26 Nov 2020
Green carbon initiatives join forces to expand the UK market
In the race to tackle climate change and to reach net zero emissions, two key UK-wide carbon markets have joined forces.
The UK Woodland Carbon Registry and UK Peatland Code have come together to form the new UK Land Carbon Registry.
The new registry aims to create a more accessible ‘one-stop-shop’ for woodland and peatland carbon schemes.
Interest in carbon credits for both woodland and peatland schemes has grown rapidly over the past year, with many companies looking to compensate for their residual emissions through nature based solutions.
Welcoming the initiative, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“We recognise the role that woodlands and carbon sequestration have to play and wish to see an increase in the size of the woodland carbon market by at least 50 per cent over the next five years. Added to this, the Scottish Government is committed to seeing the rate of peatland restoration programmes grow over the coming years.
“The new UK Land Carbon Registry will help to create a more joined up marketplace, making it easier for companies in the UK to play their part in tackling climate change by investing in planting trees, creating more woodlands and restoring more peatland in Scotland.”
UK Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith, said:
“This new joint registry will support nature-based solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises by making it easier for investors to offset emissions. This builds on our existing support for the domestic carbon market, driven by our Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme which provides landowners additional long-term income for capturing carbon through new woodlands.
“Well-managed woodlands and healthy peatlands play essential roles in helping us to reach net zero. That is why we committed a £640m Nature for Climate Fund to restore peatlands and increase tree planting by 30,000 hectares per year across the UK by 2025.”
Around 12,000 large businesses across the UK now have a statutory duty to report their greenhouse gases alongside their annual accounts. This has spurred on many companies to seek ways to compensate for their residual carbon emissions.
The increase in demand will, in turn, drive more private sector investment into creating more woodlands and peatland restoration programmes across the UK.
Currently, around 526 woodland creation projects have registered with the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code, with 40 per cent being in Scotland. This represents a doubling of projects compared to the past year alone and these registered projects are predicted to sequester over eight million tonnes CO2 over their lifetime.
Interest is also booming for the Peatland Code which has also seen a doubling of the number of registered projects in the last year – bringing the total to 24 projects. There are currently four validated projects which will reduce emissions from degraded peatlands by around 100,000 tonnes CO2e over their lifetime.
Landowners who validate their woodland or peatland restoration schemes to either standard can have all their projects and carbon units in the one place - the UK Land Carbon Registry. Carbon units can then be sold on to companies wanting to compensate for their residual emissions.
Dr Vicky West, Scottish Forestry Woodland Carbon Code manager added:
“It’s great that the Peatland Code is joining us to create the UK Land Carbon Registry, providing a single location for all UK carbon units. This makes it simpler for landowners and buyers alike, and helps us to grow the domestic carbon market.”
Dr Emma Goodyer, Programme Leader, IUCN UK Peatland Programme said;
“Peatland Code projects joining the UK Land Carbon Registry is an essential step forwards in ensuring the accurate and robust accounting of carbon units generated from peatland restoration. With the recent increase in interest of both projects and investors seeking to use the Peatland Code the joint registry offers a new home for the accounting of these projects.”
Brendan Turvey, NatureScot’s Low Carbon Project Manager, said:
“We’re very pleased to see the new register launched and hope this will start to draw more private investment in to peatland restoration in Scotland. We will help make this happen through the continued support of Scottish Government funding for Peatland Action, and look forward to working with partners, land owners and investors to leverage private investment.”
Notes to news editors
1. The new UK Land Carbon Registry is hosted by IHS Markit and can be located here.
2. The Woodland Carbon Code is the voluntary standard for UK woodland creation projects where claims are made about the carbon dioxide they sequester. Independent validation and verification to this standard provides assurance and clarity about the carbon savings of these sustainably managed woodlands. Case Study: https://www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk/buy-carbon/woodland-carbon-projects
3. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) UK Peatland Programme exists to promote peatland restoration in the UK and advocates the multiple benefits of peatlands through partnerships, strong science, sound policy and effective practice. The work of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme is overseen by a coalition of partner bodies.
5. Peatlands cover around 3% of the land surface of the Earth yet they contain twice as much carbon as the world’s forests. Huge areas of bog have been drained and damaged in the past, and the carbon that was locked in the peat for thousands of years is now rapidly being released to the atmosphere. Damaged peatlands are responsible for at least 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. The UK is one of the world’s top fifteen countries in terms of peatland area, out of 175 nations with peat deposits and is in the top 20 countries with the most damaged peatlands. Restoring peatlands is an effective and cost efficient way of reversing the carbon loss from damaged bogs. For more information visit www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org. Case study: https://www.forestcarbon.co.uk/news/first-peatland-code-validation-awarded