Carbon Avoidance and Removal – Is one better than the other?

When the bath is overflowing it's emptying the tub versus turning off the tap

Shaun Mattingley


4 mins

At Fenix Carbon, we believe that we need to work on all fronts in order to achieve what is required to limit long term climate change before it’s too late. There is an analogy that has been used and we think it’s a good one – when the bath is overflowing and we want to avoid disaster, we definitely need to start emptying the tub, but turning off the tap may also be a good idea!

Carbon offset projects are usually, in one way or another, unique due to the huge number of individual characteristics that constitute the project as a whole, therefore we cannot reasonably form a blanket opinion that avoidance projects are better than removals nor vice versa. In fact the same applies to any  sub-set of either of those two categories. However, we can and must recommend that offsetters carefully check projects, especially earlier ones, for signs of over promise and under delivery and not to forget the all-important co-benefits, or in some cases, detriment, to local communities and local biodiversity. Your major considerations should include:

  • Additionality – how effective was/is the project in avoiding or removing more CO2 that “business as usual”.
  • Permanence – how permanent is the CO2 avoidance/removal throughout the life of the project – for example, if a forestry project has been affected by forest fires, how has that been addressed in the ongoing monitoring and report submissions to the certifier?
  • Co-benefits – what has this project brought to the local community and/or local biodiversity?
  • Sustainable Development Goals – “SDGs” – what are you looking for in a project in terms of these goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015

In conclusion, both carbon avoidance and carbon removal projects can have their pros and cons, but there is no doubt of the positive impact when done properly – the main overriding factor is the quality and at Fenix Carbon that is the key.

Offsetting Made Simple

At Fenix Carbon, you can find a wide range of projects offered by our network of project developers. We ensure all credits listed on our marketplace are of the highest quality standard. This doesn’t just mean that we accept certification by Verra, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry, Climate Action Reserve, PlanVivo or UNFCCC CDM (although we do insist on it) - it means that we have our own internal standards in addition. Therefore, the bar is already set high – however you have the opportunity to dig deeper into what suits you – your company, organization – your aspirations and goals. You can check the registry of the certifier (standard) to look closer at the documentation, maybe with the guidelines as set out above at the forefront of your mind.

If there is still not quite what you want listed, contact us, we will do our best to find exactly what you need. When it comes to purchasing, the transaction is simple and secure, and your credits will be retired by the developer on the registry as a public record – in your name – and you will receive certification to confirm as such. If you have your own registry account and wish to take delivery, then the developer will transfer the credits for you to retire at a later date. Do be aware though, if you are a PAS 2060 certified company or organization, you are required to retire the credits within 12 months of purchase. Click here to learn more about PAS 2060 certification.

Fenix Carbon is unleashing the next million planet saving projects.

Our mission is to harness the power of data to unlock capital for early stage carbon projects.

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