PRINCIPLES FOR INVESTMENTS IN NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
Averting dangerous climate change will require two simultaneous strategies: “Decarbonizing” energy and industry by reducing and eliminating the use of fossil fuels, and implementing “natural climate solutions” (NCS) on a massive scale by protecting and restoring high-carbon ecosystems such as tropical forests.
By storing and absorbing gigatons of carbon, NCS can provide 30% or more of the reduction in emissions needed to keep temperature rise this century below 2 ˚C. NCS also deliver benefits including sustainable jobs, biodiversity protection, livelihoods for communities, water regulation and pollination services, among others. Yet NCS are underfunded, receiving less than 3% of global climate finance.
Investments in NCS, including offsets, are essential to accelerate climate change mitigation while increasing much-needed finance for natural climate solutions and developing countries. Unfortunately, not all NCS investments adhere to high standards of quality, and not all companies are making adequate progress on climate. To ensure that those we work with share our ambition to decarbonize rapidly, and our commitment to source high-quality emissions reductions, Conservation International follows six principles for its NCS-focused engagements.
These principles define the ideal conditions under which Conservation International provides offsets or engages with companies in development or implementation of NCS investments.
Projects and programs equitably benefit people.
Projects and programs support community and Indigenous rights, promote gender inclusion, meet social and environmental quality standards (CCB or equivalent), share benefits based on negotiated agreement with host communities and governments, and apply a carbon price or other investment that meets these needs.
Projects and programs meet rigorous standards for quality and additionality (Verra/VCS or equivalent) and deliver results verified by a third party.
Projects and programs align with national policy and national carbon accounting.
Projects and programs have support of the national government, comply with host government guidance related to carbon credit claims.
Company aligns with the Paris Agreement and does not undermine Paris Agreement-aligned policies, either directly or through industry associations.
Company targets a halving of operational emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions (scopes 1, 2, and 3) by 2050. Company’s majority business is not fossil fuels. If in a sector impacting forests, company has timebound net-zero deforestation target.
Company discloses its carbon emissions and is making progress toward climate targets.
Offsets? Certainly, but only if company keeps cutting emissions.
Company uses offsets to supplement other decarbonization efforts and does not delay progress in decarbonizing scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, reserving offsets for the hardest-to-abate emissions and for a limited fraction of emissions reductions.
Conservation International’s work aims to replace an extractive economy with a regenerative one through innovation, collaboration and by partnering with Indigenous peoples and local communities.