16 March 2022

Focus on Ratings

BeZero Carbon is now entirely focused on our future as a global carbon ratings agency.

  • We will provide carbon credit ratings for the entire Voluntary Carbon Market, scaling our BeZero Carbon Rating framework to bring quality assessment of carbon efficacy for all market participants.

  • We will make our carbon ratings, data, and analytics available to customers through our intelligence platform, BeZero Carbon Markets, and API.

  • We will continue to invest in critical research across different practice areas that helps us to build the information architecture for a lower carbon economy.

We founded BeZero Carbon in April 2020, with a research-first mindset. The goal is to fuse traditional capital markets research practices with expertise in environmental sciences and technology. To think creatively about climate problems, and solutions.
We have always thought of climate action as an asset-liability problem; and spent 2020-21 testing various business models, and product-market fits, across the emerging climate economy.
Our objectives were to understand the systems as they exist, and how we can best improve outcomes.
The natural starting point for anyone in the climate space is emissions. Greenhouse gases are a by-product of moving and making things. And everyone and everything has a footprint.
Starting with a broad Net Zero transition consulting remit is an ideal training ground to gain exposure to the full climate problem set: how to know, plan and act on climate. As we started to work with clients, we sought to better understand a range of issues:

How do organisations view decarbonisation? What’s the appetite for reduction and pricing “carbon” into their business models? Do they think using carbon offsets is a positive action? How easy to use are the new wave of carbon exchanges? What does it mean to “trade” carbon? What are the barriers to balance sheet investing in projects? Can conservation and capitalism complement each other (rather than act antagonistically)?

Over time, a structural theme started to emerge from all the work we did. Everyone in the market is struggling to effectively price and manage risk, and demand for any products or services that directly address these concerns is surging.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM); a rapidly recovering market, forecasted to grow by as much as 100x, but constrained by a nascent market structure.
The VCM may be 25-years old this year, but it faces all the typical problems of a new asset class: a lack of information consistency, operational complexity, and actors with seemingly divergent needs.
As early as Summer 2020, we started to work on the idea of a ratings model for the VCM that treated carbon like any other capital market instrument.

What emerged was the BeZero Carbon Rating (BCR), a hybrid analytical framework that fuses financial, scientific, and policy-based analysis. It provides an opinion on the likelihood that a given credit achieves a tonne of CO2e avoided or removed.

The BCR gives verified carbon credits a rating based on BeZero’s seven-point scale based on the publicly available BCR methodology, where: AAA represents a high likelihood of achieving 1 tonne of CO2e avoidance or removal, AA represents a moderate likelihood, A represents a low likelihood.

The BCR is a carbon-only expected return model. It utilises a risk-based approach and seeks to give everyone a common language of risk. One that is translatable to that used by the $200 trillion of assets in global financial markets.

The VCM needs to be a market where the price mechanism does the work based on independent, and transparent information infrastructure. 

It started to become clear that BeZero’s place in the world was to drive the VCM towards the mainstream by providing the tools to help all market participants price and manage risk. To build the global carbon ratings business for the globalising carbon market.

And that’s what we’ve been busy doing.

At the end of Summer 2021 we started to build a tech platform and API from which the ratings can be accessed or hosted. We started trialling our alpha version of the BeZero Carbon Markets platform in mid-December 2021, and the response has been astonishing. 

More than 220 users across over 65 major institutions have been giving the team feedback on our product and features. Organisations in every segment of the VCM have been engaging with us.

This period has been invaluable in shaping the platform for its upcoming launch in April, and feedback includes: 

  • Continuing to invest in our transparency agenda by making our Ratings Methodology and broader process documents 100% public at all times.

  • Ensuring we are fully independent of any actual or perceived conflicts. 

  • Identifying priorities to add greater depth and breadth of project and market analysis.

  • Highlighting the need for a common lexicon and syntax for the market across accreditors - more on our sector classifications work coming soon.

In less than a month, we will be launching the paywall version of the platform with the world’s largest coverage of carbon ratings and the supporting data and analytics that informs the ratings.

Paying users will receive access to:

  • The world’s largest database of rated verified carbon projects:

    • 180+ individual projects representing over 40% of the liquid VCM supply (excl. CDM).  

  • Representative full market coverage across sectors, regions, and accreditors.

  • Project and ratings summaries and risk-factor analyses.

  • Project analytic charts, including Project Assumptions, Reported and Retired Credits, and Project Baseline Analysis.

  • BeZero Carbon Sector Classifications, bringing together 42 sub-sectors across 6 major sector groups.

  • Project labelling, including SDG reporting, and Corsia eligibility.

  • BeZero Carbon Project Comparison Tool.

The team is also busy researching, developing, productising, and bringing to market a series of features coming soon, including BeZero’s proprietary: 

  • Earth Observation and Satellite Imagery Integration tools

  • Portfolio Assessment tools

  • Geospatial Monitoring tools

  • Issuance Risk Monitor

Finally, it’s important to note that focusing entirely on BeZero Carbon as a ratings business carries certain implications. This warrants clarification.

In the beginning the focus was on “understanding the market”, and trying our hand at various parts of it. Moving forward we require a far more disciplined approach based on transparency of process, and independence from actual or perceived conflicts.

Our vision for the VCM is based on a public markets agenda whereby information circulates freely, and all participants have access to the methodologies, and headline ratings of the market’s ratings bodies.

The BeZero Carbon Ratings Methodological white paper has always been accessible to anyone who visits our website. This approach will always be the case. To add further clarity, this week we are adding refined technical documents detailing our definitions, criteria for what projects we rate and our ratings process itself and FAQs, available for anyone to see. 

We will also make all our headline letter ratings and ratings summaries publicly available.

All of this is coming ahead of the April 2022 launch.

 We will also make public all our practice and research areas by investing heavily in Earth Observation, Natural Capital, Net Zero, Tech Removals and Data Science. Our research work seeks to deepen and improve the ratings process, make the VCM more efficient, and provide thought-leadership for the Net Zero economy.

 Lastly, to be credible we must maintain our independence.

 We will never write project methodologies; we do not hold any direct ties with any accreditors; we do not invest in, end-to-end develop, or verify carbon projects; and no longer recommend or trade carbon credits on a standalone basis, or as part of an end-to-end Net Zero or Carbon Neutral package. 

Being independent means precisely that. Free of all real and perceived conflicts that could undermine the credibility of BeZero, or our ratings.

 April marks an amazing new phase for BeZero with the external launch of the BeZero Carbon Markets platform, and we have so much more planned for the years ahead.

All we can promise is that our research-first approach to identifying problems and creating products that solve them will never change.

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