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Understand the Carbon Market in One Number

Vaughan Lindsay | 22 April 2022 |

Today is Earth Day—a day to celebrate our planet and take action to protect the environment. But one day is not enough. At Climate Impact Partners, Earth is our focus every day, and we are joined by hundreds of leading corporates, NGOs, governments, and project developers committed to taking action and delivering results. We all know there are many important facts and figures related to Earth’s changing climate, but one number sets the bar for ambition. 50 billion. This is the real Earth Day challenge.

50 billion tonnes graphic

Celebrate Earth but don’t forget what it’s up against
Every year, we emit around 50 billion tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) into the atmosphere and we need to get that number down as much and as quickly as possible. Supporting emission reduction projects is a great way to do it.

To remember it more easily, think 50/50 or 50 by 50, because we have until 2050 to reduce our annual net greenhouse gas emissions to zero to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a livable planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated we must halve emissions by 2030 and that has led us at Climate Impact Partners to commit to reducing 1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions by that date. However, in the IPCC’s latest report, emissions must peak by 2025 if we are to have any chance of meeting our goal. So, that gives us three years to deliver some real, tangible results.

The carbon market exists for this reason
It’s impossible to distill the complexities of climate science into one single fact or figure, but 50 billion is a focal point for the carbon market. The carbon market exists so that projects working to reduce emissions receive the funding they need to make it happen. 50 billion is an enormous number, but I believe it is better to know your challenge so you can fully face it. Then we can break this huge problem down into an actionable challenge to reduce 50 billion tonnes of carbon emissions per year to zero.

Delivering action
While the voluntary carbon market (VCM) has existed for more than two decades, its exponential growth in the past few years shows that people are taking climate action more seriously than ever before. The corporate sector is largely responsible for this, as more and more companies are setting ambitious carbon reduction goals. Our research on Fortune Global 500 companies with net zero targets shows commitments have tripled in the past year.

By using the VCM companies are able to take action today and meet targets while they work on longer term decarbonisation strategies. Through commitments to carbon neutrality, 100% renewable energy and net zero they are going further faster and putting a price of carbon into the business to incentivize more action.

Climate Impact Partners logo

Climate Impact Partners is the merger of two world-leading companies in the voluntary carbon market, ClimateCare and Natural Capital Partners. Joining forces allows us to scale up our impact and work with our project partners and clients to accelerate change. Through our global portfolio of emission reduction projects that include nature-based solutions, renewable energy, transportation efficiency, and household energy projects like efficient cookstoves, contributing to our goal of reducing 1 billion tonnes by 2030.

We can’t meet our goal without our climate-leading clients and inspiring project partners so we asked some about their goals for addressing 50 billion tonnes of carbon emissions:

At VMware, our goal to achieve net zero by 2030 will require collaboration across our value chain, as well as a diversified portfolio of carbon avoidance and removal projects. We aim to support innovation that accelerates opportunities in the carbon market. We’re thrilled to see this Earth Day commitment to 50B and are proud to be a part of it.

-Natasha Tuck (she, her), Director, Sustainability and ESG

In Guatemala, demand for fuelwood used to boil and purify water has contributed to the rampant loss of more than half of the country’s forests in the last 50 years. Ecofiltro was developed so that families can reduce firewood usage dramatically as boiling water is no longer necessary. Carbon finance has helped Ecofiltro grow—saving entire forests from being chopped down every year while improving lives and reducing carbon emissions.

-Philip Wilson, CEO, and founder, Ecofiltro