I am saddened to note that over the past weeks, one of our flagship forest protection projects has been falsely accused in the media of over issuing carboncredits. The Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe is one of the very first, long-standing forest carbon projects located in a very complex country, successfully delivering measurable carbon and social benefits over the past decade.

The incorrect allegation is that the Verra Standard issued ‘too many’ carbon credits for the Kariba project. These allegations, however, miss two critically important facts:

  1. Nobody can fully and accurately predict deforestation rates ten years into the future — one can only MODEL it using satellite-based historic data. In the case of Kariba and Zimbabwe, the project based its prediction on data points taken from the previous decade, when the deforestation rate was high. It turns out that the deforestation rate went down over the past few years, for a number of reasons including a reversal of some destructive slash and burn policies supported by the government.
  2. The Verra VM9 methodology we use for the calculation of carbon credits has a built-in corrective mechanism. If there is an over or under issuance of credits, this is noted during the re-validation process (every 10 years) and the model is adjusted, taking the new data into account, and adjusting the model for the next 10 year period.

This ensures that ALL credits from the project are equal to the actual deforestation rate on the ground over the project’s lifetime – 30 years in this case. Each and every carbon credit from the Kariba project is real and fully legitimate!

On top of all of this, South Pole is advising the project that they delay the sale of a large quantity of existing credits, and sell them only batch by batch over the coming years. This way, the local communities are ensured a steady revenue stream in times when fewer new credits will be issued.

For those of you who still have questions, and wish to learn more about how Kariba was developed as a project, my colleague Christian Dannecker provides the full story — with all the ups and down, challenges and financial details. Please provide constructive feedback. We are keen to share, learn, and improve.

Preserving the forests is one of the most important tasks to fight climatechange and preserve biodiversity. Let’s join forces to improve and scale up #climatefinance!

Renat Heuberger, CEO & Co-Founder, South Pole

This blog was published first on LinkedIn and is a response to the article by Follow the Money: “Prestigeproject van ’s werelds grootste CO2-handelaar leidde juist tot meer uitstoot” (27 january 2023)

Please find more information about the Kariba project here.