Makena Ireri – Chair, Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets for Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) and Paul Muthaura – interim CEO of Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI)
There’s good reason to be excited about carbon credits in Africa. Leveraged by African communities for African communities, they represent not only a conduit for scalable climate finance, but a generator of equitable economic growth. The Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) has been set up in response to this opportunity with one overriding objective: to scale carbon markets in Africa that have integrity, equity, and transparency. There is no question that “decarbonizing the global economy is also an opportunity to contribute to equality and shared prosperity.” “The continent has the fundamentals to pioneer a climate positive pathway as a thriving cost-competitive industrial hub with the capacity to support other regions in achieving their net zero ambitions.”
Africa is uniquely positioned to tackle climate change while improving livelihoods and protecting biodiversity. Transforming energy generation and usage patterns on the continent will reduce emissions, transform health outcomes, improve energy access, and create better livelihoods. Africa’s energy-intensive industries can “trigger a virtuous circle of renewable energy deployment and economic activity [including] shifting the primary processing of Africa’s raw material exports to the continent.” Sustainable agricultural practices allow yields to be boosted to enhance food security while minimizing negative environmental impacts. African farmers can both lock up carbon and improve productivity. The continent has priceless biodiversity such as the Congo basin but also historically degraded landscapes desperate for restoration such as the forest habitats in Madagascar.
“Africa is not historically responsible for global warming, but bears the brunt of its effects, impacting lives, livelihoods and economies through disproportionate burdens and risks from climate change. [It however] possesses both the potential and the ambition to be a vital component of the global solution to climate change.” Carbon credits present a scalable solution for unlocking this potential. Up to 2,000Mt CO2 worth of climate change mitigation could be financed by carbon credits per annum by 2030. Carbon credits are the means by which finance can flow to support sustained positive impact that would not happen otherwise. Credit projects can create jobs, increase climate resilience, and build capacity in the local communities and within emerging economies. Done right, carbon credits present a fresh economic opportunity and offer an important tool for working towards the US$250 billion fresh investment needed in Africa’s natural environment and agriculture by 2030 to align with the Paris Agreement.
To help build this marketplace, ACMI is convening key players to raise awareness, build capacity, and facilitate dialogue to inform progress to action. That includes more than 20 African governments, more than 100 project developers and multiple global buyers, who have already signed declarations of intent to purchase 650 million dollars’ worth of credits generated on the continent. ACMI is working to release a showcase of projects from across Africa, highlighting more than 100 separate initiatives across the continent.
Carbon credits must however inspire the confidence of all participants in this marketplace as a key tool in reducing emissions and financing removals. Buyers have to be able to trust what they’re buying while using credits in a way that drives genuine emissions reductions. Governments need to embrace the opportunities created through a conducive environment, communities in which projects are undertaken must be fully involved in their design, implementation, and fair benefit sharing should be evident. How is all this to be done?
- Be explicit about the high bar on integrity across the value chain. The supply of credits should rely on rigorous, independent monitoring, reporting, and verification against standards that ensure projects result in real climate impact. On the demand side, ACMI’s vision is for carbon markets to offer an additional avenue for corporates and governments to be able to compensate for any residual emissions after maximum direct emissions reductions have taken place, accelerating the journey to net zero.
- Ground African carbon credits in equity. We need fair and transparent benefit sharing, the recognition of the safeguards we have to put in place and a fundamental respect for community land rights. African citizens have to believe that investments associated with carbon credits are fair and feasible, and that they contribute to local development. Purchasers, both regional and global, are watching more and more closely not least because they know they’re rightly subject to more intense scrutiny from their own consumers and citizens.
- Be open about the nature of this challenge, and the scale of the journey. All of us involved in carbon marketplaces, whether in Africa or beyond, are engaged in a project of continuous improvement. We’ve put many lessons to good use already, but we have to keep improving. Building a culture of transparency across the market will facilitate open dialogue and collaborative efforts for improvement.
Building on years of work by local actors, ACMI is already well on our way supporting the growing market through a range of activities in advocating for, advising, and convening players across the value chain, translating to economic as well as environmental impact. ACMI aims to align with both the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM), and the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) to promote end-to-end integrity. Supplier inclusion in the ACMI Showcase is subject to a clear set of integrity principles, including compulsory verification using standards recognized by the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance. ACMI’s aim is that the Showcase is aligned with ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles. These integrity principles also extend to covering any intermediaries and buyers ACMI engages with.
Training programs for carbon project auditors on the continent will be run, helping develop expertise that’s appropriate and effective in African contexts, supporting a high-integrity supply. A training programme for representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities has also been designed in line with partners, allowing for the dissemination of tools, information and assistance to safeguard their interests and agree benefit-sharing systems from a strong position. We have also amplified the messaging on the ICVCM Core Carbon Principles to an African audience, including project developers and local communities.
Seven African nations including Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana, and D.R.C are working on the development and implementation of country carbon market activation plans. A further 13 have expressed interest in ACMI’s support. The Activation Plans are central to supporting the “development and implementation of policies, regulations and incentives aimed at attracting local, regional and global investment in green growth and inclusive economies.” ACMI is working with countries to build a holistic approach to and understanding of carbon markets across voluntary, compliance, and country-to-country and country-corporate transactions through Article 6. This work promises to close the loop between an ecosystem infrastructure that unites different parts of economic and civil society in Africa with the people, firms, and countries working towards the Paris Agreement.
It’s early days, but we’re moving fast. We’re keen to work with even more partners and stakeholders to make a carbon credit market for Africa a powerful force for good both for the continent and the world.
You can find out more about ACMI and sign up for a newsletter at africacarbonmarkets.org/contact-us