My first day on the job as NCX’s Chief Sustainability Officer was Monday August 9, the very same day that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its long-awaited Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The updated report reaffirms the need for aggressive and urgent action, and NCX’s business is uniquely positioned to help meet that need with the urgency it requires. I’m thrilled to be a part of the NCX team.
The IPCC Assessment Reports are periodic syntheses based on the most recent science, and the last such Assessment (AR5) was released back in 2013. In true IPCC fashion, over nearly 4000 pages, the full AR6 Report lays out in excruciating detail the key certainties and uncertainties with respect to Earth’s changing climate.
The conclusions reported in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) are based on consensus, and are agreed line by line -- in plenary -- by each and every one of the scientists who participated in drafting the full Report. I know from first-hand experience that this process is time-consuming and arduous, but it’s effective because the result is a set of carefully worded, yet broadly supported conclusions with international impact. The IPCC is well known for its conservative approach, so it’s notable that this recent report is the most unequivocal yet. These scientists are alarmed. They are very alarmed, and AR6 explains why.
Three key conclusions are especially resonant:
- We are already experiencing warming at an unprecedented scale. Empirical evidence for climate change is only getting stronger – and we can unequivocally attribute the observed increases in extremes such as heatwaves, drought, and heavy precipitation to human-induced climate change.
- We’ve already emitted enough GHG to “bake in” additional warming at least until mid-century. On average Earth’s surface temperature has already warmed just over 1 degree C, and there’s no going back from some additional change beyond that, no matter what actions we take today.
- There is still time to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, but we’ll have to be aggressive. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C will require that human society reaches net-zero – soon, like by 2050. And here’s some good news: the changes we’re about to experience are likely reversible if we take the required action and remain a net-zero society.
So what can we do? Stand up and pay attention! Each and every one of us will have to do everything in our power to reduce our own footprint, and it’s also true that the private sector can, and will, step up to help. Companies like NCX are working to create and scale the net-zero technologies to build the revamped economy we’re going to need in order to get us there.
But here’s the really important thing: the IPCC report speaks to the time value of action. Immediate action at scale is critical to getting us on a path to avert climate catastrophe, and forests can provide an immediately scalable, deployable solution. NCX's ton-year accounting approach ensures we get the present value of 100 years of climate impact today, providing immediate impact in this critical decade for the climate. NCX's “pay for performance” approach ensures that forest carbon projects drive real, additional change on the landscape, and NCX's overall program -- with its data-driven accessible platform and inclusive 1-year terms -- enables any landowner of any size to participate, democratizing access for millions of landowners who otherwise would not be part of carbon markets, creating real and measurable impact at scale. So yes, we do need to invest in technologies that displace fossil fuels and remove carbon from the atmosphere. But we can't afford to wait to take action until those technologies are widely available and affordable. Real carbon offsets enable society to take immediate action now - creating a bridge to a fossil fuel free future and buying us time. The longer we delay immediate action, the more we'll suffer.
At NCX, we’re working hard to deliver Real, Immediate, Scalable, and Efficient climate impact via our Natural Capital Exchange, linking landowners with net-zero pioneers in order to mitigate GHG emissions. NCX has already opened up millions of acres of forest to participation in forest carbon programs, all of which would likely have been left out of the solution with standard forest carbon offset programs. Lucky for all of us, we have forests and landowners who are willing to join us in climate action. If we value their contribution correctly and get the incentives right, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is within reach.
Reaching net-zero will take all of us. If you’re interested in joining NCX see our career openings here.