Why the Demand Outlook for Carbon Credits Is Bright
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Why the Demand Outlook for Carbon Credits Is Bright

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The following content is sponsored by the Carbon Streaming Corporation.

 

Carbon Credits

The Briefing

  • Demand for carbon credits (also referred to as carbon offsets) is poised to skyrocket as corporations aim to meet climate goals.
  • By 2050, demand for carbon credits could rise up to 100-fold.

Why the Demand Outlook for Carbon Credits Is Bright

More than ever, carbon credits are playing a critical role in tackling climate change.

Based on demand projections for carbon credits, the voluntary carbon market could grow up to 100-fold by 2050. Voluntary carbon markets are where carbon credits can be purchased by those that voluntarily want to offset their emissions.

In this graphic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation, we show two demand scenarios in voluntary carbon markets:

 NGFS scenarios (GtCO₂)NGFS “immediate action” 1.5°C pathway scenario (GtCO₂)*
20200.1 0.1
2030E1.52.0
2050E<7<13

*With carbon dioxide removal
Source: McKinsey, NGFS = Network for Greening the Financial System

First, one gigaton is equal to one billion metric tons of CO₂— or one trillion kilograms.

According to the forecast from McKinsey, annual global demand for carbon credits could reach up to 1.5 to 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 and up to 7 to 13 billion metric tons by midcentury.

This has steep implications for the voluntary carbon market: McKinsey estimates that in 2020 just a fraction of these totals were retired by buyers, at roughly 95 million metric tons.

How Do Carbon Credits Work?

A carbon credit represents one metric ton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As companies contend with time and technological gaps in reducing their emissions, they purchase carbon credits to help offset their emissions. These purchases are facilitated by brokers who connect corporate buyers with project developers.

Project developers create carbon offset projects, such as protecting mangroves or reforestation. These projects, in turn, generate carbon credits.

Some projects also advance multiple United Nation Sustainable Development Goals by providing additional economic, social, educational, or biodiversity benefits.

Here is the transaction volume and value of the voluntary carbon markets.

YearVolume (MtCO₂e)Value (USD)
2021239$748M
2020188$473M
2019104$320M

Source: Ecosystem Marketplace, through Aug 31, 2021

In 2021, the value of the voluntary markets is projected to reach $1 billion— a record high. Driving this demand are corporate net-zero commitments, among other factors.

For instance, 1,565 companies with $12.5 trillion in revenue have set net-zero targets. Not only that, the 128 signatories of the Net-Zero Asset Managers Initiative, that represent $43 trillion in managed assets, are committed to supporting the goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner.

As bold action is being increasingly expected from shareholders, carbon credits will likely play a greater role in corporate climate strategy.

Where does this data come from?

Source: McKinsey, ‘A blueprint for scaling voluntary carbon markets to meet the challenge,” January 2021.

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Visualizing the 3 Scopes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Here’s a look at the 3 scopes of emissions that comprise a company’s carbon footprint, according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. (Sponsored Content)

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scopes of emissions

The Briefing

  • There are three groups or ‘scopes’ of emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard
  • A company’s supply chain emissions (included in Scope 3) are on average 5.5 times more than its direct operations (Scope 1 and Scope 2)

Visualizing the 3 Scopes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Net-zero pledges are becoming a common commitment for nations and corporations striving to meet their climate goals.

However, reaching net-zero requires companies to shrink their carbon footprints, which comprise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from various stages in the value chain. As more companies work to decarbonize, it’s important for them to identify and account for these different sources of emissions.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation explains the three scopes of GHG emissions and how they make up a company’s carbon footprint.

The 3 Scopes of GHG Emissions

According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, there are three groups or ‘scopes’ that categorize the emissions a company creates. The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, referred to as the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, provides the most widely accepted standards for reporting and accounting for emissions and is used by businesses, NGOs and governments.

Scope 1 Emissions

These are direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the company. Consequently, they are often the easiest to identify and then reduce or eliminate. Scope 1 emissions include:

  • On-site manufacturing or industrial processes
  • Computers, data centers, and its owned facilities
  • On-site transportation or company vehicles

Scope 2 Emissions

These are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired energy that the company consumes. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the site that produces the energy and the emissions depend on both the company’s level of consumption and the means by which the energy was generated (e.g. fossil fuels vs renewable energy). Scope 2 emissions include:

  • Purchased electricity, heating, cooling, and steam

Scope 3 Emissions

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur throughout a company’s value chain. These occur from sources not owned or controlled by the company and are typically difficult to control and thereby reduce.

Scope 3 emissions often make up the largest portion of a company’s carbon footprint. According to the CDP, a company’s supply chain emissions (included in Scope 3) are on average 5.5 times more than emissions from its direct operations (Scope 1 and 2). These include emissions from:

  • Employee commuting or business travel
  • Purchased goods and services
  • Use of sold products
  • Transportation and distribution of products

Companies can reduce their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by improving operational efficiency and using renewable energy sources. However, managing and reducing Scope 3 emissions can be difficult depending on the company’s upstream and downstream activities.

For example, controlling the emissions from the extraction of raw materials used in a company’s end-product or from the usage of such product by a customer is not entirely in the company’s hands. But this is where carbon offsets can help.

Offsetting Emissions with Carbon Offsets

One carbon offset, also referred to as a carbon credit, represents one metric ton of GHG emissions that has been avoided, reduced or removed from the atmosphere. By purchasing carbon credits, companies can offset the emissions that are difficult to reduce or eliminate, such as Scope 3 emissions.

In fact, the voluntary carbon markets will surpass $1 billion in annual transaction value for the first time in 2021. As decarbonization plans pick up pace, carbon credits will play an important role in helping companies achieve their climate goals.

Carbon Streaming Corporation is focused on acquiring, managing and growing a high-quality and diversified portfolio of investments in carbon credits.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard

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The Decline of U.S. Car Production

U.S. car production has been in a long-term downward trend since the 1970s. We examine some of the factors driving this trend.

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The Briefing

  • U.S. auto manufacturing has been in a downward trend since the 1970s
  • Overseas competitors have gradually eroded the market share of America’s Big Three
  • Recent events like the global chip shortage present further setbacks

U.S. Car Production Falls to a New Low

Germany may have been the birthplace of the automobile, but it was America that developed the methods for mass production.

Created in 1913, Henry Ford’s assembly line greatly reduced the time it took to build a car. This also made cars more affordable, and America’s automotive industry quickly became the largest in the world. As we can see in the chart above, this dominance wouldn’t last forever.

From a high of nearly 10 million cars per month in the 1970s, the U.S. produced just 1.4 million in June 2021. Here are some reasons for why the country produces a fraction of the cars it used to.

Global Competition

America’s Big Three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler*) have been unable to defend their market share from overseas competitors. The following table shows how Honda and Toyota were able to break into the U.S. market over a span of just five decades.

YearFordGMChryslerBig Three
Total Market Share
HondaToyota
196029.3%45.7%10.4%85.4%--
197028.3%38.9%14.9%82.1%-2.0%
198020.5%44.2%9.1%73.8%3.3%6.2%
199023.8%35.2%12.0%71.0%6.0%7.6%
200022.6%28.0%13.0%63.6%6.5%9.1%
201016.4%18.8%9.2%44.4%10.5%15.0%

*Chrysler is now a part of Stellantis N.V., a multinational corporation.
Source: WardsAuto

The 1970s presented an incredible opportunity for Honda and Toyota, which at the time were known for producing smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

First was the Clean Air Act of 1970, which imposed limits on the amount of emissions a car could produce. Then came the 1973 oil crisis, which caused a massive spike in gasoline prices.

As consumers switched to smaller cars, American brands struggled to compete. For example, the flawed design of the Ford Pinto (Ford’s first subcompact car) was exposed in 1972 after one exploded in a rear-end collision. The ensuing lawsuit, Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company, undoubtedly left a stain on the automaker’s reputation.

Production Moves to Mexico

2018 was a controversial year for GM as it came under fire by the Trump administration for closing four of its U.S. plants. That same year, GM became Mexico’s biggest automaker.

The decision to outsource is well-founded from a business standpoint. Mexico offers cheaper labor, lower taxes, and close proximity for logistics. Altogether, these benefits add up to roughly $1,200 in savings per car.

It’s important to note that GM isn’t alone in this decision. BMW, Ford, and many others have also invested in Mexico to produce cars destined for the United States.

Shifts in the Market

There are other, less obvious factors to consider too.

Modern cars are much more reliable, meaning Americans don’t need to purchase a new one as often. 2020 marks four consecutive years of increase for the average vehicle age in the U.S., which now sits at 12 years old.

“In the mid-’90s, 100,000 miles was about all you would get out of a vehicle. Now, at a 100,000 miles a vehicle is just getting broken in.”
– Todd Campau, Associate Director, IHS Markit

Rising car prices could also be playing a part. The average price of a new car was $41,000 as of July 2021, up from around $35,700 in May 2018.

Can U.S. Car Production Make a Comeback?

Recent events are a grim reminder of the direction U.S. car production is heading.

As part of its plant closures, GM shuttered its Lordstown facility in 2019. This broke a 2008 agreement in which GM pledged to keep 3,700 employees at the location through 2028. The company had received over $60 million in tax credits as part of this deal, and $28 million was ordered to be paid back.

COVID-19 has presented further issues, such as the ongoing chip shortage which has impacted the production of more than 1 million U.S.-made vehicles.

Not all hope is lost, however.

Tesla now employs over 70,000 Americans across its production facilities in California, Nevada, New York, and soon, Texas. The company is joined by Lucid Motors and Rivian, two entrants into the EV industry that have both opened U.S. plants in 2021.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Trading Economics

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