Supercharging carbon offsetting with nature-based solutions

Supercharging carbon offsetting with nature-based solutions
May 2024
Szilvia SzabĂł

Szilvia Szabó ⬤ Author

Journalist, Editor
Journalist, Editor
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Although the primary goal is to reach climate targets by extensively reducing carbon emissions, there is still an increasing need for offsetting, creating a significant market for validated carbon projects.

UK-based climate-tech company Earthly provides investment opportunities through high-quality nature-based solutions that remove carbon, restore biodiversity, and improve livelihoods.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines nature-based solutions as actions to “address societal challenges through the protection, sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems, benefiting both biodiversity and human well-being”.

Earthly's mission is to help businesses embrace this approach and remove at least 1 billion tonnes of carbon by 2030 by investing in nature.

Right after its launch in 2020, the start-up attracted prominent global brands, and Oliver Bolton, Co-Founder and CEO, says one reason is that they have a rigorous process to screen each project and invested the first two years not to cut any corners to establish a portfolio that partners can trust.

“With partnerships, it`s all about trust. We aim to build long-term strategic collaborations and offer tailored solutions to match our partners' values with geographic locations and delivered impacts,” Oliver explains.

Oliver Bolton, Co-Founder and CEO of Earthly

They developed an extensive assessment tool that analyses 106 data points and aggregates information from data partners to evaluate and rate investable projects based on their impact on carbon, biodiversity, and people.

In addition, a well-curated independent scientific board and satellite monitoring also feed into the screening process, ensuring that only the highest integrity and trusted projects are selected.

“There is huge nervousness around greenwashing at a time when showing climate leadership would be so important. Companies should be brave to talk about their climate action and not give in to greenhushing," Oliver adds.

To support partners in communicating their involvement, Earthly also provides a unique 3D digital visualisation tool that aggregates the partner`s impact into one visual as an island, presenting a proportion of the projects they invested in.

'“Nature is abstract, and we wanted to make it more realistic and relatable. It also offers an opportunity for our partners to better engage with their stakeholders, use these visuals in their external communications, or even make their ESG reporting more engaging.”

Each project is transparently featured on Earthly`s website with detailed information, a simple visual guide on the overall impact score, and a link to relevant SDGs besides the potential impact and type of investment needed.

Their project portfolio includes mangrove restoration in Pakistan, woodland regeneration in Scotland, and agroforestry in Kenya, among others.

One of their highest-rated projects is a peatland protection and restoration program in Indonesia that aims to bring degraded land back to life by protecting and rewetting 22,900 ha of peatland rainforest in Sumatra.

So far, it has prevented the release of over 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and improved a critical biodiversity region home to over ten critically Endangered Species and 19 Vulnerable Species, enhancing the livelihood of locals.

Image: Earthly / Eden Reforestation Projects

Mangrove planting in Madagascar is one of the investment opportunities offered by Earthly.

This trail-blazing project run by Eden Reforestation Projects has reforestation and poverty alleviation at its heart.

To date, they have planted over 334 million trees across eight countries and created opportunities for locals to work.

Although Earthly`s main role is to screen projects, derisk investments, carry out ongoing evaluations to monitor impacts, and report on outcomes, Oliver shares that they are now exploring opportunities to co-invest in origination projects, which means they would get involved in creating projects from scratch.

Talking about challenges, he says, “Budget cuts will push these projects aside first, and you can only fight funding challenges by showing the relevance and return on investment in an easy-to-understand way that gets all your teams and departments to see why this is important.”

As of today, over 600 partners have invested in nature-based projects through Earthly, which allows Oliver and his team to increase their impact and further develop their operations.

On a personal level, Oliver feels it is such a privilege to work in a way that turns money into impact and that he gets to see the result of his work. “Having my son born, I would like to have a conversation with him that this is what I have worked in.”

His passion doesn`t stop at building Earthly. He has a track record of building purpose-driven ventures, such as Europe's first B Corp drinks company, Waterbomb, and other projects.

He recently embarked on a new adventure by launching the Wilding Earth monthly video series on YouTube that features the UK's leading nature regeneration projects and the inspiring people behind them.

Szilvia SzabĂł

Szilvia Szabó ⬤ Author

Journalist, Editor
Journalist, Editor