Meta and Google among co-founders of new nature-based carbon removals coalition

Image: Ponterra

The new Symbiosis Coalition aims to contract up to 20 million tonnes of high-quality carbon removal credits from nature-based projects, such as forest and peatland restoration, by 2030.

A statement on the Coalition’s website explains that the market for nature-based carbon removals has “been hampered by a perceived lack of high-quality restoration projects and uncertainty around willingness to pay”.

Coalition members see the demand signals sent by collective, long-term agreements to buy as key to scaling investment.

On integrity, the Coalition will draw up a quality standard and publicly outline how it is measuring whether projects will deliver meaningful climate impacts in the long-term.  The standards should align with those from the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market and the Core Carbon Principles at a minimum.

Common challenges in the market at present include assessing whether environmental benefits are additional, protecting projects from climate shocks as extreme weather becomes more frequent and intense, and ensuring that projects benefit rather than harming local communities.

Supporting the coalition is ZOMALAB, an organisation with philanthropic and venture capital arms that supports nature conservation and restoration in the USA and Chile.

Further corporate buyers of carbon credits, nature-based project developers and investors are being encouraged to express their interest in joining.

Microsoft’s chief sustainability officer Melanie Nakagawa said the Coalition will help to build the global market for “high-quality nature-based solutions that are vital to addressing climate change”.

“Continued investment in carbon removal is important not just to meet our goals but for the world to meet its goals,” she said.

Corporate ambitions

Back in 2020, Microsoft announced a new commitment to become carbon-negative by 2030 and to remove the equivalent of all its historical greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The tech giant is investing in both nature-based solutions and man-made carbon removal technologies to meet this goal. Its portfolio of carbon removal projects range from direct air capture, to advanced rock weathering, to bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Just this month, Microsoft inked its third carbon removal purchase deal with a nature-based project. It will offtake 1.6 million tonnes of credits over 30 years from the developers of a 10,000-hectare reforestation project in Panama. This project is being facilitated by Ponterra, Carbon Streaming and Rubicon Carbon, paid for entirely upfront.

As for the other members of the Symbiosis Coalition, Salesforce is aiming to halve emissions across all scopes by financial year 2031 and deliver at least a 90% reduction by financial year 2041. It is seeking verification from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) on this latter goal after verifying the former.

Google has a 2030 net-zero target covering its operations and value chain, as does Meta. Neither are SBTi-verified.

Related blog: The case for investing in nature-based solutions in 2024

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