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Our Path towards Monitoring, Reporting and Verification

30 Jun 2022 | Peter Reinhardt

Today we’re sharing our path toward rigorous monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) for bio-oil sequestration. Our goal is to understand the broader community's view on MRV and to serve as a resource for other founders seeking to develop MRV for their own pathways.

While a number of legacy voluntary registries and certifiers exist today, they unfortunately do not meet high quality standards for permanence, additionality, leakage, etc. So, together with key parts of the carbon removal ecosystem, we’ve decided to begin forging a new path for carbon removal companies to monitor, report and verify their deliveries with a sufficiently high quality bar to create long-term trust in the carbon removal ecosystem.

The process for verification of a carbon removal delivery goes like this:

1: A “protocol” is drafted describing the physical process and carbon accounting for a particular method, e.g. bio-oil sequestration.

2: The protocol is “certified” (or not) by a third party as scientifically valid and complete in its carbon accounting.

3: The protocol is operated to deliver carbon removals.

4: The delivery is “verified” by a third party auditor against the protocol.

The first and third steps are non-controversial. Drafting a protocol and operating it fit neatly into the mandate of a carbon removal company itself. Typically the surrounding ecosystem is involved in the drafting to help ensure it is complete and rigorous, before going to a certification body.

The second step, certification, is where we find the ecosystem is struggling today. Certification is fundamentally about trust, and unfortunately as article, after article, after article, after article, after article, after article, after article have shown, the existing certification bodies have not succeeded in sustaining the necessary levels of quality and trust. Part of this is likely explained by the business model and incentive structure of legacy certifiers (registries), who take a 10-30% revenue cut of every carbon offset sold. Given these issues with quality and trust, we would like to see a new certification body come into existence that is de-conflicted in its business model, with more rigorous standards for quality (e.g. permanence, additionality, leakage, etc. see Frontier AMC’s list of quality criteria here). If you're working on building a solution for certification that has the right incentives to support long-term quality standards, please get in touch. We’re interested.

Finally, verification is relatively straightforward. As a society we know how to do financial accounting audits, and the pattern replicates easily into carbon accounting. A third party verifier inspects documentation of operations and visits field locations to verify the claimed operations against the protocol. Verifiers for programs like CARB LCFS already have the combined field and accounting audit capacity to rigorously execute a verification process.

So, the area that needs improvement is certification, and we are explicitly moving outside the existing voluntary market certification pathways to help chart a new course towards a better certification process. Our goal below is to lay out a blueprint for other carbon removal companies to prepare similarly rigorous protocols for a to-be-created certification body that upholds sufficiently strong quality standards that can earn long-term trust from all stakeholders.

Charm’s Path

Our first customers, like Stripe, Microsoft and Shopify, verified our first carbon removal deliveries last year quite carefully. They studied our life cycle analyses, reviewed our trucking manifests, and FaceTimed our injection well operators. This is a good start, but it is not a scalable way to establish the veracity of bio-oil sequestration-based carbon removal.

To take it to the next level, we clearly needed to develop a rigorous bio-oil sequestration protocol, as outlined above.

So, over the past few months we’ve worked to formally document the processes and methods behind our life cycle analyses and carbon accounting. Then, we started two work streams to formalize this for two different audiences: voluntary markets and regulatory markets.

For voluntary markets, we started working with EcoEngineers and CarbonDirect’s team of scientists (Julio Friedmann, Erica Belmont and Daniel Sanchez) to craft an independent protocol for voluntary carbon removal markets. Drafts of this document were shared for feedback with customers including Stripe, Microsoft, and Shopify; with NGOs including Carbon180, ClearPath and more; and with industry experts and stakeholders including Ryan Orbuch at Lowercarbon Capital, Robert Hoglund and more. Their feedback has been used to strengthen and clarify the protocol. We look forward to releasing this proto-protocol, along with updates to our public carbon removal registry in the coming weeks.

For regulatory markets, we are working with EcoEngineers to develop an extensive and rigorous protocol to serve as the basis for regulatory discussions that engage all stakeholders, and we look forward to sharing this more in the coming months.

Lastly, if you are a carbon removal company figuring out the pathway to certification and verification, or you are building/considering building something to help with certification and verification, please reach out. We’re eager to share notes.

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Peter Reinhardt


By injecting bio-oil into deep geological formations, Charm permanently puts CO₂ back underground.

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