CBAM Carbon Pricing (EU’s 1st Cross-Border Carbon Policy)

The Paris Agreement created different ways to fight climate change and the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is one of them.

Several efforts were made to limit GHG emissions globally. All these measures seek to influence the carbon price tied to producing goods or services that emit CO2.

The main purpose of carbon prices is to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in high emitting sectors. At the same time, revenues from carbon pricing present opportunities for governments and businesses to support the shift to a sustainable economy.

But latest events in the carbon market urged regulators to review their climate policies. And the EU has been very active in this case as it aims to be the kingmaker in the sector.

This guide will explain one of the EU’s latest policy proposals on carbon pricing: the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

But before we discuss the details of the EU’s CBAM, let’s explain first the general term it falls under – the Border Carbon Adjustment or BCA.

The BCA  Approach to Carbon Pricing

Among the different types of carbon pricing, carbon taxes used to be the highest generating revenue instrument.

But that was before 2021 when revenues from Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) exceeded carbon taxes revenues for the first time. The chart below shows that.

Source: World Bank Report

ETS refers to the compliance carbon market where carbon prices are driven by government policy. They’re also called the cap-and-trade emissions system.

Government policies usually inform the maximum emission limits (cap) which are also known as allowances or credits that an entity can emit.

Carbon polluters can buy or sell carbon credits based on emissions they produce in relation to their allowance limits.

If they are below their cap, they can sell their excess allowances. But if they are over their limit, they can buy to cover the shortfall.

Despite surging carbon prices and higher revenues via the ETS, there are still some issues with carbon pricing.

And one of them is carbon leakage which is a big concern for industry stakeholders and politicians alike.

Carbon leakage refers to the risk where emissions reduced in one country are offset by increased emissions in another country. 

It can reduce the efficiency of climate policies by shifting emissions to laxer countries. This can lead to an increase in global carbon emissions.

And so, cross-border approaches to carbon pricing come into play to address the issue of carbon leakage. They’re increasingly recognized by countries and a Border Carbon Adjustment or BCA is one of those approaches.

BCA is an environmental trade policy that applies domestic carbon pricing to imported goods. This carbon pricing mechanism reflects the regulatory costs born by domestically produced carbon-intensive products but not by the same, foreign-produced products.

It’s a policy option that exists in the absence of a global, unified carbon pricing policy or an international agreement on how to deal with it.

Even if BCA is a very recent policy for carbon pricing, some countries are citing it as a means to adopt a direct carbon price. These nations include Ukraine, Uruguay, and Taiwan.

But the EU’s approach would be by far the biggest one – its CBAM.

What is the EU CBAM?

The EU’s CBAM is one form of BCA mechanism for carbon pricing. Its ultimate goals are twofold:

To reduce GHG emissions and
To avoid trade advantages and disadvantages as countries have different climate policies’ ambition

CBAM creates a level playing field by making foreign importers face the same costs and incentives that domestic producers experience.

In essence, it protects the climate ambition and the domestic industry of the country enacting it.

In July 2021, the European Commission (EC) presented the “Fit for 55” legislative package. It contained 13 policy measures to reduce the EU’s GHG emissions by 55% in 2030 from their 1990 levels. It has a main goal to reach climate neutrality or net zero emissions by 2050.

That package includes the CBAM, which will introduce a carbon price on certain products imported into the EU. The EU Council and the European Parliament are responsible for enacting the EU CBAM proposal.

On March 15, 2022, the Council reached an agreement on the CBAM regulation.

As per Bruno Le Maire, French Minister for Economic Affairs, Finance and Recovery:

“The agreement in the Council on the CBAM is a victory for European climate policy. It will give us a tool to speed up the decarbonisation of our industry while protecting it from companies from countries with less ambitious climate goals.”

He added that it will also incentivize other countries to become more sustainable and emit less.

Another main aim of EU CBAM is to avoid carbon leakage. It can happen when production relocates to other countries with weaker climate policies (lower carbon prices).

If that occurs, it can lead to a loss of revenues in countries with ambitious climate goals like the EU.

CBAM will also encourage trading partners to establish their own carbon pricing policies.

How Does the EU CBAM Work

EU’s CBAM is designed to function in parallel with the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). In particular, it will gradually replace the free allocation of EU ETS allowances.

EU ETS is the European carbon credit contract that is exchange-traded. It is by far the biggest regulated carbon market trading carbon credits or the EU allowance (EUA).

When an entity buys a carbon allowance from the EU ETS, they gain permission to generate one ton of CO2 emissions. Carbon revenues then flow vertically from companies to regulators.

Under the voluntary carbon market (without government regulation), companies can also buy carbon credits generated by various projects around the world. They range from nature-based projects like reforestation and technology-based carbon removal projects.

The idea is pretty much the same: one carbon credit = one ton of carbon emissions offset or avoided. Firms can also buy credits from different carbon exchanges to voluntarily offset their emissions.

On the other hand, the EU’s CBAM involves applying a carbon price to imports of certain goods to the EU. This price is proportionate to the goods’ “embodied emissions”, referring to the emissions generated during their production. They don’t mean the carbon that the goods physically contain.

Under the CBAM, EU importers must buy CBAM certificates in relation to the goods’ embodied emissions. Just like the current EU allowance, each CBAM certificate equals one ton of emissions.

Essentially, the number of CBAM certificates must be equal to the total embodied emissions of the imported goods.

And the price of CBAM certificates should reflect that of the EU ETS allowances in the week before the import of goods.

Once a carbon price has been paid in the country of origin of the imported goods, the required CBAM certificates can be reduced by such paid amount (e.g. the origin country’s own ETS or carbon tax).

CBAM certificates will be valid for two years from the date of purchase.

CBAM’s Application

The EU CBAM applies to the import of electricity and certain goods including:

fertilizer, and
aluminum sectors

Initially, it will apply only to Scope 1 emissions or direct emissions. But importers need to report on embodied Scope 2 indirect emissions from electricity consumption as well.

Determining embodied emissions can be done in two ways:

Actual emissions: recorded at production installation level (at country of origin) and verified by accredited verifiers.

Default values: applied where importers cannot show actual emissions generated by the goods. It refers to the average emissions in the country of export, plus a mark-up.

For electricity, calculations will rely on third-country default values. But electricity imports from countries whose markets integrate with that of the EU would be an exception.

The CBAM will enter into force as early as 2023 in a transitional way, and it is likely to fully apply from 2026. During its transitional period (2023-2025), EU importers must meet reporting requirements. But they don’t need to buy CBAM certificates yet.

Once the carbon policy is fully in force in 2026, importers have to pay for CBAM certificates to import CBAM goods.

CBAM Carbon Pricing Impact on Non-EU Countries

To know which non-EU countries are most likely impacted by the CBAM, studies look at the exports of CBAM products.

Obviously, Russia is the biggest provider of CBAM products to the EU. It is then followed by Turkey, the UK, and China as shown in the graph below.

Meanwhile, the most affected non-EU states under CBAM would be the UK, Serbia, and Mozambique as shown in the chart in terms of export percentage. Around 80% of their CBAM exports go to the EU.

It’s important to note that based on the current ETS systems in major trading partners with existing carbon pricing, there’ll be some exceptions in EU CBAM.

For instance, CBAM products from the UK are an exception due to the country’s own emissions system. While imports from South Korea will also have lower CBAM prices than other jurisdictions because of its own carbon pricing.

CBAM Effects on the EU Member States

Not only non-EU nations but also the EU member states themselves could be hurt by the CBAM as they may face higher import costs.

In particular, Bulgaria would be the most at risk of having imports taxed by the CBAM. This is because it has a high reliance on CBAM imports from other countries outside the EU.

The chart below shows other EU member states affected by the CBAM carbon pricing mechanism.

Another possible impact of the CBAM is on the bilateral exports of the main European trading partners of carbon-intensive products.

The figure below shows the impact on EU bilateral exports to (in red) and imports from (in blue) selected countries in 2040. A darker shade refers to the final products exported.

Source: CEPII Working Paper No. 2022-01

Interestingly, there are trade imbalances favoring Canada, Japan, and the US. The UK and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are extreme cases. They benefit from low-carbon compensation and so increase their exports.

On the other hand, the CBAM deeply affects India, with a -26% drop in its exports to the EU as projected.

EU CBAM Drawbacks and What it Means for Businesses

The proposal for the CBAM is now under review by the European Parliament and the European Council. Some amendments proposed include making the transitional period shorter and sooner. This is to rid of the EU ETS free allocation much more rapidly.

While the CBAM holds promising changes in carbon pricing in the EU ETS, some find it so complicated. Others said that this BCA policy involves a very complex administrative process.

The following are the key elements of the CBAM administration process:

Even if the CBAM still needs approval to become a policy, some proactive steps can help businesses prepare in advance to avoid high administrative burdens.

For instance, companies may:

Evaluate potential CBAM impact on their operations: purchase data, bill of material, etc.
Quantify CBAM exposure: value and number of transactions of goods to import/export
Review global value chain and footprint: ex. determine strategies for investing in manufacturing facilities to reduce emissions
Identify alternative sources available: goods with lower to no CBAM impact

The EU CBAM and other BCA mechanisms are gradually taking shape. They will make a significant impact on reducing carbon footprint and reaching net zero emissions.

The impact is not only in the EU region but also across the global sourcing and distribution footprint of the businesses covered by the CBAM.

The CBAM carbon pricing may give companies more work to do when it comes to accounting and administration. But it also presents a great opportunity to meet their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. ESG is one of the criteria that investors look into when making their investments.

You can check out our news page to stay on top of the recent events in the EU carbon market. You can also monitor carbon prices here to help guide your investment decision.

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DeepMarkit Model Validated by FlowCarbon Raise

DeepMarkit welcomes added validation of its business model as venture capital firms led a US$70 million investment in the recent funding raised by Flowcarbon.

Flowcarbon is a carbon credit start-up co-founded by former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. It operates in the voluntary carbon market with Web3 which focuses on influencing the blockchain to scale climate change solutions.

The financing boosted the emerging industry that brings carbon credits on-chain, as well as DeepMarkit’s credibility planning to increase the transparency of the market.

The company has been pursuing the tokenization of carbon credits through its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Carbon Corp. with a primary asset platform.

Economies worldwide believe that voluntary carbon credit markets are one of the best solutions to cut emissions. Investors are also immensely interested in putting their money in the market, potentially adding to the industry growth.

With that, DeepMarkit focuses on decentralizing the fight against climate change and democratizing access to the voluntary carbon market by minting credits into NFTs.

Read the Full News Release HERE

Read More on DeepMarkit Corp HERE

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How Direct Air Capture Works (And 4 Important Things About It)

Direct Air Capture (DAC) is one of the key technologies that governments and businesses use in fighting climate change.

The latest IPCC report on climate change says that apart from carbon emissions efforts, limiting global warming to the critical 1.5⁰C will depend on DAC technology.

So how does it work, what are the top 3 Direct Air Capture companies, and what’s the role of DAC in reducing emissions?

This guide will help you know how direct air capture works. It will also explain the four important things to know about DAC in the fight for climate change.

DAC: A Carbon Dioxide Removal Technology

You can think about the CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere like a bucket and that bucket is now almost full. To prevent that bucket from overflowing (or staying below the global warming limit), we have to cut back our GHG emissions.

For many climate activists, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) seems to be the last hope to keep the CO2 bucket full. This, along with huge emissions reduction efforts, will help materialize the Paris Agreement.

Carbon removal pathways particularly include the development of direct air capture technology. Though DAC won’t keep the world below the 1.5⁰C limit alone, it can help drain out some of the emissions dumped in the air.

This CDR technology is gaining traction and receiving the spotlight as this decade is the key to reaching net zero emissions. So, you’re more likely hearing DAC most often and wondering how it functions and what it’s all about.

How Direct Air Capture Works (Solid vs. Liquid DAC)

Simply put, direct air capture technology sucks in air through a fan. It is then passed through a material that absorbs the carbon dioxide from the air.

There are two technology approaches that are currently used to capture CO2 from the air: solid and liquid DAC. Climeworks, the largest DAC operating company so far, uses a solid filter.

Solid DAC technology (S-DAC) uses solid sorbent filters that bind with CO2. When these filters are full of air, the units that house the fans are closed and then heated. Once heated, the filters release the concentrated CO2 which can be captured for storage or use.

An S-DAC plant comes in modular design and may include as many units as needed. For instance, the biggest operating S-DAC plant captures 4,000 tons of CO2 a year. The image below shows how the solid direct air capture process works.

On the other hand, liquid DAC technology (L-DAC) uses a chemical solution like potassium hydroxide to draw in CO2. L-DAC is based on two closed chemical loops.

The first loop occurs in the contactor unit which brings the air into contact with potassium hydroxide. The second loop releases the captured CO2 from the solution in a series of units operating at high temperatures (300°C – 900°C).

The following picture illustrates how L-DAC technology operates.

An L-DAC plant can capture around 1 MtCO2 a year. Carbon Engineering is using this kind of direct air capture process.

While each DAC technology has its distinct features, both have the potential to remove CO2 from the air. The captured CO2 can be stored permanently or can be a raw material for carbon neutral products.

Moreover, both DAC options don’t need vast land to operate and they work at different temperatures. They’re fit for large-scale operations (L-DAC), as well as small-scale but modular and scalable operations (S-DAC).

The table distinguishes the key features between the two DAC technology approaches.

While the table below compares the major advantages and trade-offs of using these DAC technologies.

4 Essential Things to Know About DAC

With the expected rise in carbon dioxide removal schemes, more and more people are also asking for other important things about DAC.

For instance, how expensive is direct air capture? What are the leading direct air capture companies? What’s the role of DAC in meeting net zero emissions goals and who is investing in DAC?

Let’s address each question one by one.

Direct Air Capture Cost

Capturing CO2 from the air costs more than capturing it from a point source.
This is because the atmospheric CO2 is much more dilute than the flue gas of a power station, for instance. This results in the higher energy need and cost of DAC relative to other CDR technologies.

Here’s the direct air capture cost in USD for every ton of CO2, as per CO2 concentrations.

Source: IEA, 2022

As DAC technology has yet to be demonstrated on a large scale, its costs are uncertain. Capture cost estimates range anywhere from $200/t – $700/t.

While cost estimates from the top DAC technology companies varies: $95 to $230/tCO2 for L-DAC and $100 to $600/tCO2 for S-DAC. The actual DAC cost depends on a couple of things such as:

Technology choice,
CAPEX (capital expense) for DAC plant
Energy source,
Carbon price, and
Scale of DAC deployment

All these factors affect the regional cost of carbon removal via direct air capture.

On a regional level, CAPEX is likely to be lower in China, the Middle East, Russia, and North Africa than in Europe and the US. This is because of the cheaper materials and lower gas prices in those parts of the world.

Whereas CO2 prices will be higher in Europe, the US, and Japan (up to $250/tCO2) than in other regions.

But DAC costs will likely drop by 31-43% during 2020-2030 and by 10-24% during 2030-2050 as shown in the graphs. This is due to the considerable cost reduction potential of DAC.

In particular, its potential for performance improvement is also high. Plus, there’ll be massive DAC deployment as a policy response to the climate crisis.

Source: IEA, 2022

Without a carbon price like a tax, all the regions can capture CO2 directly from the air for less than $100/tCO2. Not surprisingly, the Middle East can enjoy a DAC cost below $50/tCO2. Thanks to its low CAPEX, low natural gas prices, and low electricity prices.

Meanwhile, a carbon price of USD 250/tCO2 in 2050 allows DAC to be profitable in all regions. That’s when a DAC plant sources power from heat and renewable energy (solar PV, or onshore and offshore wind).

In a global DAC scale deployment, the CAPEX cost in line with the Net Zero scenario can decrease a lot, up to 49-65% lower in 2030 and 65-80% lower in 2050.

So, high renewable energy sources and the best DAC technologies for electricity and heat can reduce total direct air capture costs.

Top 3 Direct Air Capture Companies

The top 3 in the sector are Climeworks, Carbon Engineering, and Global Thermostat.

Zurich-based Climeworks is a DAC company founded in 2009 as a spin-off of the research university ETH Zurich.

As mentioned, Climeworks uses S-DAC with a solid filter that absorbs CO2. The image below shows how Climeworks’ direct air capture technology works.

To date, it has constructed a total of 15 DAC plants worldwide. It built the $15 million Orca DAC plant in Iceland that sucks CO2 out of the air and pumped it deep underground for permanent storage.

Orca is the first industrial-scale direct air capture and storage plant, capturing about 4,000 tons of CO2 a year. This corresponds to a yearly emission of about 600 people residing in Europe.

Climeworks’ Orca is built next to a geothermal plant, a ready-made source of renewable energy to heat the CO2. While its other DAC plants get energy solely from renewable sources or from burning waste.

About 10 tons of CO2 are emitted for every 100 tons sequestered by DAC.

Right now, Climeworks continues to scale up. It was a Venture Kick winner in 2010, a Venture Leader in 2017, and one of the TOP 100 Swiss Startups from 2011 to 2014.

Carbon Engineering:
Vancouver-based Carbon Engineering Ltd. has a direct air capture pilot plant in British Columbia. It was also founded in 2009 from academic work on carbon management technologies at the University of Calgary and Carnegie Mellon University.

Carbon Engineering (CE) licensed its technology to 1PointFive (a joint venture between Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen Capital Management). It aims to build a DAC plant capable of capturing 1 million tons of CO2 a year in 2024.

CE’s DAC technology sucks in atmospheric air with a fan. It uses potassium hydroxide solution (L-DAC) to bind the captured CO2 molecules. Then it extracts pure CO2 in gas form through a series of chemical reactions while returning the rest of the air back to the environment.

Here’s how CE’s liquid direct air capture process works:

CE started its pre-FEED (front-end engineering and design) with Pale Blue Dot Energy on the development of a DAC plant in Scotland, U.K.

This DAC company also recently started engineering an air-to-fuel plant that will be operational in Canada in 2026.

Global Thermostat:
This DAC company is founded in the United States in 2010 by two academics from Columbia University.

Same as Climeworks, Global Thermostat (GT) is also using its patented solid sorbent material that captures CO2. The image below demonstrates how GT direct air capture technology functions.

GT has so far commissioned two DAC pilot plants. It’s currently collaborating with ExxonMobil to advance and scale up its DAC technology.

It has also supplied its DAC equipment to the Haru Oni eFuels pilot plant in Chile. This DAC plant will use captured CO2 blended with hydrogen to produce synthetic gasoline.

The project will capture up to 250 kg of CO2 per hour, which is equal to around 2,000 tCO2/year.

It’s essential to note that DAC contributes to one of the very few solutions available to reduce emissions in the aviation sector. It remains one of the most challenging energy sectors to decarbonize. Using captured CO2 enables synthetic fuels (used by airlines) to be carbon neutral over their life cycle.

Other smaller direct air capture companies include:

CarbonCapture: captures CO2 using molecular sieves
Heirloom: proposes a hybrid DAC approach based on carbon mineralization
Hydrocell: captures CO2 and recovers heat from exhaust air
Infinitree: provides CO2 enrichment solutions for enclosed agricultural applications
Skytree: focuses on air quality management for electric vehicles
Soletair Power: combines ventilation with CO2 capture for buildings

Direct Air Capture’s Role in Meeting Net Zero Emissions

DAC plays an important role in meeting net zero emissions targets. And that’s by being a key CDR approach and a source of captured CO2 needed to produce carbon neutral products.

Net zero emissions mean reaching a point where CO2 emitted into the air by human activities is balanced by the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

There is a range of CDR approaches available for use today. These include nature-based solutions (reforestation/afforestation), enhanced natural processes, and technology-based approaches. DAC is a technology-based CDR approach that’s getting much attention and growing interest right now.

In fact, the world needs DAC to steer the global energy system to net zero emissions by 2050. The projections in the graph below show the potential of DAC in reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Estimations by the International Energy Agency showed that DAC can capture over 85 million tons of CO2 in 2030 and 980 million in 2050. But that needs a lot of work to do to help scale up CDR and DAC technologies to unlock such potential.
The good news is that the global trend today indicates high regard for more investments in DAC both from the public and private sectors. And through emissions reduction strategies like DAC, businesses can meet or even exceed their net zero targets.

Investments in DAC Technology

Growing recognition of DAC technologies as a CDR approach to cut down emissions is translating to more policy support and investment.

Since the start of 2020, almost $4 billion in public funding has been invested for DAC research, development, and deployment (RD&D). Likewise, leading direct air capture companies have raised more than one billion investments for scaling up their CO2 capture technologies.

The private-sector support for and investment in DAC has also expanded in recent years. Major organizations like Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude, and Lower Carbon Capital are investing in DAC companies.

Fortune 500 companies are also putting their money to help ramp up DAC technologies.

In April this year, five of the world’s biggest companies committed to invest $925 million in CDR technologies. Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey provide the funding for it. Shopify is also supporting DAC through its Sustainability Fund.

So far, Climeworks raised $650 million in equity funding to scale up its DAC technology. It’s the biggest amount ever raised by a carbon removal company.

Further support for DAC comes from programs like the XPRIZE (offering up to $100 million for innovative carbon removal projects including DAC). Also, the Breakthrough Energy’s Catalyst Program raises money from various sources to invest in CDR technologies like DAC.

Investors have one common goal in putting their money into scaling up CDR and DAC approaches: to reduce or offset their emissions.

Most carbon offsets offer credits for claiming to prevent a new emission elsewhere. Carbon credits work like permits for entities or companies to emit CO2. One credit equals one ton of CO2 emission.

Along with the rising interest in DAC, investing through carbon credits is also getting traction right now. Countries and businesses are in an urgent state to cut down emissions as early as 2030 and as late as 2050.

Carbon credits are one of those market tools that help individuals and organizations alike to reduce their emissions. When combined with direct emission reductions, carbon credits generated by DAC programs can tackle organizations’ unavoidable emissions, making net zero achievable.

Together, they also offer a mechanism to address emissions from the past. Hence, they provide a chance to achieve not just net zero, but also eventually help reverse climate change effects.

You can learn more about how this scheme works through our several guides. It helps to start by knowing the difference between carbon offsets and carbon credits here.

You can also check out our in-depth articles on carbon credits and carbon offsets for a closer look at how they work in helping companies reach net zero carbon emissions.

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Canada’s 1st Carbon Neutral Gold Project

Mayfair Gold is aiming to be the first carbon neutral gold project in Canada by using carbon credits to offset their project in Ontario.

The Canadian mineral exploration company is focused on sustainably advancing its 100% owned Fenn-Gib gold project in the Timmins region of Northern Ontario.

The firm stated that its Fenn-Gib venture is now Canada’s first carbon neutral gold project. And that’s after Mayfair completed its carbon credit purchases to offset its 2021 emissions, its first year of operations.

Carbon Credits for Mayfair’s Gold Project Emissions

A Toronto-based company Carbonzero conducted an independent assessment of Mayfair’s CO2-equivalent GHG emissions in 2021.

Carbonzero focuses on the design and implementation of corporate carbon reduction strategies and solutions. It helps firms measure, report, and reduce their emission.

Carbonzero revealed that Mayfair emitted 738 tons of CO2e. In particular, the assessment covers the company’s total emissions. These include Scope 1, Scope 2, and material Scope 3 emissions.

The emissions were mainly related to Mayfair’s exploration activities at Fenn-Gib, where a total of 54,741m was drilled in 89 holes.

The Fenn-Gib project comprises ~4,800ha, of which more than 75% is unexplored. It contains 2.08 million ounces of indicated gold resources (NI43-101).

Mayfair Gold hopes to raise gold deposit size to 3 million ounces. 

To compensate for Fenn-Gib’s emissions, Mayfair bought carbon offsets from the Thermal Residential Heating Aggregation Project.

Carbon offsets are tradeable certificates (or credits) issued to an emitter when CO2 is removed from (or prevented from getting emitted into) the atmosphere.

One carbon offset = one metric ton of carbon or other greenhouse gas. So in effect, one carbon offset represents one carbon credit.

The carbon credits Mayfair bought offset its Fenn-Gib gold project 2021 emissions.

The Thermal Residential Heating Aggregation Project replaces traditional residential fossil fuel combustion heating with solar-powered heating systems.

Private residences and other facilities are using the project’s solar heating systems across Canada. And the offsets it generates correspond to the amount of CO2e emissions avoided from getting into the air.

The offsets are being retired on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Clean CleanProjects Registry.

Gold: The Most Valued Mined Commodity

Gold is one of the top exports by value for many countries around the world. In developing nations, a growing gold sector results in positive economic effects. These include royalty payments and tax revenues, employment, and business opportunities for local communities.

The gold industry is a key driver of economic activity in Canada and it employs around 400,000 Canadians. It also provides the highest average annual industrial rate of pay in the country as per Mayfair’s CEO Patrick Evans. He said that:

“Gold is Canada’s most valuable mined commodity, valued in excess of $12 billion annually… The future of the industry depends critically upon sustainable development. At Fenn-Gib, we are laying the foundation for Canada’s first carbon neutral gold mine.”

He also added that Mayfair’s commitment started when the firm acquired Fenn-Gib. The firm will continue through its exploration, mine development, operations, and eventual closure.

But GHG emissions from gold mining activities still pose serious climate concerns.

Estimated emissions for the global gold market are around 126.4 Mt CO2-e a year. This equates to the emissions intensity of 28,700 kg CO2-e/kg gold for Scopes 1 and 2.

The major factor for the increasing emissions of gold over time is declining gold ore grades.

The chart below plots the projected progress of gold miners in reducing emissions intensity to 2030. The forecast is against the reductions necessary to align with 2°C and 1.5°C climate goals.

Even if gold mining emissions are not that huge, still gold producers seek ways to offset their carbon footprint to help fight climate change.

Mayfair’s carbon credits purchase for offsetting its gold project is one among the many other initiatives in the industry.

Australian-based Karora Resources has also announced reaching its carbon neutrality in 2021. The multi-asset mineral resource company also bought and retired verified carbon offset credits.

Mayfair Gold plans to provide a resource update in the third quarter of this year. While the preliminary economic assessment of its Fenn-Gib project will be over by the last quarter.

Mayfair successfully completed its metallurgical testing last March. It also confirms that the Fenn-Gib deposit can deliver robust gold recoveries. And that’s through both whole ore cyanidation (84.3% recoveries) and flotation (94% recoveries).

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Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative Grows to 273 firms and +$60 trillion in AUM

The Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) was launched in December 2020 with 30 asset managers representing about $9 trillion in Assets Under Management (AUM).

It has grown to now include 273 firms, representing over $60 trillion in assets under management.

The group’s main purpose is to encourage asset managers to support the goal of net zero by 2050. This is in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

The recent additions include the T. Rowe Price, Credit Suisse Asset Management, and Frontier Investment Management. While old members like AXA Investment Managers and Aviva Investors made their initial goals more ambitious.

Marco Morelli, AXA Investment Management Executive Chairman said:

“Since our first submission in October, we have further intensified our efforts across the whole business to develop an approach which is robust and can be implemented in an effective manner by investment teams… Meaning our revised figure now stands at 65% of total assets managed in line with net zero by 2050.”

NZAM Asset Managers Net Zero Commitment

NZAM is part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). Six Founding Partner investor networks formed the group namely:

Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), 
CDP Global, 
Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), 
Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), and
Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

NZAM asset managers’ commitment to transitioning their investment portfolios to align with the net zero emissions by 2050 is by far the biggest initiative there is.

According to IIGCC CEO, Stephanie Pfeifer:

“While there is some way to go, that $16 trillion of assets are now committed to being managed in line with achieving net zero by 2050, is a more than positive start – although targets must of course still translate into action.”

Signatories to the group agree to carry out a series of commitments including:

Setting interim targets for 2030 for the proportion of assets under management (AUM) in line with achieving net zero emissions
Review those goals every five years to ensure that the proportion of AUM covered by their net zero commitment increases up to 100%
Working in partnership with asset owner clients on their decarbonization goals

The set targets will see to it that asset managers assure real reductions in emissions at the businesses they invest in.

As per the NZAM’s report, the group members manage a total of $61 trillion in assets.

83 of the signatories who are managing $42 trillion have set their initial targets so far.

This translates to a total of $16 trillion of assets committed to meeting net zero emissions targets.

24 have tied 100% of their assets to the target. Meanwhile, 19 others have committed more than 75% of the funds they manage.

Rebecca Mikula-Wright, CEO of the AIGCC and the IGCC, noted that in the 18 months since NZAM formed, the world’s biggest asset managers have started setting targets and getting their portfolios on track for net zero by 2050. She further said that:

“This momentum must continue; climate is a risk that can’t be divested from… so investors will need to use their influence over capital flows, their influence on companies and their voice to policy-makers to speed up the transition to a net zero global economy.”

The Challenge in Setting Net Zero Emissions Targets

NZAM’s report noted that the geopolitical backdrop for target setting is “increasingly challenging”.

The group cited the increased politicization of ESG issues and changes in the regulatory and policy environments.

The report also highlighted some key themes that emerged during the target disclosure and review process. In particular, firms have different business models or approaches to the net zero transition process.

Also, some asset managers with varied clients across funds may face a lengthier process to align their AUM with net zero. But asset managers with concentrated funds may have more flexibility in aligning their assets.

Other big asset managers have voted against shareholders (from major banks that signed up to GFANZ) who desire to embrace climate goals.

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