Carbon credits — also called Emissions Reduction Credits (ERCs), Carbon Offset Reduction Credits (CORCs), and sometimes Carbon Dioxide Removal Credits (CDRCs) — are an unusual class of financial assets that have suddenly captured the world’s attention. Many of us recognize these credits as part of a vital mechanism for putting a monetary price tag on the environmentally costly activities of big industry. But there’s a degree of mystery, even skepticism, around how exactly these credits are generated and regulated. And that’s where MRV comes in.
What is MRV?
MRV stands for Measurement, Reporting, and Verifying, and it forms the foundation of the carbon credit system. Whether we’re talking about CORCs or CDRCs or any other unit, one carbon credit represents one ton of carbon dioxide or CO2 equivalent (CO2e). So no one can issue an authentic carbon credit without first performing some elegant science and arithmetic to ensure that one bona fide ton of CO2e has been removed, reduced or avoided, depending on the nature of the project.
MRV sits at the core of the whole carbon credit exchange marketplace. Without airtight MRV, it’s impossible to create reliable, trustworthy credits, and the whole system falls apart. The sale and purchase of carbon credits completely depend on a system that can accurately measure emissions, both existing and potential.
It’s hard enough for a company or individual to calculate its carbon footprint based on its own emissions. But on the other side of the equation, calculating how much carbon is NOT being generated by a windmill, or figuring out exactly how much carbon is been collected in the leaves, stems and roots of a mixed forest, the equations can become downright cryptic. Or in the worst cases, purely speculative.
Under ordinary circumstances, carbon dioxide is simply invisible to the naked eye. It cannot be held in the hand or lifted onto a scale. So claims that involve precise numbers or astronomical quantities of CO2 tonnage need some serious methodology and hard-headed science to back them up.
There are an enormous variety of projects out there these days conducting carbon removal and reduction. And that’s a good thing. From protecting mangroves on the coast, to producing biochar in the tropics, to building solar farms in the desert or wind farms in the North Sea, we are living in the heyday of carbon sequestration.
You can decide for yourself whether that is something worth celebrating. But in any case, the assessment of each of these types of projects, to judge its scientific merits and atmospheric effectiveness, requires a stringent methodology, carefully crafted and adopted by teams of highly-credentialed experts. And as every new form of carbon removal is thankfully developed and introduced, new methodologies must be adopted to measure, with precision, their contributions to carbon reduction.
Finally, from those strict and rigorous methodologies, we must deploy MRV tools that can track and confirm — in other words, Measure, Report and Verify — all the readings for all the key metrics. It is the responsibility of the project managers to provide all the data and evidence, using whatever tools are available and appropriate. A third party can then examine that data in order to finalize the carbon credit creation, or review the project in the event of an audit.
Working within this industry, it is imperative to us that these MRV tools deliver the highest levels of compliance and provide the strictest form of verification. These steps and safeguards are essential for maintaining integrity, transparency and accountability in this young and quickly evolving realm of credit credits.
That’s why Planboo has developed and insists on working with digital MRV tools and technology.