Is there a correlation between carbon credits' GHG integrity and SDG impact?

Friday, 18 Aug 2023

Calyx Global rates projects across two separate frameworks: greenhouse gas (GHG) integrity and impacts towards Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as SDGs (a more detailed explanation can be found in our “Calyx Ratings Explained” report).

We compared the rating distribution across these two frameworks and considered the following questions: (1) Is there a correlation between GHG integrity and SDG impact? (2) Are some project types more likely to deliver higher SDG impacts?

According to our SDG Impact rating framework we only rate SDG contributions that have a recognized sustainability certification and have been audited by an independent third party. Almost half of the projects rated under Calyx GHG framework have an SDG certification as of the writing of this blog. Upon reviewing how these two ratings relate, here is what we learned:

Projects with high GHG integrity are not guaranteed to have a high SDG impact. Projects with high GHG integrity are not necessarily correlated with a high SDG impact. Similarly, there is no observable trend indicating that projects with low GHG integrity tend to have a greater impact on the SDGs. 

Approximately half of the projects Calyx Global has rated to date claim SDG impact. The snapshot below shows the distribution of SDG-certified Calyx-rated projects according to both ratings. The larger the bubble, the higher the number of projects in the particular category. From the projects we have rated to date – noting there may be some selection bias – we cannot yet see a correlation. What we do see is a large portion of projects without certification and, for those that do receive certification, the heaviest weight in our “3” category. 

That said, high SDG impact and high GHG integrity can coexist. While there is no clear correlation between high SDG impact and high GHG integrity, some projects are able to achieve both. For those interested in purchasing credits with high SDG impact that also do good for the planet, we note that Calyx Global has found projects that deliver both of these characteristics.

Variation in SDG impact is more clearly associated with project types. In particular, forest & land and household and community projects tend to deliver higher SDG benefits, although the level of impact is not uniform. By comparison, all other project types – including renewable energy, waste, and manufacturing & industry – tend to not receive SDG certification, or do not consistently generate high SDG impacts, although there are some that deliver higher SDG ratings in our system.

Projects must be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine their SDG impact and GHG integrity. This point has been made before, but it is clear from the diversity of GHG ratings and SDG impacts even amongst the same project type that, while we can note some general patterns, we can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to carbon projects. 

Calyx Global subscribers have access to our full ratings distribution by project type, which is updated as we add new ratings. Request a demo of the Calyx Global platform to learn more.

About the author

Calyx Global

This article includes insights and input from multiple experts in Calyx Global.