Woodcache PBC

Keep CDR Quality High


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Hello Woodcachers, it is great to get on this blog and meet you. My name is Whit Childs, and I am the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at this bootstrappin’, carbon dioxide removin’, waste-wood buryin’ outfit. 

I’m stepping up on my soapbox to speak on carbon neutrality and why this well-intentioned but ill-fitting label may hinder us from removing carbon from the atmosphere.  Of course, I must first mention that my argument assumes that organizations claiming carbon neutrality must, in some way, engage in carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to qualify for the appellation.  Good on organizations that fully decarbonize their production processes!

For any of you who follow carbon removal/Woodcache/Serge, you’ve heard this before, but I am going to drive it home and say it again: carbon credits are not created equal!  For example, when you buy carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of a flight or a rental car, there is a very good chance you are doing nothing more than making yourself feel less guilty.  That’s because the credits you bought are likely of low quality.  

Last year, the Guardian published a report revealing that 90% of carbon credits generated via the “Reducing Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries” (REDD+) methodology, fail to positively impact the climate. These credits are considered low quality because they are not well quantified, are sometimes reversed, and may even provide cover for other detrimental environmental activities.  

They say you get what you pay for, but in the case of the vast majority of low-quality credits like REDD+, you don’t even get that.  You might as well light your cash on fire! (Quick aside: we don’t advise it:  Cash is cotton-based and cotton is 91% cellulose, which means that by mass, money is approximately 44% carbon.  You’d be better off burying the money following the Woody Biomass Storage methodology, but I digress. If you DO decide to bury your money, might I suggest you reach out to Woodcache for your robust MRV system?)

On the other side of the carbon credit spectrum, high-quality carbon removal credits are quantifiable, measurable, and verifiable. They provide assurance that the represented carbon has been effectively sequestered or removed for a significant duration. The catch is, of course, price.  High-quality will cost you, sometimes as much as 10, 30, or even 300 times that of low-quality credits. 

The industry and its supporters are desperately trying to address the quality gap. Significant grants and incentives from the United States Department of Energy aim to drive the cost of high-quality credits to below $100 per metric tonne of carbon dioxide removed. While we at Woodcache are optimistic about achieving this target IN THE VERY NEAR TERM, it will take a lot of money and time for other methodologies to follow suit. Moreover, the high cost poses challenges for businesses with tight sustainability budgets, hindering the growth of the high-quality carbon removal sector.

Especially vulnerable are smaller businesses pursuing carbon neutrality. They are tempted by the neutrality moniker but can only afford it using lower-quality credits. This inadvertently fuels demand for ineffective, sometimes fraudulent, carbon credits, exacerbating the problem.  

Articles like the one from The Guardian have prompted larger buyers to scrutinize and retract support for low-quality credits. Unfortunately, smaller companies lack the resources to do the same. To address this issue, we need to rethink how we market sustainability. Rather than focusing solely on achieving carbon neutrality for individual products, we should emphasize the broader impact of supporting campaigns that invest in actual measurable progress. 

Making the benefits tangible and relatable can also enhance consumer understanding. For instance, instead of simply labeling a product as carbon neutral, we should highlight its contribution more tangibly, for example “removals are equivalent to ten thousand cars a year” or “equivalent to all the wildfire smoke in state x in 202y.” 

At Woodcache, our approach removes carbon, mitigates wildfire risks, improves water quality, and cleanses the air of toxic smoke. By emphasizing these co-benefits, we enhance the narrative around carbon neutrality, shifting the focus from mere labels to meaningful impact.

Marketing plays a crucial role in driving the adoption of carbon credits. If I had a magic wand controlling marketing departments, I’d support CDR products that genuinely make a difference, rather than ones that merely chase an ineffective, meaningless label without delivering real environmental benefits. 

That’s all from my soapbox for now. Thank you, everyone.

Let’s go!

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