28th February, 2024

Today, Guyana announced the issuance of the world’s first carbon credits that are eligible for use by airlines in Phase 1 of CORSIA – the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s global emissions reduction programme.

The credits issued today are for Guyana’s 2021 performance in sustaining one of the world’s highest levels of tropical forest coverage, and one of the world’s lowest deforestation rates.

A total of 7.14 million credits were issued by the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) for conformance with ART’s “TREES” standard. ART is one of only two carbon crediting programs approved by CORSIA for Phase 1. 2.5 million of these credits have already been sold at a floor price of US$20/t, as announced in late 2022 – leaving a total of 4.64 million credits that will now be available on the international market, including for use by airlines towards CORSIA emission reduction targets.

According to Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo: “15 years ago, we were the first developing country to produce a low carbon development strategy. At its core was the belief that we could build a model for progress on REDD+ – as agreed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC. We demonstrated how results-based payments can work, in partnership with the Government of Norway, earning US$224 million. We then showed that market-facing standards for national-scale action can attract private finance in the voluntary market and have so far concluded a minimum of US$750 million in sales.

But we have always said that if the world is to achieve ambitious climate outcomes, we need to see both a massive expansion of compliance markets, and an operational REDD+ mechanism within the UNFCCC. Today’s issuance for the CORSIA compliance market – under the aegis of a United Nations entity, ICAO – stays true to the UN’s REDD+ framework, addresses the scale and integrity that are needed for global climate goals, and shows that it is possible to simultaneously advance the legitimate development aspirations of the people of forest countries.”

Guyana chose the ART-TREES standard because it helps advance these objectives – by supporting national-scale REDD+ while at the same time offering private sector buyers assurance that credits are high-integrity, conservatively quantified, meets rigorous environmental and social safeguards, and issued as serialized credits on a transparent registry only after independent validation and verification.

Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), created through extensive national consultations, first set out the country’s vision for REDD+ in 2009.

The country’s forests – part of the Amazon and Guiana Shield – have some of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, store 19.5 Gt of carbon dioxide equivalent, and remove about 154 million tons per year from the atmosphere. The LCDS articulated a model for maintaining these forests for the long term by generating revenues through valuing their climate services and then investing those revenues in a new development pathway.

100% of the revenues from the sale of forest carbon are invested in Guyana’s LCDS priorities, the latest iteration of which was identified through a seven-month national consultation leading to LCDS 2030.

Indigenous peoples and local communities from all of Guyana’s regions were consulted during the development of the LCDS. The National Toshaos’ Council, consisting of elected representatives of all Indigenous villages and communities in Guyana, unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the LCDS. In 2023, all 242 villages and communities throughout the country held community meetings where every village and community voted to participate in the REDD+ programme and created Village Sustainability Plans. 15 percent of the revenue from the sale of carbon credits is available for direct investment in these Plans and all communities have already set up dedicated bank accounts and received funds from the initial sale of 2016-2020 TREES credits. Over 800 projects are underway in indigenous communities with results as varied as the construction of eco-lodges, the creation of watermelon farms, transportation for children and farmers, and improved public sanitation facilities.

The remaining 85 percent of the revenues from the sale of carbon credits is being invested in multi-community priorities – including land titling for Indigenous villages, renewable energy, repairing canals, and protecting against climate change.

“For us, the Indigenous people of Guyana, the forests are our lifeblood, but we have not always been rewarded for protecting them. Now, every village receives payments from the sale of carbon credits, making standing trees more valuable. That means our people can invest in development priorities that were identified by villagers themselves. Already, I can see the tangible positive impacts of carbon finance in my village and across the other communities that are part of this program,” said Toshao Derrick John, Chair of the National Toshaos’ Council.

— END —