harm. The startup hold.earth has set out to address this issue, focusing on high-quality credits acquisition.
Companies are increasingly under pressure to realize the net-zero goals set by the United Nations and other stakeholders. Some industries, such as aviation, are being closely monitored and are legally required to offset their carbon emissions. With more companies pledging to reach net-zero, carbon credit purchases are projected to soar with McKinsey estimating the market to grow from a current valuation of 1 billion to $50 billion by 2030.
Darius Tamauskas, co-founder and CEO of hold.earth, a company specializing in CO2 offsets that maximize impact for both humans and the planet, explains that the carbon credit market could face a reputational crisis if the quality of carbon offsets is not taken more seriously.
“It is a historical opportunity to direct the funds pledged by the industry leaders to meet net-zero targets in such a way that can actually make a long-term impact. Unfortunately, current market practices are highly unregulated when it comes to carbon credit quality evaluation,” he notes.
To get “high-quality” offsets — carbon projects need to be ethically sourced, certified, and meticulously reported on, ensuring they measure up to strict standards like those established by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. Such high-quality offsets can help generate sustainable value chains and positively impact future generations.
“The market is still a wild west with low-quality and high-quality carbon offset credits being viewed as having the same value while their environmental impact is completely different,” explains Tamauskas. ”What’s necessary for the market is transparency, regulation, and a more holistic process to establish the true value and impact of a green project, and accurately relate it to the offset credit issued by the certifying body.”
At the moment, there is no unified approach to carbon credit valuation. While some companies such as VERRA, Gold Standard, and CDM have established widely recognized certification practices, their pricing assessments of the same project could vary dramatically. Not to mention they act as gatekeepers with their high certification costs and long project approval time, which prevents smaller and higher-impact landholders from participating in the market.
hold.earth is aiming to remove the barriers to the carbon offsetting industry with a two-pronged approach: offering project owners a more efficient and accurate process of entry while providing companies the opportunity to collaborate directly with local projects. The latter often yields higher-quality carbon credits, and numerous co-benefits in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as community economic development, biodiversity protection, and gender equality.
“We hope to create an ecosystem that breeds trust and maximizes the value of offsetting. By ethically sourcing and developing high-quality carbon credits that provide numerous co-benefits, we want to enable companies to take part in making a real impact” adds Tamauskas.
Currently, hold.earth is actively pursuing initial offer requests from organizations seeking to develop partnerships with local projects in different geographies that create broad and sustainable social and environmental impact.