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Ten topics to get up to speed on carbon ratings in 2023

  • BeZero Carbon

Here are some key takeaways

  • Last year saw carbon ratings become an established part of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), providing market participants with additional information and analysis to assess carbon projects around the world.

  • Ratings can play an important role in helping the market develop: improving information quality and disclosure requirements, as well as providing a common language for the whole market, existing and new, to use.

  • With over 280 carbon project ratings across all six sector groups, the BeZero Carbon Rating (BCR) is the world’s largest platform for carbon credit ratings, with headline ratings available for free, and underlying analysis, research and data available on our platform, BeZero Carbon Markets (BCM).

  • This list offers key reading that unpacks the BeZero Carbon Rating and how to think about assessing and comparing risk across individual carbon projects and the market as a whole.


1. Why the Voluntary Carbon Market needs ratings agencies

Start at the beginning: why does the VCM need ratings in the first place? An op-ed by our President, Mani Gangadharan Venketachalam, on the role independent ratings agencies can play in scaling the market.

Read here

2. Why transparency is key for the VCM to take off

“The prize for getting this right is creating a market that accelerates the net zero transition.” An op-ed by our CEO and Co-founder Tommy Ricketts in Carbon Pulse on the need for transparency and information availability across the Voluntary Carbon Market.

Read here

3. How our sector classification helps compare carbon projects

The BeZero Carbon Rating (BCR) provides users with a risk based assessment for understanding and interrogating carbon credit projects of any type, in any sector and country (download methodology). Our research found 94 defined sectors across standard bodies. Our sector classification system provides a simple, complementary way to help people compare projects on a like-for-like basis.

Read here

4. How geospatial and earth observation data informs ratings

Earth observations include data and information collected about our planet, whether atmospheric, oceanic or terrestrial. This includes space-based or remotely-sensed data, as well as ground-based or in situ data. This type of information can be highly relevant to Nature Based projects in the VCM. It can also offer valuable insights into some of the risk factors driving the BCR. Our Director of Geospatial and Earth Observations Dr. Phil Platts explains why.  

Read here

5. Assessing additionality

Additionality tests are fundamental to accrediting and rating carbon credit projects. It is both one of three of our qualifying criteria for rating a project, and the most important risk factor in the BCR. This article unpacks additionality tests and how they affect ratings across all rated projects.

Read here

6. Analysing over-crediting risk

This piece assesses the core building blocks of a carbon project’s credit issuance, interrogating how appropriate the calculations and assumptions are, and shows how, on average, Nature Based projects face greater over-crediting risks than non-Nature Based projects.

Read here

7. Checking for leakage

Leakage is the risk that emissions avoided or removed by a project are pushed outside the project boundary. Read our analysis on the two broad sources of leakage and how it compares across different sector groups, with Nature Based and non-Nature Based case studies.

Read here

8. Gauging non-permanence risk

Permanence is often discussed in the market as the length of time a given amount of carbon will be stored for, whether through removal or avoidance by a project. This article focuses on the contractual commitments of carbon projects and their credits, analysing the risk of non-permanence across projects in the BeZero rated universe. 

Read here

9. Understanding buffer pools in Nature Based projects

Risk buffers are designed to mitigate the risk of reversals in carbon projects, such as fires or unforeseen logging. However, in our view, they fall short of providing adequate system-wide insurance of the risks posed. Our report looks at some of the limitations of buffer pool contributions, and outlines ways to increase the robustness of these insurance mechanisms.

Read here

10. Evaluating policy environment

Policy risk incorporates the extent to which the national or regional policy environment relevant to a carbon project undermines its carbon effectiveness. Projects in locations with a strong policy environment have a lower dependence on issuing carbon credits to be viable, and vice versa. Here we unpack the critical components of policy assessments.

Read here

Have we missed something? Drop us a line if there are any VCM or carbon ratings-related topics you’d like to learn more about at