Global banks plot voluntary carbon market platform to boost offset transparency


NatWest, Canada's CIBC, Brazil's ITAÚ, and the National Australia Bank are together planning to launch a pilot platform for trading carbon offset credits in a bid to provide greater price certainty and transparency to the voluntary carbon market, the four global banks announced last week.

Dubbed Project Carbon, the pilot aims to support a "thriving global marketplace for quality carbon offsets with clear and consistent pricing and standards" in order to provide "a valuable pathway for our clients in their efforts to achieve a net zero goal", according to the financial firms.

The new initiative is set to launch next month and comes amid rapidly growing interest in the voluntary carbon market, as increasing numbers of major companies set net zero emissions targets, and view investing in offset projects as key to delivering on those goals.

Advocates argue corporate carbon offset projects are critical to securing private investment in nature restoration initiatives, but there remain significant concerns around ensuring projects are credible and deliver promised benefits to the climate and local communities.  

The Project Carbon platform aims to boost transparency by providing a book of record for the ownership of carbon credits, allowing owners of such credits to clearly demonstrate possession to the market, thereby reducing the risks of double counting and simplifying reporting, the banks said. It also aims to provide full traceability and linkage back to the source of a carbon credit.

"Tackling climate change is everyone's job," the banks said in a joint statement. "We're helping to find solutions and support our customers as they take action to transition to net zero by 2050. Project Carbon is a terrific example of how technologies such as blockchain can address existing barriers and make carbon offsets more accessible for our customers - as part of their broader plans to reduce overall emissions and achieve their own targets."

The platform is set for launch in August, initially as a pilot to "demonstrate the operational, legal and technical capability of the platform", according to the banks.

They said the voluntary carbon marketplace pilot would be aligned with the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, a private sector initiative led by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney which is backed by more than 50 firms and organisations.