Fast and accurate proof of additional sequestration for carbon offsets through AI

Amazon deforestation is one of the most tragic events which are happening in front of our eyes. The reasons behind deforestation are a complex interaction of global forces: natural, political and economic. There are no easy and one-size-fits-all solutions, but it is clear that the protection and restoration of the Amazon forests must be supported on the ground. Today there are global mechanisms which local communities can tap into, including the mechanisms of payment for ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration projects.

The three key criteria of the effectiveness of carbon sequestration projects are additionality, permanence and the ability to prevent carbon leakage. An article on carbon accounting in the Guardian has stressed that the proof of additionality and accuracy of the accounting remain highly problematic. As long as this problem is not solved, achieving the world net zero carbon by 2050 targets is unrealistic. In this post, we focus on additionality and its measurement.

The VCS Peru Amazon project (a REDD conservation project), by Bosque Amazonicos SAC (BAM) and Brazil nut producers, has supported livelihoods of three hundred small concessional landowners through generating carbon credits and the selling of Brazil nut. The landowners have been receiving concessions from the government for a certain amount of logging. The alternative income generated through BAM allows to reduce the amount of logging which they will actually do. This difference between the concession and the reduced logging creates an additional carbon stock – an additionally reduced rate of deforestation. It is claimed and translated into carbon credits through Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). The revenue is shared between BAM, the community and VCS.  

The most important contribution of Earthbanc is that the company has developed and effectively used a cutting-edge technology of carbon auditing which allows to significantly increase accuracy and frequency of audits, which can cut down verification costs. Normally verification within the VCS system is carried out once in five years through examining a sample of forest by an auditor hired by the project organisation. However, with the Satellite and Remote Sensing AI, which allows interpreting satellite data in real time, the auditing can happen yearly (or even more often, depending on the need). Furthermore, the data can encompass the entire project area over millions of hectares, and there is no need to rely only on a small sample and extrapolate that to the rest of the forest, which is how traditional verification works. Increasing the area and the frequency of assessments at a reduced cost are the two essential ways to continuously prove the additionality, permanence or leakage of a project. 

This video shows an area of Amazon forest in Peru over the span of twenty years. Since the project started in 2009, the deforestation in the project area (denoted by the light-green colour) has been significantly slower than in the areas outside the area. Satellite data allows to compare the much faster spread of the ‘brown spots’ in the larger area, signifying a higher deforestation rate. This simple demonstration shows how the technology Eartbanc uses to interpret the satellite data enables an accurate estimation of the actual carbon which is being sequestered, given the number and type of trees, their growth rate, and other factors. 

The accuracy in the measurement of additionality is a central criterion in choosing a carbon offset product for companies who want to achieve net zero themselves, or offer their clients a trustworthy way to offset their carbon footprint, without the risk of greenwashing. Earthbanc has a range of products and has monitored and supported a number of projects on the ground. What all of them have in common is the accuracy and reduced cost of additionality, permanence and leakage measurement, which has been a decisive factor for our clients including Telia Company AB, in choosing to buy carbon offsets with Earthbanc.

What Our Customers Are Saying

“Telia Company chose Earthbanc to supply carbon offsets due to their Satellite and Remote Sensing AI data driven approach to auditing carbon offset projects. They ensure the carbon being claimed is accurate and precise when reported”.