News: 23/01/23

A recent article in the Guardian, suggesting that “more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless” has sparked much debate on the value of carbon markets, in particular credits generated from REDD+ projects. While the data this article draws on does not include any from Plan Vivo certified projects, the analysis is presented in a way which casts doubts on the credibility of all carbon credits. As such, we felt it appropriate to make a short statement to help balance the discussion. 

At the Plan Vivo Foundation we strongly believe that the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) provides an important mechanism to channel finance to communities and smallholders in developing countries, who are at the sharp end of the impact of climate change.  This is done when responsible buyers purchase high-quality, fairly-traded carbon credits. In doing so, buyers invest in projects that produce numerous benefits beyond carbon reductions or removals, as is the case with Plan Vivo Certificates (PVCs).   

Central to the Plan Vivo model is a requirement in our standard that all projects are designed as part of an inclusive and participatory approach with local communities and stakeholders. Project coordinators also need to commit to transparent and equitable benefit sharing of carbon revenues with these stakeholders. In our view, this is not only the right thing to do but also essential to secure community buy in and manage any risk associated with the climate benefits.  

The evidence from our projects over the last 25 years affirms that such an approach strengthens permanence claims and significantly reduces the risks of reversals. In addition, all Plan Vivo projects must have a holistic approach, so as well as delivering real, additional and verified carbon benefits (that are certified as part of a robust Validation and Verification process) they must also demonstrate tangible impact for people and biodiversity as well as meeting social and environmental safeguards, including FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent).  

Through this approach, PVF now supports a global network of certified projects (including afforestation/reforestation, avoided deforestation/REDD and blue carbon) in over 20 countries, has reached over 100,000 people, delivered more than 7 million tonnes CO2 of planned emission reductions and channelled over 25 million USD directly to communities and smallholders. For real examples of this please visit our projects page. 

At Plan Vivo, we accept that there are technical challenges to exactly estimating carbon benefits and we are very open to working with others to improve the accuracy of our models and methodologies, which are in line with best practice. That said, we are confident that all projects certified under Plan Vivo are delivering credible and tangible climate impact. We feel strongly, especially in the context of the scale of the climate emergency, that the VCM continues to play an important role in channelling climate finance to those who need it most. When done well this can deliver positive and lasting impact for people, nature, and climate. 

We always welcome questions, queries and discussions, and would encourage anyone who would like more information to contact us at: [email protected]