FAQ

10% of all sequestration otherwise qualifying for a PGCC will not be but will be placed in a nominal “insurance” account. This is a buffer from which unexpected losses, such as from fire, windthrow, pests and other mortality can be deducted. It is “social” insurance because these losses are shared by every forester.

While PFS has considerable intellectual property to protect its methodology (5 patents pending, 2 registered trademarks and a registered copyright, either in its own name or with exclusive rights to use commercially) there are areas of know how that it still seeks to protect.

It is the first standard we are aware of that both certifies forestry carbon capture and long-term storage and does this with a second party sustainablity assurance.

The standard is sufficiently robust to withstand successful regulatory action for making misleading statements without suitable qualifications (none are needed with the Platinum Standard) while at the same time giving a robust defence against greenwashing.

Yes, after signing an NDA. You can search some of these on public databases without signing an NDA, but how they are applied to allow PFS to offer PGCC at NZ$20/tCO2e may not be understood from the registered IP alone.

If consumers lack confidence that they are actually helping to save the planet they will ignore claims made by emitters. This is being reinforced by regulatory agencies looking harder at offset claims, low integrity claims and use of words such as “carbon neutral” and outlawing them. It is a vicious downward spiral. Consumers will then sue emitters who relied on them, and emitters in turn may sue the certifiers who told them they were fit for purpose.

2100 is the date the IPCC requires us to have kept average global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels or face catastrophic consequences. That is why forest carbon removals before 2100 must be proved to continue to be captured until 2100, otherwise removals are only conditional and shouldn’t be counted as provably helping the planet.

This is an additionality question. If an intervention turns a chance that a tree might be standing in 2100 into a certainty, that provides the additionality the planet needs. Helping the planet is no longer chancing the roulette wheel.

Again, this is an additionality issue. However, there are rebuttable presumptions that cover these issues.

If a carbon credit, voluntary or mandatory, do not meet scientifically defensible tests, as PFS does, they are all just transfers of wealth as far as the planet is concerned until it can be proved in 2100 that they are still standing. Some commentators now acknowledge that conditionality but argue conditionality helps the planet by slowing climate change.  It is unlikely to because the goal is 2100. Cutting a tree down in 2080 is more harmful than not planting it in the first place because rising GHG levels slow absorption of such gases.

PFS does not actually say that. It says the planet is more likely to meet that goal if trees are permanently planted than if they are not. To meet that goal, emitters need to drastically reduce emissions and at the same time remove from the atmosphere GHGs they have already put there. Cutting down a tree before 2100 does not do the latter. The planet will be less likely to meet those goals unless trees are left standing.

Two things. Only a small part of a tree can be turned into lumber that can or will be stored permanently. On no scenario, including replanting and storing timber, will the planet be more likely to meet the IPCC goals than leaving a tree in the ground until 2100.  Just to be clear, cutting a tree down will just make it more unlikely that IPCC goals will be met, and drive GHGs higher than they would otherwise be.

Offsetting is a fraud on the planet. We are not the first to say this. You cannot use forest sequestration as an excuse not to reduce emissions. To meet the IPCC goals, you must do both. The Platinum Standard forbids offsetting.

Watch this space. UK and EU regulators have already moved against offsetting. Other countries will follow. Earlier in 2023 the Guardian newspaper of UK found that 90%+ of offset schemes certified by Verra, the world’s then largest offset certifier, had no discernible impact on the planet.

PFS estimates the number of worldwide forests that can be suitably proved to remain standing in 2100, both from a silviculture and legal perspective, is extremely limited. To take New Zealand as an example, one of the few countries that grow trees that will meet the Platinum Standard, there are about 1.7m ha of exotic forests in NZ, but not all would qualify for certification if an application was made, and of the balance not all will apply. 

Probably, but it is not doing it alone. First, it has the benefit of fair trading and financial market legislation on its side. Second it has financial reporting standards on its side, and these are increasingly requiring honest and fair reporting of climate risks for companies and how risks are being managed in an effective way. There are many other reasons for honesty in green claims. Emitters have their banks and insurers to worry about. They also have trade protectionism rearing its head.

Probably, but it is not doing it alone. First, it has the benefit of fair trading and financial market legislation on its side. Second it has financial reporting standards on its side, and these are increasingly requiring honest and fair reporting of climate risks for companies and how risks are being managed in an effective way. There are many other reasons for honesty in green claims. Emitters have their banks and insurers to worry about. They also have trade protectionism rearing its head.

It cannot be deceptive or misleading. If forestry CCs do not guarantee removed GHGs will remain removed until at least 2100, because CO2 will certainly remain there until then, an emitter cannot imply otherwise. If it can prove longevity, it can go on to say that its product has embedded CO2 of x tonnes, which will remain in the atmosphere until at least 2100, but it has removed the equivalent tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere for at least as long.

PFS has not found anyone that certifies to the Standard it does. That is why it has created its own Standard. Once PFS certifies a forest it will obtain second party certification (sustainability assurance).

To the extent these rely on offsetting or low integrity carbon credits they share the same defects. Using these terms is squarely in the cross hairs of regulators in the UK and EU.