Where does my money go when I buy carbon credits from Ekos?
Ekos carbon credits are priced to cover the costs of producing them and retailing them. At the forefront of this is paying the forest owner who has given up the right to either agricultural revenue (by reforesting), or timber revenue (by protecting their forests). Other costs include conservation management, such as pest and weed control, but also establishing the forest in the first place (for reforestation projects). In addition, we provide a retail platform consistent with international carbon standards that enables buyers and sellers to engage in a transaction. These annual costs are met by revenues from carbon credit sales.
How many trees are planted as a result of my purchase?
It costs approximately NZ$15 per tree to establish one of these forests (land preparation, purchase the seedling, plant the seedling, register the project, control pests and weeds, consents and planning). But purchases of carbon credits also go towards the ongoing costs, such as conservation management and revenue for land owners listed above.
How are carbon credits made?
Carbon credits are made by planting new forests or protecting old forests.
The number of trees planted for each carbon credit will vary depending on the project, but our projects will typically involve planting 800 - 1,000 trees per hectare for a certified carbon project.
In the case of new forests, the amount of carbon a tree captures from the atmosphere changes as the tree grows, as seen in the diagrams to the right.
Is it true the the benefit from forest carbon projects last only as long as the life of the tree?
No. Carbon sequestration turns carbon dioxide gas into a solid and stores it in the landscape as wood. This lasts for the life of the forest - not the tree. A forest is a population of trees that can live as a forest system for many thousands of years - the forests in our national parks have existed for around 10,000 years (some lowland forests have been standing for much longer).
Why are some cheap carbon credits available on the international carbon market?
The average wholesale carbon price in the international forest carbon market is around US$6/tCO2e (around NZ$9). This average takes into account very large scale industrial carbon projects that can produce carbon credits at very low prices. The average wholesale carbon price for New Zealand carbon credits is currently around NZ$25. Ekos’s carbon credits come from our NZ and Pacific Island projects. These are not large scale industrial carbon projects, but are fair trade-styled community-based projects designed to deliver sustainable land management, biodiversity and community outcomes. For these reasons, we need to charge a carbon price that can sustain these projects.
Can I offset my carbon use based on an estimate? If so, what carbon status will I be granted?
This involves a customer purchasing carbon credits when there has either been no specific measurement or where we have not been able to verify this measurement. If you wish to purchase $X worth of carbon credits, we would provide a Carbon Friendly certificate. This way we would not review your carbon footprint measurement.
Are you not just providing businesses with licenses to pollute?
No. Individuals and businesses already have those licenses because it is not illegal to use electricity, drive, fly, refrigerate, freight goods, or discard waste. Also, as animals and not plants, humans are net emitters of carbon dioxide by default. Our customers are people and businesses who have come to the conclusion that we all need to tackle climate change together and want to play their part. They have then taken the voluntary action to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. They have then taken responsibility for those emissions that they could not reduce to zero by offsetting those emissions. This offsetting is not compulsory, and yet funds reforestation and forest protection projects that sequester and store carbon in living carbon reservoirs (forests).
Are you not just commodifying and exploiting nature by trading in forest protection and reducing nature to a commercial price?
No. Firstly, nature has been commodified long ago in the form of wood, and agricultural products from cleared forests. We are simply pricing the human labour and technology cost to care for and even restore nature. We are not exploiting nature by working to protect it any more than a doctor is exploiting a patient by combating disease or injury. We are just using a market instrument to raise money from the private sector to look after nature and the climate system. There is not enough grant money available to solve these problems and this is why it is useful to tap into private funds to do this work.