Carbon markets can help finance important projects that would not otherwise be viable.Tapping carbon market potential requires robust carbon accounting methodologies to be developed and approved by carbon credit standards bodies.The role of the CCS+ Initiative in this context is to provide the quality assurance framework needed to build trust in the market, ensuring that projects lead to real, quantifiable and additional emission reductions and removals.
What is the purpose of the CCS+ Initiative?
The CCS+ Initiative aims to leverage carbon markets and to scale up global decarbonization and carbon removal efforts. The initiative aims to do this through enabling much needed financial incentives through carbon markets that make technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, removal and storage economically viable and robust. Most pathways compatible with the 1.5 temperature goal of the Paris Agreement include the use of CCS and technological CDR. Such solutions will be critical, both as a decarbonization tool and in meeting global climate targets.
How is the CCS+ Initiative different from past efforts in voluntary carbon markets?
The CCS+ aspires to be the leading initiative worldwide that will create carbon credit pathways for CCS, long term CCU and technological CDR, and later on also short term CCU applications, with environmental integrity and innovation as guiding principles. It is the first initiative to work on both carbon removal and reduction approaches and technologies, with a strong and unique representation of technology and solution providers, emitters and civil society. The CCS+ Initiative is also one of the first efforts to come up with a comprehensive framework to cover a broad range of technologies and solutions in a modular manner.
What is CCS+?
Carbon Capture and Storage is a process whereby CO2 is captured at point source or from the atmosphere (+), directly or indirectly, and stored in a way that it is not released into the atmosphere within a climate-relevant time horizon. By applying CCS+, it is possible to mitigate the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate, depending on the outcome of a life-cycle analysis.
What is CCU+?
Carbon Capture and Utilization is a process in which CO2 is captured at point source or from the atmosphere (+), directly or indirectly, and then used to produce a new product. Depending on the outcome of a life-cycle analysis, CCU solutions can have climate mitigation benefits.
What is CDR?
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is a process whereby CO2 is physically removed from the atmosphere and stored with the intention to be permanent, with all greenhouse gas emissions over the entire chain of removal and storage included in the life-cycle analysis and whereby the total amount of CO2 removed and stored is greater than the CO2 emitted.
What are carbon credits and carbon markets?
Carbon credits are measurable units of emission reductions or removals that are created for the purposes of trading and retiring. They represent real, additional and verified emission reduction. These are removal benefits that the owner may claim when they retire the credit. Carbon markets are the collection of buyers and sellers of carbon credits who facilitate carbon project financing to reduce and/or remove GHG emissions through the generation and use of carbon credits.
What is the potential of CCS, CCU and CDR solutions for decarbonisation efforts?
CCUS is expected to play an important role in decarbonizing some emission-intensive industries, where there are few or no alternatives. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CCUS is among the most cost-effective solutions to achieve major emissions reductions in some industrial and fuel transformation processes, and is expected to provide almost one fifth of the emissions reductions needed in industry, in a pathway consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
CDR fulfills three crucial roles, according to the IPCC: accelerating climate change mitigation by complementing emissions reduction efforts in the short-term, counterbalancing residual emissions from hard-to-abate sectors in order to reach net zero CO2₂ in the medium-term, and achieving net negative CO2 emissions in the long-term. The IEA estimates that 85 Mt of CO2 in 2030 and around 980 MtCO2 in 2050 need to be captured through DAC in its Net Zero Scenario (up from almost 0.01 MtCO₂ today). About 250 Mt/year are removed through BECCS by 2030 in the same scenario.
How will the CCS+ Initiative ensure a transparent and robust methodology development process adhering to environmental integrity?
All methodology documents will be subject to a 30-day public consultation period to enable the stakeholder community to scrutinize and submit further inputs. The methodology development process under the CCS+ Initiative follows the robust and transparent approval process under Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). This means in practice that the documents will be subject to the same rigor and review as all methodologies under the VCS system, including an extensive public consultation process.
Meanwhile, the Initiative’s Advisory Group, formed of civil society organisations, industry associations and international organisations is a very important strategic and technical resource to the CCS+ Initiative, providing expertise, as well as scrutiny. The members of the Advisory Group can provide feedback on draft methodologies, propose new modules to the Steering Committee, as well as new topics or items, and advise on market and policy-related developments.
What is the relevance and potential of safe storage solutions for negative emissions?
The durability of the storage solution coupled with the removal of atmospheric carbon, either captured directly or through biogenic emissions, is key to determine the success of the CDR approach with regards to restoring the climate. The longer carbon stays out of the atmosphere, the more effective it will be in decreasing atmospheric concentrations.
What differentiates removals (ie negative emissions) from reductions ? Why can methodologies for the two be developed in the same framework?
The quantification methods can overlap since both emissions reductions (e.g. from fossil sources) and carbon removal (i.e. from atmospheric or biogenic sources) can rely on the same storage reservoirs or products and transportation infrastructure. A robust approach to accounting, based on cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA), will provide the clarity necessary to distinguish the climate mitigation outcome and their respective application in the voluntary carbon market.
However, the CCS+ Initiative is closely following relevant developments pertaining to the differentiation of reductions and removals in methodologies and is working closely with its members to reflect them in the work program and structure of the Initiative. A new workstream has been established that focuses solely on removals, building on the existing work. Its mandate is to develop and advocate for innovative approaches as part of the carbon accounting methodologies which push the boundaries of what is possible in the VCS today.
How will reduction and removal credits be differentiated?
The CCS+ Initiative is developing a reductions/removals tool to help project developers identify the mitigation outcome in their carbon measurement and accounting and is currently looking at how to better operate this distinction in its technical work. Verra held a public consultation on this topic and is assessing how to best differentiate reduction and removal credits in its registry. It is introducing a voluntary VCU label for removals and may further refine its approach as part of the VCS 5.0 update. The CCS+ Initiative will advise Verra on the further uptake and differentiation of removals in the registry.
What is the role of “methodologies” within the context of carbon credits?
Carbon accounting methodologies outline detailed procedures for quantifying the actual GHG benefits of a project. They guide project developers in identifying the project boundaries, establish baselines, assess additionality and calculate the GHG emissions that are reduced or removed. Methodologies ensure that similar projects calculate the GHG benefits through a similar approach. Over time, a methodology may be revised, withdrawn or put on hold if the activity is no longer relevant or considered a valid way to generate emission reductions.
Why is the CCS+ Initiative starting with a methodological framework for voluntary carbon markets?
Currently, methodologies for carbon capture, utilization, removal and storage solutions only exist on a very limited basis, both geographically and scope-wise. In response, a number of leading industry players have established the CCS+ Initiative to develop the methodological concepts. As many companies would otherwise be forced to work in isolation on methodologies, collaboration across the market is key to achieve the aim of the initiative and accelerate the development of a comprehensive and integrated methodological framework.
While the CCS+ Initiative methodologies are developed initially for the voluntary carbon market, they will exist as a public good and aim to serve as a best practice for emerging certification schemes in compliance markets as well. Ultimately, as for any new technology, the aim is to arrive over time at a standard approach for the accounting of mitigation outcomes from specific project types. This implies an iterative process to make methodologies of increasing quality and practical use.
Why the VCS? Will the methodological framework be exclusive to the VCS?
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) is the world’s leading carbon crediting platform, accounting for two-thirds of all voluntary carbon market transaction volume and playing a growing role within emerging compliance markets. The VCS has approved dozens of GHG methodologies and registered over 1,600 projects in 80 countries, covering all major GHG mitigation types. The CCS+ Initiative aims to produce a coherent, high-quality and high-integrity methodological framework including a full suite of VCS methodologies and tools to account for and credit CCS+ projects at the national and international level. These methodologies would be immediately usable in the VCS, but could also be tapped by other regulatory regimes around the world (including Article 6).
Why a modular approach?
The CCS+ Initiative’s work will be based on a modular approach covering the various mitigation facets and use cases of CCS activities i.e. realising emission reductions and carbon removals. The ultimate goal is to establish VCS carbon crediting pathways for a comprehensive suite of carbon capture, utilization, removal and storage activities and to pilot carbon methodologies acknowledging the diversity of such projects (and geographies). Taking a modular approach is needed to calculate the unique GHG benefits of different (part) solutions, and it will provide flexibility for project developers, who will be able to select the modules applicable to their solution in a plug-and-play approach.
What is the process of developing a quantification methodology under the VCS?
Rules and requirements for methodology development is available at
When will the CCS+ carbon methodologies be available?
We are aiming to finalize the methodologies by 2023-2024
How will the outputs of the CCS+ Initiative be used in the market? And by whom?
The objective of the CCS+ Initiative is to unlock and scale-up CCS-related climate action in carbon markets, with an initial focus on project-based methodologies for the VCM and Article 6. The methodologies developed under the CCS+ Initiative would be immediately usable in the VCM by companies around the world. The Paris Agreement architecture and the mitigation targets that countries have pledged in the context of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) also requires tools for a solid accounting of emissions along the complete CCS value chain (source of fuels, CO2capture, transportation and storage) at the national and international level (including transboundary accounting solutions). Countries may therefore also use the outputs.
What is the relevance of the initiative for existing or emerging mandatory carbon pricing schemes worldwide?
The CCS+ Initiative may set a useful precedent for how carbon pricing schemes may account for and credit CCS activities, including key issues such as permanence, additionality and market leakage. Further, some compliance schemes may choose to accept Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) generated from these methodologies.
Is the CCS+ Initiative open to additional partners and observers?
The CCS+ Initiative is open to additional partners and observers. The Initiative has established an Advisory Group that is composed of NGOs, industry associations, academics, and other key stakeholders. The Initiative engages with interested stakeholders to promote the work and adoption of outputs within voluntary carbon markets and regulatory regimes.
The CCS+ Initiative is set-up as a joint and open alliance where industry leaders bring their projects to the initiative and together with internationally renowned methodological experts co-create the needed methodologies and tools. Additional members are most welcome to join the CCS+ Initiative at any time to bring their interests and projects to this effort, collaborate on methodological development and share learnings, where this is relevant for the work.
How does the CCS+ Initiative approach additionality?
It is critical to ensure additionality of projects that monetize their impact in the form of credits tradable on the voluntary carbon market. CO2 emission reductions and removals are additional if they would not have taken place without a market for credits. Projects are not additional if the reduction or removal would have happened in a business as usual scenario, because it is mandated by regulation, already commercially viable, or received subsidies that cover the costs. The CCS+ Initiative decides with its members and Verra on the most appropriate additionality requirements for each solution covered under the work.
How does the CCS+ Initiative take account of embodied carbon?
The impact of embodied carbon in a project’s emission reduction calculation may be important. Embodied carbon is the carbon contained in the processes or materials throughout the whole lifecycle of a project (including the construction phase), as well as emissions in the value chain. If they are material, they may need to be included in the determination of the total amount of CO2 reduced or removed. A final decision on the CCS+ approach has yet to be taken.
Does the CCS+ Initiative determine how credits can be used?
The CCS+ Initiative was established to develop carbon accounting methodologies. It has no mandate to give guidance on how credits may be used. Other initiatives, such as the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI), the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM), and the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) are better placed to address this matter.
How is the CCS+ Initiative governed?
The CCS+ initiative is governed in a way that ensures the highest quality. A Steering Committee provides the mandate to the Secretariat, which coordinates the relevant tasks and outputs of Working Groups across three workstreams (CCS, CCUS and CDR), with continuous and iterative collaboration across the groups. The CCS+ Initiative Advisory Group, comprises NGOs, industry associations, academics, and other key stakeholders, and are mandated to guide the work and ensure that the final products will be broadly embraced and used. The Secretariat of the Initiative ensures the overall management, while the carbon consultants are developing the methodologies together with the CCS+ members within the Working Groups.