This ‘Frankenstein’ Represents the Future of Carbon Markets (2)

–Typo fixed May 19, 2023

By Mathew Carr

January 31, 2023– LONDON– This grafted cactus represents the global carbon markets because those climate-saving programs are indeed evolving from something a little dangerous and complicated, represented by the spiky stem, into something bigger and more beautiful (yet still a little treacherous, for now) — the splaying ‘flower’ at the top.

The stem represents both the world of the Kyoto Protocol, a global deal struck in the early 1990s that has extended until 2020, as well as existing voluntary carbon markets, which are usually regulated by non-government organizations.

That existing system is now being fused into the era of the Paris climate deal, where United Nations envoys are grappling with each other to agree the best way to create a carbon-pricing system that will expand quickly and help save the climate in a credible way.

They will work alongside policymakers covering global trade rules, industrial lawmakers, transparency rule setters [NOT SELLERS AS WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY] and accounting standards bodies. It’s a massive team effort.

Voluntary markets may apply to join the UN system more closely, or even remain outside of Paris, depending who you speak with.

Giant oil company Shell and Boston Consulting Group said Jan. 19, less than two weeks ago, that the voluntary carbon market is set to surge, in volume and price. A shortage of supply is coming quicker than expected.

Source: see below

Yet, since then the price of some nature-based credits has plunged 18% — the existing market is showing its thorns and some prices seem to be at record -low levels.

The graft, the inflection point between Kyoto and Paris that we are now at in early 2023, is certainly causing trouble. I suspect there’ll be more volatility to come.

The fusions in carbon markets are many, not just Kyoto vs Paris. There’s compliance vs voluntary that I mentioned before, avoidance vs removal, sovereign vs non sovereign. I could go on and on. The complexity is baffling.

Still, I believe the carbon markets can and will make up an important portion of global climate action, though there seems to be a lack of leadership at the top of the system in deploying policy in the order that will most efficiently and urgently curb heat-trapping emissions and prevent further climate injustice.

See below for some other reasons why the plant is a remarkable proxy for carbon.

Euphorbia Lactea is a Frankenstein of the plant world

The name: If carbon markets succeed, that would be euphoric, yet phobia about them is preventing that.

Greencharm: It’s actually two plants in one: the stem is one plant, and the ‘flower’ at the top is part of another plant in the same family that has been grafted onto it. The incredible thing is that this plant lives quite happily like this, and will grow and thrive in the right conditions.

Watering: Succulent fans beware, although this is a succulent, because of its unique grafted plant nature. its watering needs are quite unusual. You cannot leave it to completely dry out, but it also doesn’t like very moist soil as the roots can rot very easily. Allow top 2-4 inches to dry.

Light: Full, direct sun to partial shade.

Temperature: The ideal growing temperature is 16-29 degrees Celsius.

Origin: Native to tropical Asia, mainly India, and Africa.

Toxicity: Take extreme care when handling this plant it has very sharp spines

(More to come. I’m expanding this picture story over the next few days. Msg me at for a chance to contribute a sentence or two!)


Shell BCG press release / report:

Shell and BCG’s new report shows accelerated growth in carbon markets

19 JAN 2023

The compliance and voluntary carbon markets grew at record pace over the past two years, according to a joint report by Shell and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The compliance market soared to an estimated value of about $850 billion in 2021, nearly 2.5 times the value in 2020 while the voluntary market value quadrupled to about $2 billion, the report showed. In 2022, use of carbon credits continued to grow, with nearly 166 million tonnes of retirements – a record number of retirements. By 2030, the value of the voluntary market is expected to be five times bigger.

“The voluntary carbon market: 2022 insights and trends” presents new projections from BCG on growth possibilities and draws on the views of more than 200 business sustainability leaders to identify trends in the market as it expands.

“The increase in value and volume, despite the current economic headwinds, is a sign of the growing importance of the voluntary carbon market,” said Nick Osborne, General Manager, Global Environmental Products, Shell. “We are seeing a concerted effort from businesses to build sustainable carbon credit strategies that they and their stakeholders have confidence in. We want to leverage that focus to help build a highly credible, scaled-up and transparent carbon market that supports a net-zero emissions future.”

The projections in the report demonstrate accelerating demand and a tightening of supply. Where previous projections had shown demand for credits starting to outstrip supply in 2024, data from 2021 shows this may happen even earlier for some classes of credits, thereby driving up demand particularly for nature-based credits.

Anders Porsborg-Smith, Managing Director and Partner, BCG, said: “As the market continues to grow at an accelerated pace, it will become increasingly important to grow with integrity through a high-grading of credit quality. Similarly, as the carbon market infrastructure becomes more complex with competing standards, compliance regulations, and Article 6 – it will be important to ensure this does not create uncertainty and inhibit long-term investment appetite in the carbon markets.”

From the survey and in-depth interviews carried out as part of the research, five key trends were identified amongst market participants:

  • Buyers see carbon credit spending as non-discretionary and anticipate it growing
  • Carbon credit purchasing strategies are increasingly being influenced by industry groups
  • A reputable monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) framework is the most important purchasing criterion
  • 52% of companies expect removal credits to dominate their portfolio by 2030
  • Participants have limited clarity on the impact of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and corresponding adjustments

The report also discusses perspectives on avoidance and removal credits, as well as giving an update on corresponding adjustments.

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