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Amazon has announced the development of its new carbon credit label, ABACUS Verified Carbon Unit (VCU), which it claims goes above and beyond current methodologies, focusing on ensuring additionality, leakage, and durability standards. The label is expected to improve public trust in the environmental integrity of carbon credits, which is critical for the voluntary carbon market to grow.
ABACUS will generate carbon credits that satisfy additional standards required from traditional VCUs. Amazon is partnering with Verra to create the label. The ABACUS VCU is the first label from a third-party working group, which includes Amazon research scientists, experts at the University of California Berkeley, The Nature Conservancy, and other organisations.
The carbon credit label will focus on two project types, agroforestry, and reforestation, which are challenging areas for ensuring additionality, leakage, and durability, but have great potential for significant climate, social, and environmental benefits. The label requires project developers to consider additionality at the start of the project, track changes in the project's carbon stock over its lifetime while comparing it continuously to a baseline, and use a dynamic baseline to evaluate additionality. ABACUS also supports projects that make the rest of the degraded land equally productive to prevent leakage.
Climate solutions through nature have struggled to prove their durability or permanence. So buffer pools have been created to cover their potential losses from wildfires or harvests. ABACUS crediting will use the same approach as pooled buffer accounts. But they will be from high-quality projects using tree species better adapted to the project area.
The new scheme will also cut down the crediting period from the standard 50 years to only 30, which will have little impact on investors' financial outlook at the time of investment
According to Jamey Mulligan, the architect behind the new carbon credit label, the ABACUS VCU is ‘the first carbon market label that reflects innovations in the carbon accounting itself. [We are] creating an incentive for project developers to road test new project design concepts and carbon quantification methodologies that, at the end of the day, are built to enable confidence that the credits represent what they claim.’ Amazon and Verra will work together to test and refine the ABACUS VCU label to ensure the scheme's success.
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