Why take action?
The scientific community has clearly stated the need to reach net-zero global CO2 emissions by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C and to reduce the destructive impacts of climate change on human society and environment. This means that we have to transition to a low carbon economy and sequester and store carbon to balance out any emissions that we cannot abate.
Citizens across the world are demanding environmental and social action
Studies have shown that consumers are prepared to change their habits, reduce their environmental impact, and put pressure on companies to adopt a more socially and environmentally responsible behaviour.
Governments and investors now recognise that climate change and the continued destruction of nature represent two of the most significant risks to the global economy. Governments across the world are setting new ambitious environmental policies and incentives, and investors are integrating climate and nature-related risks into their investment decision-making. As a result, businesses are under pressure to take action on climate change, nature protection and restoration.
For businesses to align with science-based net-zero, they must:
- Achieve value-chain emission reductions consistent with the level of abatement required for pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot;
- Neutralise the impact of any source of residual emissions that remains unfeasible to be eliminated by permanently removing an equivalent amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Several global climate and nature focused initiatives have gained momentum and gathered significant support from businesses, institutions and investors over the last few years:
- Science Based Targets Initiative which has mobilised companies to set science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement;
- The Race to Zero Campaign by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an umbrella coalition of leading net-zero initiatives, which at the end of 2020 was representing 452 cities, 22 regions, 1,101 businesses, 45 of the biggest investors, and 549 universities;
- Principles for Responsible Investing network, which in 2020 had 3,038 signatories, 521 asset owners with USD $23.5 trillion assets under management;
- The Business for Nature coalition supporting business action on nature with over 500 companies committed to reversing nature loss.
- The Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, led by Mark Carney, is a private sector-led initiative with the goal to scale transparent, verifiable and robust voluntary carbon market to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Nature Based Solutions
Nature-based solutions are a crucial part of Voluntary Carbon Markets, harnessing the power of the planet’s natural resources to address the dual climate and biodiversity crises. Done well, nature-based solutions protect and restore vital habitats to increase biodiversity at the same time as reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding or removing them.
Land-use change ranks second only to the burning of fossil fuels as the biggest source of emissions that contribute to climate change. Investing in tropical rainforests to sequester and store carbon can have a significant beneficial climate impact; according to the IPCC, reducing deforestation and forest degradation rates represents one of the most effective and robust options for climate change mitigation.
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From the knowledge centre
Sasol announces partnership with Vertree Partners to advance its environmental markets strategy
6th September 2023: South African global chemicals and energy company, Sasol Limited, announces a three-year agreement to work with international carbon…
6th September 2023: South African global chemicals and energy company, Sasol Limited, announces a three-year agreement to work with international carbon solutions provider, Vertree Partners Limited, on access to high-quality carbon credits and climate investments.
In accordance with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties, Vertree will help Sasol devise robust pathways for decarbonisation, manage associated risks and make high-quality, high-impact investments in carbon reductions and removals as part of the company’s journey to net zero.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Hartree Partners, Vertree is focused on decarbonisation and environmental markets. Vertree’s experienced team assists companies and institutions to reach their climate goals. Through established partnerships with project developers, investments into new market innovations and environmental market insights, Vertree will guide Sasol and provide access to existing and future supplies of high-quality carbon credits and other environmental investments.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Sasol’s Vice President for Climate Change, Shamini Harrington, said: “High-quality carbon credits can uplift communities and contribute positively towards national imperatives of alleviating poverty, unemployment and inequality while simultaneously meeting decarbonisation objectives. We are excited to start this journey with Vertree to put in place the tools and frameworks to ensure investment in credible carbon projects that deliver on these imperatives.”
Vertree’s Muireann Mageras commented: “We are delighted to begin our partnership with Sasol. We are committed to supporting Sasol to accelerate its decarbonisation and ensure the delivery of credible environmental and social value through carbon-related projects and investments.”
Sasol is transforming its business towards an absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 (Category 11) net zero ambition by 2050. This includes an interim 30% emissions reduction target on absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, and a 20% reduction in absolute scope 3 (Category 11) emissions over the same period. Sasol believes that, if properly designed and delivered, investment in nature and technology-based solutions can play an important enabling role in addressing hard-to-abate emissions while realising other important environmental and social benefits. Carbon credits will only be used to supplement the company’s existing emission reduction activities and are not intended to replace them.
Sasol is a global chemicals and energy company. We harness our knowledge and expertise to integrate sophisticated technologies and processes into world-scale operating facilities. We strive to safely and sustainably source, produce and market a range of high-quality products in 22 countries, preserving and creating value for stakeholders.
About Vertree Partners
Vertree Partners enables leading companies and institutions to invest in both nature and innovative climate technologies to reach their decarbonisation goals. Founded in 2020, Vertree is focused on driving positive environmental and social impact, and providing its customers access to existing and future supply of high-integrity environmental commodities. It does this through directly financing quality emissions reductions and removals projects; partnering with renowned project developers; investing in innovative organisations and technology-based solutions; and providing its expertise in voluntary and compliance markets, trading, market analytics and risk management. Vertree is wholly owned by Hartree Partners, a leading energy and commodities trading firm with over 25 years’ experience in physical and financial, energy and commodities markets.
Vertree Media contact
Lucy Haines, Vertree Head of Communications
What is Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)?
With a rapidly closing window of opportunity to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, Vertree’s Head of Technological Carbon Removal,…
With a rapidly closing window of opportunity to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, Vertree’s Head of Technological Carbon Removal, David Stead, examines the role of CDR technologies on the pathway to net zero.
Recognised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as required to achieve global and national targets for net zero greenhouse gas emissions, CDR is rising up the global agenda. Reducing emissions is an urgent imperative but ultimately will not alone be sufficient to achieve net zero, certainly not in the limited time frame required and especially considering that global emissions remain on the up (rising 0.9% to 36.8 billion tonnes in 2022).
But CDR it is not without its challenges and of course varying costs. In this article we define CDR, provide an overview of emerging technologies, and examine the reasons for investment today as part of an urgent and comprehensive strategy to avert climate breakdown.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) encompasses any technology, practice or process which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and durably stores it. A medium to high level of durability is considered to be over 100 years. CDR as a term is reserved specifically for deliberate human activities to remove carbon dioxide and is not inclusive of natural processes which remove carbon without intervention.
There are now an increasing number of emerging technologies focused on CDR…
Examples of Technological Carbon Dioxide Removals (T-CDR)
- Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) – This is the capture and permanent storage of CO2 through the use of biofuels (fuels derived from a biogenic source). Naturally, biomass captures carbon as it grows which offsets the emissions of its combustion. The removal potential, however, lies in pairing it with carbon capture and storage to permanently divert the carbon dioxide from the carbon cycle post combustion.
- Biochar/biooil – Often a form of the above, these products are the result of separating carbon from biomass and storing it. Biochar is a substance like charcoal created through a process called pyrolysis, which involves heating up biomass to very high temperatures in low-oxygen conditions. It is typically applied to soils for storage and thought to improve the quality of the soil. Biooil is similar in that it is created through pyrolysis but results in a liquid, which typically will be pumped into geological storage.
- Direct Air Capture (DAC) – One of the most expensive and energy-intensive processes, these technologies capture CO2 from the atmosphere by mechanical means for storage in geological formations or for use in other applications. The technology can be implemented at any given location, not at the source of emissions as with carbon capture.
- Carbon storing materials – There is growth in new innovative processes which create materials to act as sinks to store carbon e.g. concrete or plastics. These are particularly appealing where the sink is a useful product in itself and provides a durable storage solution. However, it is important to complete full carbon lifecycle analysis and confirm net removals are achieved.
- Mineralisation – This is the accelerated capture and storage of CO2 in the form of carbonate minerals such as calcite or magnesite. It uses natural processes but accelerates them by extracting and refining rocks and minerals to increase exposure to the atmosphere. Whilst the chemical pathway is clear and well understood, the timing and rate of sequestration is site and weather dependent. Projects have been working to improve the accuracy of carbon accounting, and crediting mechanisms are only recently emerging.
- Ocean fertilisation – This involves accelerating, by technical means, the natural processes of CO2 uptake by both the water and organisms in oceans. This is done by adding nutrients to the upper ocean waters. The science for these technologies is still being developed, and few projects are in commercial operation today, but the potential is huge and it is an exciting space.
Examples of nature-based carbon removals
- Soil carbon – This encompasses agricultural or land management practices which protect and bolster natural carbon stocks in the soil.
- Afforestation, reforestation and Improved Forest Management (IFM) – Within these mechanisms tree growth is supported, encouraged and protected, and carbon remains naturally in the biomass.
- Blue carbon – This is CO2 capture and storage by biomass specifically in marine or coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass beds.
Nature versus technology?
Nature-based solutions to carbon removal leverage known natural processes and are currently low-cost comparative to technological removals. They restore natural habitats and usually provide numerous social and environmental co-benefits. However, permanence and precise carbon measurement will always be challenging as natural ecosystems are often vulnerable to loss or degradation, bringing the risk of carbon sinks being lost.
Technological carbon removals have the potential to provide permanence and for the carbon to be more easily measured and quantified (in some technologies). However, they are currently more expensive and considered to have as-yet unproven viability at scale. As emerging technologies, they are also yet to have the standardised methodologies and mechanics for accounting and verification of other solutions. Perhaps the most significant concern however relates to the perception that their investment will come at the expense of preserving and restoring natural systems.
But that shouldn’t be the case. In fact, we will need both, at scale, on the journey to net zero. Rather than pit one solution against another, realising the potential of both is the best chance we have of achieving our goals.
Why invest in technological removals today?
While we can invest in nature-based solutions today at comparatively low cost, and we should do this, investment in T-CDR is also essential today to enable these mechanisms to develop, scale and reach their potential in the coming decades as our climate deadlines near and we will need them most.
Due to the cumulative warming potential of CO2 in the atmosphere, the implementation of carbon removal technology is essential as soon as possible. Delaying removals will lessen the chances of these technologies effectively limiting global warming.
What does this mean for your organisational climate strategy?
It is widely accepted (by international target and claim standards such as the Science Based Target initiative, and the Oxford Offsetting Principles) that to achieve net zero, companies will eventually be required to eliminate residual emissions with carbon removals. Removals will also be particularly material for hard-to-abate sectors who are likely to be most exposed to rising costs of carbon and the pressures to decarbonise.
Consequently, the demand for removals is set to increase along with cost and competition over supply. Making investments into key projects and technologies could therefore pay dividends (or carbon credits) in future, and having a diverse portfolio of removals can limit risk and increase advantage.
Very few corporates are making investments in the space of T-CDR yet, which also provides the opportunity of the first-mover advantage in this space. Plus attending to legacy emissions becomes a possibility and could be the next frontier of climate leadership for organisations.
Ultimately, there is no time to lose in advancing all elements of our climate strategies and this includes CDR. If viewed as complimentary to science-aligned reductions and nature-based restoration, investing today can ensure we will have the broadest range of technically and financially viable solutions to tackle the climate crisis.
Tackling the burning issue of cleaner cooking
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2.4 billion people worldwide still cook using traditional open fires and inefficient cookstoves.…
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2.4 billion people worldwide still cook using traditional open fires and inefficient cookstoves. This leaves them vulnerable to indoor air pollution and at risk of noncommunicable respiratory diseases. It is estimated that household pollution was responsible for 3.2 million premature deaths per year in 2020.
Women are most likely to be affected by the health impacts at home, but also more likely to be responsible for the burdensome task of collecting wood fuel to feed these stoves. Consequently, there is less time to focus on other revenue generating activities, which ultimately means less time for their own personal development.
Vertree and its implementation partner on the ground in India, have a vision to tackle these issues and ensure that women in rural communities are the ones who benefit most.
A cleaner cookstove initiative in Odisha
Odisha is a remote rural village in one of India’s least developed states where the community has limited access to alternative cooking methods.
Each family in the project area consumes on average 3.9kg of wood each day cooking meals, making tea, preparing animal feed and processing crops. This wood is burned inside the homes in inefficient open fires.
The project aims to distribute 500,000 high-efficiency cookstoves which will benefit over 2 million individuals in the locality. The stoves are around 3 times more efficient than traditional wood burning stoves and they are portable so they can be used outside, freeing the home from dangerous indoor pollutants.
The “Greenway” stoves are a well-known and popular brand in India but too expensive for these residents were it not for the substantial subsidy that the project and carbon market finance facilitate.
Ensuring the integrity of a cleaner cookstove
The project is focused on the rural community of Odisha which is selected on the basis of need. Local communities here have less access to alternative and more efficient methods of cooking, ensuring that this project is delivering positive impact.
One-to-one advice and support is provided to ensure the effective use of the stove, with the stoves delivered direct to each village and individual users.
The project samples users to measure how much firewood is saved in order to understand the impacts been made as accurately as possible.
The proportion of fuel wood which would be classified as renewable (i.e biomass that naturally replenishes itself) is deducted from any emissions avoidance calculation and the stove efficiency over time is accounted for and tracked.
The hope is that the project can achieve it’s target of 500,000 cookstoves and continue to deliver positive benefits for the community of Odisha in the years to come.
 World Health Organization, Household air pollution (who.int)
If you are interested in supporting this project or finding out more, please contact email@example.com
© Photography by Enric Català Contreras