How carbon markets can move beyond offsets to achieve net zero

In this episode of the Sustainability Matters podcast, the speakers look at carbon as a commodity and examine how Microsoft is pioneering a new strategy focused on carbon removal.

As more businesses focus on net-zero targets, voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) need to play an increasingly crucial role. The VCMs are a necessary and important tool for offsetting hard-to-decarbonize emissions, and there is a vital need to scale them; however, there are many challenges in their current state. In this episode of the Sustainability Matters podcast, host Bruno Sarda and EY Sustainability Global Account Lead for Microsoft, Alissa Byersdorfer, join Brian Marrs, Senior Director for Energy and Carbon Removal at Microsoft, to examine the growth of VCMs and how they need to evolve.

Bruno sets the scene with a brief history of the VCMs and carbon as a commodity. He shares that VCMs are growing and are now a key component of many businesses’ decarbonization strategies but there are some significant challenges around credibility and quality. Alissa explains how the alliance between Microsoft and the global EY organization helps other businesses achieve their own decarbonization goals through sustainable strategies and data management solutions.

With a commitment to becoming carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft is a pioneer in this space. Brian discusses the challenges Microsoft has faced and how the VCMs need to evolve to focus more on quality carbon removal products. Brian covers why Microsoft’s strategy is solely focused on investing in carbon removal programs and how they have approached the challenges of the carbon market with their four north stars on quality.

Lastly, Brian shares some first-hand advice for companies exploring VCMs to achieve their net-zero goals.

Key takeaways:

  • The VCMs are a powerful and necessary tool to help businesses decarbonize but business currently have challenges around buying quality and credible credits.
  • Most Fortune 500 companies have net-zero targets that are predicated on using the VCMs.
  • Currently, most credits traded are avoidance, programs that reduce emissions, rather than remove them, but these increasingly face issues around quality.
  • The fast-growing sector of the VCMs is carbon removal, capturing and removing carbon from the atmosphere, but these make up only 3% of all VCMs credits issued.
  • A rigorous due diligence process is key when buying carbon credits through the VCMs.

You can also listen to this podcast on AppleSpotify

For your convenience, full text transcript of this podcast is also available.


Season 5, Episode 8


25m 2s