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The IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and the IPCC’s 2019 Special Report on Climate Change and Land both highlighted the importance of urgently implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) to remove large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere at comparatively low cost, while simultaneously delivering a host of co-benefits. A portfolio of NBS implemented at a global scale could cost-effectively deliver over one-third of the emissions reductions and removals needed by 2030 to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.1
Despite the enormous potential for drawdown, sufficient finance to drive the scaling of biosequestration2 activities (e.g., through soil carbon in agricultural landscapes or blue carbon in wetlands) has been slow to materialize. Today, NBS only receive about 3 percent of total climate investments globally. A possible way to address this is to connect biosequestration activities to additional sources of finance through the sale of carbon credits in voluntary or compliance markets, thus helping to drive their implementation at scale. Non-carbon crediting standards and/or “softer” carbon accounting approaches (e.g., general climate claims, insetting) may also play a valuable role in scaling up these activities where clear sources of demand for these claims can be leveraged.
In early 2019, Verra launched an internal working group on biosequestration to explore key opportunities and challenges in incentivizing and scaling up biosequestration activities. This internal working group has been focusing on the following biosequestration categories that have the potential for high impact both in terms of emissions removals and co-benefits such as climate adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and improved water quality and quantity: 1) afforestation, reforestation and revegetation (e.g., VCS ARR), 2) agricultural land management (e.g., VCS ALM) and 3) blue carbon (e.g., VCS Wetland Restoration and Conservation (WRC)). Although so far more than 80 successful ARR projects have been developed under the VCS Program, there have been only a handful of ALM and WRC projects despite the eligibility of these activities and availability of relevant methodologies.
To help identify and prioritize the most promising approaches for driving finance to agricultural land management and blue carbon activities, Verra is establishing two external working groups of expert stakeholders — one focused on agricultural land management and the other on blue carbon — to scope out the potential role of standards and supporting methodologies and tools in NBS (including but not limited to the generation of cost-effective, high-quality carbon credits). The working groups will each comprise ~10 stakeholders and run over a six-month period between approximately November 2019 and April 2020, with the possibility of extension. Verra seeks interested and qualified applicants to join these working groups. Applications are invited through Monday, 28 October 2019. The aim is to make selections by 15 November 2019 and hold a first meeting of the working groups before the end of the year.
For further details on the scope of the working groups, criteria for applicants and instructions for applying, please review the Terms of Reference for the Blue Carbon Working Group and for the Agricultural Land Management Working Group. If you have any general comments or questions on Verra’s biosequestration work, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Griscom, B. et al. “Natural Climate Solutions.” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences October 31, 2017 114 (44) 11645-11650.
2 Biosequestration (or biological sequestration) is the process of capturing and storing carbon in living organisms such as plants and soil fungi. Biosequestration is an important component of nature-based solutions (NBS).