UPDATED 26 February 2024


Grow to Zero 2018: Gold Standard Conference

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Villa Elisabeth, Berlin

Grow to Zero 2018: Sustainable Solutions for a Prosperous Planet

We have two years to change the trajectory of global emissions if we are to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Where are we on the path to decarbonisation? The SDGs provide a $12 trillion opportunity for business. But last year’s stock-take indicated the need for major investments in the near-term to accelerate progress to meet targets by 2030.

How can we ramp up action? How can business come together with government and civil society to create win-win-win scenarios? And critically: How do we measure progress to ensure we’re on track? Grow to Zero is centred on posing difficult questions and offering practical solutions.

  • Sustainability professionals will learn about new programmes to gain climate leadership positions while delivering toward the SDGs
  • Investors will hear about new ways to reduce risk in climate-friendly projects and report holistically on SDG impact
  • Developers of climate protection projects can deepen their understanding about policy developments that influence their projects, build technical capacity, and connect with new partners to support their work
  • Everyone will find opportunities to network and launch new ideas, solutions, and collaborations

Workshop outcomes


Project Developer and NGO Track

  • Work shop summary

    With Paris Agreement commitments falling far short of what is needed to limit global warming well below 2°C, the voluntary carbon market can play a critical role in mobilising private sector finance for GHG emission reductions. However, the broad risk for double counting and double claiming poses a serious threat to the credibility and viability of this market. With support from the German Government, Gold Standard has developed and tested a tool to assess and define the risk of double counting of Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs) for its pipeline of projects. In this workshop, Gold Standard will outline the findings of the risk assessment and present several solutions to overcome the double counting risk. Workshop participants will be asked to provide input into these solutions in an effort to build consensus to shape the future voluntary market.

    • Risk assessment findings + overview of proposed solutions – Owen Hewlett, Chief Technical Officer, Gold Standard
    • Accounting adjustment solution - Lambert Schneider, Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute
    • Claims for post-2020 markets - Sarah Leugers, Director of Communications, Gold Standard
    • Facilitated roundtable discussions focused on each solution
  • Key Issues

    • While some dissenting views were shared on whether claims need to shift, consensus reflected the need for strong, credible claims. Further, there seemed to be a preference for a unified claim versus different claims for different instruments – citing the fact that voluntary market buyers already face scrutiny for voluntarily financing emission reductions beyond their operational boundaries and because those claims are the result of 15 years efforts to drive ambition. More complex systems (and multiple levels of claims) run the risk of greater opacity or confusion among civil society critics, and could increase the perception of greenwashing.
    • Participants also recognised the need for the market to work together and not for actors to go in different directions as the market would become fragmented, diluted and confused.
    • It was noted that an 'accounting adjustment' will almost certainly be pursued for ITMOs and for the aviation sector's CORSIA market mechanism, raising the possibility that companies will prioritise so-called 'CORSIA-eligible' credits because of a perception that they have a greater impact or environmental integrity. 
  • Next steps

    • Gold Standard will host webinars for stakeholders not able to join the conference as well as participate in related events at Innovate4Climate and continue engagement with the CORSIA process for alignment. These webinars also serve to kick off Phase 2 of our programme on Future-proofing the voluntary carbon market.
    • Webinar 1 Tue, May 15, 2018 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM CEST
    • Webinar 2 Tue, May 15, 2018 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM EDT
    • Gold Standard will engage with stakeholders to fully develop the new solutions presented. This will include convening a working group through the Network Platform.
  • Presentations

    Future Proofing the Voluntary Carbon Market for Paris Agreement + Corsia


    Owen Hewlett, Gold Standard,

    Sarah Leugers, Gold Standard,

    Lambert Schneider, Stockholm Environment Institute

  • Workshop summary

    Gold Standard presented the overview of Gold Standard for the Global Goals, important learnings since launch of the Standard in July 2017, key revisions made to clarify and simplify the application of the standard and next steps.

    • Introduction and overview – Abhishek Goyal, Senior Director
    • Facilitated roundtable discussions focused on key questions on Gold Standard for the Global Goals:
    • Transition process/Gold Standard for the Global Goals rules
    • Renewable Energy Labels for RE projects
  • Key issues

    • Stakeholders appreciated the Gold Standard rule change announced in March 2018 to allow V2.2 and earlier version projects to retain 3 x 7 crediting period.
    • Requests made for Gold Standard to develop activity-specific safeguards checklist, guidelines on blind scoring and other tools to facilitate stakeholder consultation, and increased harmonisation or consistency of project reviews.
    • RE label well received but it was noted that the market is not yet well developed.
    • It was noted that CDM also allow iRECs to be produced from CDM projects and wondered if GS could considering labelling here, as well as for other RE schemes.
    • Suggestion to include the emission factor on the GS Labelled iREC (as RE projects are not all completely zero carbon in generation – e.g. biomass projects).
  • Next Steps

    • Gold Standard to focus on new tools/systems to support project developers in streamlining the certification process.
    • Gold Standard will focus on raising the profile of the Renewable Energy label in the coming months and looking to help early movers through the process.
  • Presentations

  • Workshop summary

    Gold Standard NGO Supporters and other interested participants learned about the current and planned initiatives and programmes, including the launch of the Gold Standard Network Platform. This interactive session explored how NGO supporters can best engage with Gold Standard and collaborate with other stakeholders on existing and planned programmes as well as new ideas for the future.

    Facilitated by Bernardo Lazo, Director of Partnerships and Business Development, Gold Standard:

    • Overview of the GS platform and the role for NGOs to co-create new solutions
    • Facilitated brainstorming session to identify topics and focus areas on which NGO supporters would like to engage and collaborate
    • Opportunities to engage
  • Key issues

    • On advocacy and policy, NGO network interested in helping to build a stronger connection with business, addressing the double counting risks post-2020 and raising ambition on CORSIA, and communications efforts to influence key stakeholders,  and building the case for results-based finance mechanisms
    • Network is interested in sharing expertise/emerging technologies, piloting new methodologies/rules, innovation transfer, communications amplification, and technical reviews on GS projects.
    • Issue raised on the issuance of multiple certified impacts ("stacking" of assets) as this could reduce the value of them individually and lead to no net gain in new finance, which market players should consider as they decide what certification pathways and products to pursue.
  • Next steps

    • Gold Standard to consider how to include suggestions to the Network Platform to encourage and simplify participation from NGOs and maximise value delivered, and specifically to create and distribute communications materials to help sell/build demand of their GS certified projects and impacts
    • Consider convening a discussion on stacking of assets within single projects to assess potential implications and management of different claims by project participants.
  • Presentation

    NGO Strategy Session


    Bernardo Lazo, Gold Standard

  • Workshop summary

    This session focused on new opportunities to enhance the ability of projects that focus on poverty alleviation to attract finance. It explored ideas to highlight and enhance the narrative and claims for these projects through marketing and communication, labelling, new certification products and other ideas.
    Facilitated by Richard Illife, Manager Standards, Gold Standard, and Bernardo Lazo, Director of Partnerships and Business Development, Gold Standard:

    • Introduction and overview
    • Facilitated roundtable discussions to identify and evaluate ideas and opportunities
  • Key issues

    • The concept of a label to differentiate projects that target poverty alleviation was received with caution by participants, as the complexity, perceived risks or side-effects could overweigh the potential benefits.
    • A label would require a credible MRV approach to SDG 1, so it cannot be an ex-ante tag. Whatever the solution, MRV should be both rigourous and affordable.
  • Next steps

    • Gold Standard to consider how to include suggestions to the Network Platform to encourage and simplify participation from NGOs and maximise value delivered, and specifically to create and distribute communications materials to help sell/build demand of their GS certified projects and impacts
    • Consider convening a discussion on stacking of assets within single projects to assess potential implications and management of different claims by project participants.
  • Presentation

    Scaling Poverty-Alleviation and Development


    Richard Iliffe, Gold Standard

Corporate track

  • Workshop summary

    This session shared the key takeaways from two recent publications focused on redefining business leadership in sustainability. The first, Corporate Climate Leadership, is published with CDP and WWF and outlines four key pillars to an ambitious climate strategy. "Business + the SDGs: Best practices to seize opportunity and maximise credibility" was authored with WWF Switzerland to capture the opportunities, challenges and common pitfalls and best practices for the private sector engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals. These publications are geared toward gaining consensus on best practices and providing practical guidance and actionable solutions.

    Facilitated by Sarah Leugers, Director of Communications, Gold Standard:

    • Corporate Climate Leadership: An Overview
    • Defining a Climate Finance Commitment
    • Business + the SDGs: Best practices to seize opportunity and maximise credibility
    • Q&A
  • Key Issues

    Participants were asked to identify three key challenges to companies moving on the journey toward leadership and three possible solutions that Gold Standard and its partners could help support. Most participants focused on climate, as this was a more 'mature' issue that they are dedicated to, and from which insights and learnings might be applied to SDG strategies.

    • Challenge: "The pioneers take the arrows; the settlers take the land." That is, typically, leaders do the heavy lifting to forge new approaches, which can expose them to risks when the first attempt isn't perfect.
    • Solution: We need to find new ways to recognise first movers in leadership toward both climate and the SDGs. More civil society alignment on best practices can help. Greater standardisation can also help drive scale and move ambitious action from niche to mainstream.
    • Challenge: Specific to the "Finance the transition to zero-carbon resilient economy," companies can take only nominal action (ie, finance very few high-impact carbon credits) and use beyond-carbon impacts to greenwash their efforts. More transparency is needed.
    • Solution: More specific claims guidance could help – disclosure of volumes, standards, project types, etc. Though also noted that too much claims requirements can be a deterrent when companies already struggle with how to communicate about their 'finance beyond' contributions. Thus, clear, credible and compelling communications solutions widely recognised by the market and civil society can also support.
    • Challenge: Value and price of high-impact carbon credits are not aligned.
    • Solution: New ways to clearly communicate about value delivered, targeted for different stakeholders within a company in the language that they speak.
  • Next steps

    • Widely disseminate new Corporate Climate Stewardship guidelines, published by Gold Standard with CDP and WWF, and work to expand the ecosystem of civil society influencers who support or endorse the recommendations, including companies taking full accountability of their complete GHG footprint.
    • Consider the utility for translating these guidelines into a benchmark that companies can use as a self-assessment tool.
    • Convene carbon market and broader climate strategy influencers to align on claims and advocacy approaches, particularly in light of post-2020 market changes. 
  • Presentation

    Business Leadership on Climate + SDGs


    Sarah Leugers, Gold Standard

  • Workshop summary

    The Corporate Climate Leadership guidelines published by Gold Standard and CDP highlight 'Finance the global transition to a zero-carbon resilient economy.' Many companies have been using carbon markets to contribute much-needed finance to reduce emissions around the world through projects that also benefit local communities and ecosystems. This session will feature a range of innovative new projects as well as the launch of a new Ecosystem Marketplace report about how corporates include offsetting into their overall climate reduction strategies, who is buying offsets on the voluntary markets and why; and the market trends in 2017. 

    • Introduction by Bernardo Lazo, Director of Partnerships and Business Development, Gold Standard
    • Launch of Ecosystem Marketplace’s ‘Buyers Report’ - Kelley Hamrick, Senior Associate, Forest Trends' Ecosystem Marketplace
    • Innovative Gold Standard project profiles - Gold Standard project developers
    • Q&A – Facilitated by Claire Willers, Communications Manager, Gold Standard
  • Key insights

    • Nearly 2000 companies disclosed climate action to CDP in 2016. - nearly 50% set an absolute target, 23% put a price on carbon and 20% of these companies originate or purchase offsets.
    • Companies who offset are MORE likely to set an absolute target, set an internal price on carbon and reduce emissions internally compared to those who don't. This matches what was tracked in 2014 CDP data: Companies that offset are not “buying their way out of their obligations”. They are much more actively addressing climate change.
    • Companies reported investing $260.7 Billion in internal emissions reductions activities. Typically, in scope 1 activities, and a bit in scope 3 activities.
    • Offsetting companies spend 10x more on average on emissions reductions activities than the typical companies that don’t offset.
  • Presentations

  • Workshop summary

    Scope 3 (indirect) emissions often account for a major portion of a company’s climate impact. In fact, about 40% of the global GHG emissions are driven or influenced by companies' purchases or sold products, according to CDP data. Increasingly, companies are taking action to reduce these emissions and are seeking guidance on how to do so effectively. This interactive workshop reflected on emerging trends, including:

    • Challenges in addressing scope 3 emissions - Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Director, Science Based Targets and Renewable Energy Procurement, CDP
    • Presentation of framework and how the accounting will work – Owen Hewlett, Chief Technical Officer, Gold Standard
    • Data collection & supply change engagement: Experience from CDP’s Supply Chain Program – Kate Redington Associate Director Business Development, CDP Europe
    • Challenges and opportunities in managing value chain emissions –  Ashley Allen, Senior Manager, Climate and Land, Mars; and Eric Soubeiran, Global Nature and Climate Director, Danone

    Facilitated by Sandra Genee, Director Partnerships and Business Development

  • Key issues

    • Sustainable agriculture requires a systems-change and is a long-term process. One-time certification is not enough, it demands continuous improvement. Collaboration, co-creation and working together for a common understanding and framework, is necessary to find solutions.
    • Consumer facing companies face more pressure and can act as innovators, creating new forms of cooperation and effective financing structures to drive change and benefit all stakeholders in the food industry -  where farmers will ultimately be the key drivers of innovation. 
    • Soil provides a foundation, with tremendous potential to capture CO2, where direct investments can promote sustainable soil management practices.
    • Innovative practices including making use of satellite data can support more robust data collection, particularly in land use
    • Stakeholder engagement within value chain activities, while burdensome, can also lead to building good will and support that helps business.
  • Next steps

    • Gold Standard and Science Based Targets partners will issue a consultation on the Value Chain Accounting Methodological Framework in June 2018. We will convene a working group to enlist corporates to pilot this new framework via the Network Platform. We will also develop soil carbon guidelines to provide a means to measure the outcomes of soil management practices.
    • In parallel, we are working with the Science Based Targets partners to develop a Compendium of Best Practices and case studies to support companies in setting and achieving ambitious Scope 3 targets.
    • We will seek additional ways to recognise those businesses who are first movers in climate leadership.
  • Presentations

    Challenges in addressing scope 3 emissions


    Alberto Carillo, CDP

    Value Chain Emissions Accounting Framework


    Owen Hewlett, Gold Standard

    Data collection & supply change engagement


    Kate Redington, CDP

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