Climate Change Stories

How We Work With Carbon Markets

Ensuring high-quality projects that benefit people and nature

A fall-colored forest with a variety of trees and blue sky above.
Slate River Late successional forest management in the Michigamme Highlands of Michigan. © TNC

Our planet faces dual crises: rapid climate change and biodiversity loss. We have years, not decades, to address these existential threats to our ways of life. We must use all the tools at our disposal to create a word where people and nature thrive.

This includes a massive investment in decarbonization—as well unlocking the power of nature through Natural Climate Solutions. 

The Nature Conservancy advances Natural Climate Solutions through many strategies, including high-quality carbon markets.

The rapidly evolving carbon market has the potential, in combination with other strategies, to meaningfully mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as provide valuable conservation co-benefits for people and nature. 

Carbon markets allow difficult to decarbonize industries to reduce emissions immediately while still working toward deep emissions cuts through the development of carbon-free fuels. Research has shown companies that participate in carbon markets invest more and make more progress in reducing their own carbon pollution than businesses that don’t participate in carbon markets.

Carbon markets, like other technologies and tools, continuously improve over time thanks to science and innovation.

In some cases, projects that were developed several years ago and met standards at the time, no longer meet our benchmarks; new developments and breakthroughs in carbon science have shown room for improvement.

With more than 20 years of experience pioneering Natural Climate Solutions and carbon projects around the world, TNC is uniquely positioned to understand this evolution and use our experience to advance best practices.

In Spring 2021, TNC convened a group of carbon experts to review projects we have under development. Since then, we have made significant organizational investments as we strive for excellence in our work with carbon markets. 

Our Commitment to High-Quality Carbon Markets

  • Oversight

    Formed a Global Carbon Markets Team that provides robust oversight over all our carbon markets work.

  • Standards

    Established a set of standards to guide decisions about when and how to establish carbon projects of the highest quality.

  • Carbon Accounting

    Developed new approaches to improve how benefits of carbon projects are measured, such as dynamic baselines, which improve carbon accounting in forest carbon projects. Learn more about dynamic baselines.

  • Accelerator

    Launched a Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator to support a new global portfolio of projects that demonstrate best-in-class science, biodiversity conservation, and inclusion of communities and Indigenous peoples. Our goal is to support projects like the Emerald Edge.

  • Industry Influence

    Reflecting our interest in market leadership, we want to influence industry standards by engaging with initiatives like the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) and the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (IC-VCM).

  • Vetting Carbon Buyers

    We only work with companies that have a credible path to net-zero or a strong track record of climate commitments.

Our Carbon Projects

The Nature Conservancy has been a pioneer and leader in implementing carbon projects for over 20 years, with ​projects located in several countries. These are just some of the carbon market projects we support around the world.

Family Forest Carbon Program The Family Forest Carbon Program opens up a pathway for small forest owners to improve forest health and help climate change while earning an income to cover the cost of taking care of their land.

The Science of Carbon Markets

Carbon Markets Explained If we want to keep the climate in safe boundaries, we need to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible. But eliminating some carbon sources will be easier than others. That’s where carbon markets can help.

Our Insights

  • Reforesting the U.S.: Here's Where We Can Put All Those Trees

    New data layers make a reforestation mapping tool even more useful for showing lower-cost, feasible options for restoring forests in the U.S. Read More

  • Why We Can’t Afford to Dismiss Carbon Offsetting

    With just 10 years to prevent catastrophic climate change, we have a moral imperative to harness the potential of carbon projects. Read More

  • Making Carbon Markets Work for Faster Climate Action

    As part of ambitious decarbonization plans, offsetting is a near-term solution to closing the emissions gap Read More

  • Yes, Trees Are a Viable Climate Solution

    We can't reach global climate goals without cutting emissions—but we can't reach them without nature either. Read More

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