Trust and Carbon Removal: Can We Verify Carbon Removal Has Occurred?

Tomorrow’s Air is part of a community of organizations striving to generate support for carbon removal innovators. With broad support, emerging climate technologies for carbon removal will become more accessible and efficient. At Tomorrow’s Air we are focused on providing information and inspiration to travel businesses and travelers - a population with the potential for significant influence. In addition to awareness building and education however, there’s another fundamental ingredient necessary for scaling carbon removal, and that is trust. People need to be able to trust that the money they flow through to carbon removal suppliers is delivering on its promise. 

Trust will deepen in carbon removal when the foundation of a robust monitoring, reporting and verification system is in place. Today, the details of what this system should look like and how it should operate are hotly debated. Who will be the arbiter of quality? Stepping back further, who should decide who will be the arbiter of quality? What should constitute quality in carbon removal? 

At the moment, it’s a very dynamic topic: researchers recently itemized at least 30 standard developing organizations proposing at least 125 standard methodologies for carbon removal from 23 different types of carbon removal activities. Check out this visual mapping of their findings. Specific to the field of direct air capture and the carbon removal supported by Tomorrow's Air members, Climeworks, along with its mineralization partner Carbfix, are supporting the development of a certification methodology dedicated to carbon dioxide removal via direct air capture and underground mineralization storage.

In order to take action in the absence of a fully formed monitoring, reporting and verification system for carbon removal, companies like Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify and many others have developed their own methods for gauging the integrity of the innovators they support. In particular this report, developed by CarbonDirect and Microsoft,  Criteria for High Quality Carbon Dioxide Removal, is helpful. 

Carbon180’s Peter Minor laid out principles for monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon removals in a recent Airminers panel discussion, observing that high quality monitoring will provide:

  • A direct accounting of carbon removal from atmosphere, evidence that it is occurring in the amount and timescales claimed
  • Reversal traceability over time, meaning is it possible to measure when carbon dioxide removed from the environment is re-released 
  • Data transparency with all stakeholders
  • Positive incentive structure to minimize corruption or report bad actors

Until these questions are resolved and structure is put in place, expansion in this sector will continue to depend on the early adopters. At Tomorrow’s Air we understand our individual traveler customers and travel company partners have put their trust in us to choose reliable carbon removal suppliers to support at this early stage of the market’s development. Find out more details about why we trust our first carbon removal supply partner, Climeworks, in our FAQ.

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