The costs of developing a standard 60,000 tonne small scale project are considerable. Auditor fees, plus the time project developers need to understand and negotiate the complex rules set by the Gold Standard used to mean that only projects promising to deliver close to 60,000 tonnes throughout their lifetime were economically viable. Any low volume project simply was too expensive to develop and because these projects tended to be located in Least Developed Countries, this meant that overall these countries were unrepresented in the carbon market as a whole. This was despite there being many opportunities to deliver emission reductions with significant positive social and economic impacts – something that project investors are increasingly keen to see.
The microprogramme of activity concept was established by the Gold Standard to help catalyse investment in underrepresented regions and especially in smaller projects that previously were commercially non-viable. A microprogramme sets rules for the inclusion of any number of individual projects that each are limited to an offset of 10,000 tonnes – the initial time consuming project audit (known as validation) is focussed only on the microprogramme. This audit confirms the rules by which the inclusion of individual projects are governed and, once agreed, allows new projects to be included with a streamlined, simplified check. Overall, this means that an unlimited number of small projects up to 10,000 tonnes can be developed more quickly, more cheaply and with less risk than compared to the standard small scale process.
This is something that co2balance has long recognised the importance of and we championed it from the start and indeed were the first organisation to register a multi-country microprogramme of activities. Collectively, our microprogrammes have this month reached a landmark 40 mini projects across 9 countries, totalling 400,000 tonnes of emission reductions annually. This goes to show the collective impact that many small projects can have and we are confident that the success of the concept will continue to grow.