Compensate Foundations’s expert Eftimiya Salo moving to new challenges in technological CDR

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Last Friday was my last day at the Compensate Foundation. I am highly grateful for the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the global effort to improve the integrity of the voluntary carbon market.

At the very beginning, when I joined Compensate in 2020, I knew there were projects with dubious climate impact, questionable baselines, and harmful social and biodiversity effects. Yet I was unprepared for the alarming reality that over 90% of the projects I would evaluate would fit into this category.

The initial shock of this revelation was rapidly replaced by an unwavering determination to unveil these findings to market stakeholders, policymakers, and, most crucially, the numerous businesses, organizations, and individuals relying on carbon offsets to address climate change.

My personal goal was to instigate reform within the VCM. Almost four years later, I am ready to leave the nature-based field, knowing I've achieved my goal. The problems I discovered are now widely acknowledged by the stakeholders in the voluntary carbon market, and this is the first step in taking the necessary measures to reform the market and regain the trust of customers, climate experts, and investors.

Fortunately, I have not been alone in raising awareness of the need to reform the VCM. I had the privilege to work and collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations working towards a common goal. After I move forward, I am happy to see that the Compensate Foundation continues working to improve the market's integrity. 

The VCM needs an overhaul now to be fit to serve the long-term demand for high-quality carbon credits for meeting corporate net-zero targets. The market's future depends on how successful integrity initiatives and stakeholders within the VCM can tackle the current challenges.

I packed my knowledge on the VCM in the recently published white paper " From Crisis to Confidence Rethinking Integrity in the Voluntary Carbon Market ," my last gift to the VCM community before I embark on a new journey in the technological carbon dioxide removal field. 

Next steps

This week, I started work in  Carbonaide  - a new Finnish company specializing in carbon curing technology to sequester CO2 permanently into precast concrete. Carbonaide's technology originates from VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland. Carbonaide's technology can displace a significant amount of the raw materials used and even make the process carbon negative if using the side streams of other industries as binders, such as steel industry slags, green liquor dregs, and bio-ash. 

I am excited about my career shift towards technological carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and exploring this new field with great potential for decarbonizing the construction industry and contributing to climate change mitigation. I hope my work in the CDR space will be as impactful as my previous work in the nature-based field.

Future cooperation

To tackle climate change, we need a combination of different solutions, each with its strengths and weaknesses. I see nature-based solutions and technological CDR not as rivals but as complementing pieces in the big puzzle of mitigating climate change.

The focus of the Compensate Foundation so far has been solely on the nature-based markets as a tool for corporate climate action, including the different offset and non-offset claims. Having covered this topic extensively in the past four years, it feels like a natural step to expand the scope of the work of the Foundation towards the quickly evolving CDR market and regulatory environment in the future.

I would be excited to continue collaborating with the Compensate Foundation in the context of technological CDR. As technological removals are gaining momentum in the VCM, I see many collaboration opportunities in steering the market toward better transparency, integrity, and impact in the future. 

Text: Eftimiya Salo

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