3 Takeaways from Verge23

Wednesday, 01 Nov 2023

Verge is one of GreenBiz’s biggest sustainability events of the year and gathers corporates, solution providers, NGOs, project developers and investors in San Jose, California. As such, it carries the pulse of what is happening in carbon markets and the broader climate solution industry. So what was top of mind for speakers and attendees? We break down what we heard.

  1. Organizations make moves to lift quality

It’s no secret that all carbon projects haven’t lived up to their promise but it is also no secret that society cannot meet our climate goals without them as part of the solution. Organizations that have been in the headlines shared actions they are taking to lift quality and address the concerns that have been highlighted. Toby Janson-Smith of Verra responded to concerns by saying “We are acutely aware of REDD issues,” and shared updates on their new standards and updated registry, which is expected to display labeling for Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM) Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) and CORSIA eligibility.

As one of the earliest organizations to see their name in headlines associated with carbon project problems, Kevin Maddaford of The Nature Conservancy spoke to the steps they’ve taken to address those concerns. “We’re taking a more conservative approach. Projects undergo two stages of review, including social safeguards.”

  1. The people on the ground should be part of every plan

Whether a panel covered engaging indigenous communities, how to effectively get climate strategies implemented at the city level or how to ensure your projects do no harm to affected communities, the key takeaway was the same- we must  engage local people as critical stakeholders. While the sentiment appears simple on the surface, putting it into action can vary widely depending on the local community and their needs.

For city-scale climate solutions, Ramon Alatorre of 4 Corners Carbon Coalition emphasized that to get buy-in, you don’t come to cities with a list of solutions, but instead let the city ask for what it needs. On the topic of scaling up impact, Boulder, Colorado’s Susie Strife said, “If a community can demonstrate the impact at a local scale, we have a good shot at being able to implement state-wide and system-wide policy change.” Our own Linda Rivera Macedo shared how Calyx Global is working on evaluating the social and environmental risks of carbon projects, which takes into account how any project is effectively supporting the local community in which it operates. 

  1. Seeking clarity on regulation and claims

Ensuring claims align with reality is important whether you’re producing and selling carbon credits or making claims about your decarbonization efforts. Calyx Global co-founder, Duncan van Bergen, helped to lead a workshop on carbon communications to an overflowing room with Lindsay Brewer of Covington & Burling LLP, among others. Updates to the Green Guide were shared, and participants were guided through real-world case studies. 

New California legislation was another topic on many minds at Verge. The week prior to Verge, California dropped multiple disclosure requirements – SB 253SB 261 and AB 1305.  Questions linger about how different organizations may be affected. SB 253 is focused on entities that do $1 billion in revenues or more per year doing business in California and requires them to report Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. For some organizations who were already collecting this information the impact isn’t expected to be significant, but for the majority, this will require monumental efforts. 

SB 261 on the other hand is focused on companies that have $500 million or more in annual revenue and requires them to prepare a climate-related financial risk report that discloses (1) their climate-related financial risk in accordance with the recommended framework of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) and (2) measures they have taken to reduce and manage the climate-related financial risk disclosed in the report. AB1305 will require a business that is marketing or selling voluntary carbon offsets within the state to disclose specified information about the applicable carbon offset project and details regarding accountability measures on their website. If a business is using carbon offsets towards their claims, it requires similar transparent disclosures. We’ll release a full post on this soon.

While at Verge, Calyx Global spoke on three different panels: “Carbon Communications: Consumer Awareness, Greenhushing and Emerging Strategies,” “Beyond Carbon: How to Invest in Projects that Deliver More Holistic Returns” and “The State of Carbon Markets: What’s Next After a Turbulent Year.” We also had the chance to hear from participants at our booth. No matter where we were, we heard the three themes mentioned above. Talking with carbon buyers and climate solutions such as CNaught, and others who are ushering in solutions for carbon quality always gives us excitement for what’s coming next. We look forward to further acceleration of quality in the carbon markets.

About the author

Calyx Global

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