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Permanence for Several Decades. Key topic for Carbon Credit Projects.

Today is Tuesday, 18 June 2024.

Earth is there for about 4,5 billion years, the Carboniferous (geologic era when many coal beds were formed) was about 350-300 million years ago, dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago, the first human ancestors appeared between 5-7 million years ago, the last Ice Age ended about 12 thousand years ago and nowadays our human life expectancy will be hardly over 100 years.

This ruler, beyond human time, gives us a notion of what is called geological time.

Carbon released today in the atmosphere will remain there for centuries.

Carbon projects that sequester or avoid emissions - to be entitled to carbon credits - have to assure storage or sequestration for a significant period of time. Several decades. Several.

ICVCM Core Carbon Principles, for example, indicate that projects will have to monitor and report on emissions reductions and removals for at least 40 years.

Other sources indicate 100 years as the reference for carbon removals to considered “permanent”

Given this timeframe, risks involved are high. And higher in the case of nature based solutions (NBS) such as forestry conservation projects (REDD+ projects). Just think about wildfires, when all forest carbon stored in its trees and soil can be released. On the other hand, engineering solutions such as solar and wind farms carry less risk, as the benefit is “not stored”.

As a mitigation, carbon projects are subject to “buffer pools” of carbon credits, basically a percentage of the credits set aside unavailable for trading on voluntary carbon markets, as a kind of insurance pool. In spite of that, there were already cases for which the “buffer pool mechanism” was not sufficient.

All in all, ensuring permanence of carbon credits is perceived as the difficult part. And given all these circumstances, what matters is integrity (*) along the way, during decades of project, 100% of the time after commitment.

Click at the image below to see how the Australian Clean Energy Regulator positions itself about all these elements. It is a very clear and thorough reference. In their case, permanence obligation is either 25 or 100 years.

Important to highlight how carbon credits are legally defined “down under”: in Australia carbon credits are considered personal property.

(*) Carbon Credit Markets is working on a marketplace to support the assessment of the integrity of carbon credits. If you are interested in offering documentation or due diligence relating to your jurisdiction, please send an email to with the subject “Integrity Marketplace”.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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