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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Featured Pathways

More pathways

The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

More pathways

Book a demo

Pricing

Ready to get started?

Plans & Membership

Our Platform

Expert led content

+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

Testing & certification

Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

Integrations

Connect Sustainability Unlocked to your current platform

Featured Content

More featured content

The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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High Integrity Carbon Offsets

High Integrity Carbon Offsets

Sam Hope

5 years: Carbon Markets

How can we identify if a carbon credit is worth its weight in salt (or emissions)? Join Sam Hope as he explores high-integrity carbon offsets.

How can we identify if a carbon credit is worth its weight in salt (or emissions)? Join Sam Hope as he explores high-integrity carbon offsets.

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High Integrity Carbon Offsets

11 mins 36 secs

Overview

There are four metrics we use to measure carbon offset quality: baseline (reference by which we calculate GHG removal), additionality (did they occur because of the carbon credit scheme), leakage (did it cause unintended increase in GHG elsewhere) and permanence (are the reduction or removals permanent or can they be reversed). The integrity and quality of these offsets are governed by a few organisations in the VCM, namely the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Oxford Principles.

Key learning objectives:

  • Outline how to assess carbon offset quality

  • Understand who governs VCM integrity

  • Identify best practice questions to screen projects

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Summary
How do we assess offset quality?
A high-quality carbon credit accurately or conservatively represents greenhouse gas emission reductions or removals achieved through Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) activities.

1. Baseline 
Baseline emissions are the reference against which GHG reductions or removals are calculated. 

2. Additionality 
Carbon offset projects are additional if they would not have occurred in the absence of the revenues from the carbon credits. 

3. Leakage 
Leakage refers to the displacement or unintended increases in GHG emissions caused by a project outside of its boundary. 

4. Permanence 
Offset credits must be associated with GHG reductions that are permanent. If an emission reduction or removal can be reversed then it does not serve as a compensatory tool. 

Who governs VCM integrity?

– The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market is an independent governance body focused on setting and enforcing global standards for the development of high-quality carbon credits. 

– The Stockholm Environment Institute is an international organisation producing independent, peer-reviewed research on a range of environmental and social subjects. They published the Offset Guide which addressed common concerns about carbon credits. 

– The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Offsetting are a set of guidelines developed by climate scientists from the University of Oxford. The Oxford Principles demonstrate how a net zero society can be achieved with the utilisation of carbon offsets and the voluntary carbon market. 

What basic questions can buyers ask to screen for low quality projects?

1. Look for offsets that are third-party verified
Projects registered at reputable, established standards have been through robust frameworks.

2. Consider the type of project
Researching the history and methodology of your chosen project type is important in making sure it has a high likelihood of reducing or removing the expected volume of greenhouse gases. 

3. Check for permanent carbon reductions
Look for carbon projects that result in permanent carbon reductions to ensure that you are supporting projects with lasting climate benefits to back up any offset claim.

4. Look for transparency and accountability
Look for developers that have a good reputation and a track record of successfully implementing offset projects. 

5. Consider the price 
Cheap is often synonymous with low quality. If a project is selling offset credits for a price below $2 per tonne then it can be hard to argue that the project truly depended on offset credit revenue for its implementation. 

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Sam Hope

Sam Hope

Sam Hope is the Senior Carbon Advisor at Plannet Zero, a tech company dedicated to developing smart carbon footprinting software for SMEs. He joins from Redshaw Advisors, an advisory firm that will help organisations clearly understand the assignment of net zero.

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