What We’re Talking About When We Talk About Carbon Projects
Just as there are tons of different ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint, there are also tons of different carbon projects out there, reducing the planet’s carbon footprint and benefiting local communities in innumerable ways. And with the carbon market growing faster than ever, more and more organizations are developing or turning to carbon projects to take advantage of this rapidly growing sector.
But as is the case with any kind of quick growth or adoption, rapidly adding more of something to an already crowded space can add tremendous confusion and uncertainty to the process, and that’s particularly true of carbon projects.
So before we dig into what makes a “good” carbon project, let’s take a step back and look at what exactly a carbon project is, what kinds of carbon projects there are, and how we evaluate whether a carbon project is worth your support — or as we like to say, whether it’s actually Carbon Done Correctly.
What is a Carbon Project?
As you already know, carbon offsets can be produced by a variety of activities — from ones that actively reduce emissions to those that focus on increasing carbon sequestration. No matter the particular method for reducing the emissions, a “carbon project” is the catch-all term for any activity used to actively keep additional carbon emissions from entering our atmosphere.
Any good carbon offset project also produces social and environmental benefits beyond just emissions reductions. Depending on the type of project, these could be anything from improving local infrastructure, providing employment or training opportunities, improving energy access, enhancing air and water quality, and many more.
Carbon projects are most often primarily supported through carbon offsets — and while there are countless carbon projects of all shapes and sizes in the world today, the wide majority of them can typically be organized into a few types of projects.
Like its name says, this type of carbon project focuses on avoiding carbon emissions by creating a situation where the need to use carbon emissions creating energy is avoided in the first place, never even giving excess CO2 a chance to enter the atmosphere in the first place. These are widely seen as perhaps some of the simplest carbon projects to implement, because they can easily leverage existing technology to make an immediate impact on emissions — and immediately benefit the communities surrounding them.
For an example of Avoidance in action, look no further than Proyecto Mirador. This project works to provide local communities with cleaner burning cookstoves so locals no longer have to rely on traditional wood burning stoves in their homes. By using more efficient stoves, we’re helping them not only reduce carbon emissions, but also drastically improve air quality in their homes by avoiding the inefficient use of fossil fuels.
In a similar vein to clean cookstoves, biogas capture projects also help users avoid carbon emissions by allowing them to capture methane emissions from waste and convert it to renewable energy. When there’s no need to rely on carbon emissions creating fuel sources, they can be avoided and cleaner sources can be utilized.
Carbon is stored in soil through a process called soil carbon sequestration. In this cycle, regular photosynthetic processes and natural plant matter decay via soil microbes and create soil organic matter which traps and sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere. High levels of organic matter indicate a healthy soil system, which means that particular plot of land can adequately store carbon. This healthier soil is rich and loamy and great at absorbing/storing carbon — as opposed to the thin soil found in deforested areas.
Deforestation, land clearing for agriculture, mining, and other human processes strip the land of soil organic matter, resulting in more CO2 being released into the atmosphere. As such, carbon protection projects involve actively protecting and effectively managing existing natural sources of carbon storage like peatlands, forests, jungles, and grasslands, as well as protecting them from industrial development.
Similar to ensuring the health of forests and grasslands, this type of carbon project actively adds additional sources of carbon absorption at a scale designed to make an impact in the fight against carbon emissions.
For example, our Sea of Change project is a Blue Carbon project, meaning that it highlights and facilitates carbon capture via the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. By helping locals plant mangroves, which can capture 5 times more carbon than terrestrial trees and sequester carbon up to 400% faster than land-based tropical rainforests, this project not only helps to absorb carbon, it also protects shorelines while helping locals thrive.
How We Make Sure Carbon Projects are Carbon Done Correctly
Not all carbon projects are created equally, though — which is why, out of the thousands of existing carbon projects out there, only a handful ever make it to the Cool Effect platform. Every single one of our carbon projects are scientifically verified, carefully selected, and meticulously analyzed to ensure they’re doing what they claim to be doing: reducing carbon emissions. Here’s our simple, three-part approach to evaluating carbon projects.
We scour the globe to find the best carbon projects that measurably reduce greenhouse gases. Our IRL site visits ensure that each project is financially stable, logistically sound, and capable of doing good for both people and the planet.
With a rigorous scientific verification process, we ensure that carbon projects are legitimately reducing carbon emissions. We confirm the science and financials, making sure each carbon project is 100% additional and meets the toughest requirements of the world’s major carbon standards (including the United Nations).
We carefully choose the best of the best, providing greater certainty and traceability for the projects in our community. Our selection process ensures verified emission reductions and confidence in knowing that 90% of each contribution goes directly to the projects.
When you contribute to a Cool Effect project, you know exactly what you’re getting. Our strict evaluation process means you get a better, more sustainable way to use carbon projects to make an impact. We hold nothing back, transparently sharing our views, expertise, and vital stats on each project, all so you can get a clearer picture of how your contribution to a carbon project is actively helping reduce carbon emissions.
No matter what type of project you choose to contribute to, if you choose it with help from our Carbon Done Correctly approach, you can rest assured that it will make an impact for the better — and that’s the best type of carbon project there is.