V – Review of CarbonFix Standard

CarbonFix Standard

CarbonFix Standard was founded in 1999 and is operated by a non-profit association NGO based in Germany accredited by the UNFCC. Experts in forestry, development aid and the environment worked to provide the first standard in 2007. CarbonFix places itself as a VCS (because it delivers carbon credits) that also accounts for social and environmental impacts just as the CCBS (Merger, 2008).

The objective is to provide high quality carbon credits that not only reduce carbon emissions but also help local communities. Projects should be able to “tell a story” beyond carbon emissions (Carbon Positive, 2009b).

The analysis below has been assessed from information available at the CarbonFix website (CarbonFix, 2009b); CFS version 3.0 (CarbonFix, 2009a) and information provided by Moriz Vohrer from CarbonFix.

There is 1 certified project so far, 1 pre-validated and 15 in the pipeline.

Afforestation/ Reforestation        Score: 5

CarbonFix accepts Afforestation and Reforestation projects

REDD    Score: 1

CarbonFix does not accept REDD projects

Location        Score: 5

Projects can be originated all around the world. If a project is an Annex I country, CarbonFix will contact the DNA to avoid double counting.

Additionality        Score: 5

Project developers can demonstrate additionality through the CDM additionality methodology (CDM Executive Board) or project developers must pass the additionality test provided in the standard which is similar to the CDM tool (an improvement from the previous standard version). Additionality is assessed at the eligibility stage.

Methodology Approved       Score: 5

CarbonFix does not accept CDM methodology but accepts dual certification with CCBS or FSC. The only approved methodology is the one used by CarbonFix which has been simplified and is user friendly.

The baseline approach is that trees can only be planted in areas where forest has not existed for 10 years prior to the start of the project. Or, evidence that force majeure destroyed a forest and carbon finance is needed to replant the forest. Accepted evidence includes satellite images, aerial photographs, official maps or land-use records.

The methodology provides tools and detailed guidelines to several points:

–          Forest Management

–          Environment Aspects

–          Socioeconomic Aspects

–          CO2-fixation

–          Baseline

–          Leakage

–          Compensation Activities

–          Capacities

–          Land & CO2 Tenure

In addition, there are templates for every aspect of the methodology which makes it very easy to complete, with additional assisting and background documents.

This methodology has been built with the project developer and buyer in mind so that the language is easy to understand with a logical assessment that does not compromise quality in the delivery of a carbon credit. Videos are also available for project developers and brokers.

For these reasons, CarbonFix will receive 5 points.

Permanence          Score: 5

Several check points (management, financial, technical and protective capacity) are in place to make sure that the risk of non-permanence is reduced as much as possible. As there is always a small risk, any shortfall should be compensated by planting more trees or with other project activities within these projects or other CarbonFix projects. In case of total project failure, the CarbonFix buffer will be used. Every project needs to allocate 30% of the carbon reductions in a carbon pool.

Once again, this is a straightforward approach but still of high standard used by CarbonFix to compensate first, and only utilise the buffer if project failure occurs. This will give CarbonFix the highest score.

Leakage          Score: 5

Leakage is minimized as projects are not eligible if the land is a wetland, situated on permafrost ground or agricultural farming land and threatens the local production of staple food through its conversion to forest.

The remaining leakage is treated seriously, offering tools to calculate the amount of carbon for different kinds of leakages such as fuel wood use, agricultural farming, charcoal burning, resettlement, timber harvesting and livestock grazing. Agriculture or silvopasture are only accepted if they contribute to the creation of a forest.

Co-benefits         Score: 5

CarbonFix not only accounts for carbon reductions but also the co-benefits.

Some of the co-benefits accounted include: soil nutrients and erosion, water quality and quantity, biodiversity flora and fauna. CarbonFix also asks that evidence must be provided demonstrating how endangered species will be protected; a buffer zone of 15 metres around watercourses to be implemented; waste treated in an environmental way, and only minimal soil disturbance occurring.

Socio-economic aspects are also included. A project must create jobs, have building capacity and increase welfare activities to local communities. In addition, a project cannot displace people, or affect spiritual and socially important places.

Evidence must show that contracts for the management of the forest include specifications for the employee and the employer (working hours and leave absence, duties, salary, modalities on health insurance, modalities on the termination of the contract and modalities on the termination of the contract).

As per afforestation or reforestation projects, most of the co-benefits are accounted and emphasis is given to providing skills and minimising the impact on the environment, for these reasons CarbonFix will obtain the highest score.

Registry        Score: 5

CarbonFix has its own registry and delivers a unique certificate ID for the project, which can be split in CO2 codes. The code can be entered at the CarbonFix homepage and will be directed to the project’s page where all the information is available.

CarbonFix has now started to use TZ1 as a third party registry reducing the risk of double counting.

Transparency         Score: 5

CarbonFix provides the most user friendly website and full transparency of the projects from any other standard. The marketing tools provide an edge compared to other standards because companies are able to add a label to their products with the CO2 code. In doing this, the customer simply needs to go the website, enter the code and have access to all the information they need about the project including documentation, pictures, Google map locations and information on how to visit the project and an option for public consultation and comments during and once the project has been validated.

For these reasons, CarbonFix receives the highest score.

ICROA         Score: 1

ICROA does not accept CarbonFix credits.

US Market         Score: 2

Although CarbonFix has the potential to be widely accepted in the US market, it is not well known at the moment and its small number of projects makes it difficult to compete in the US market. CarbonFix will score 2.


CarbonFix scores 48. CarbonFix scores the highest on additionality, methodology, permanence, leakage and co-benefits. It is possible to see that the reason why CarbonFix does not score higher is because it scored low on the REDD, ICROA and US market criteria.

CarbonFix managed to transform a highly complex process into a simplified, user friendly standard and still guarantees high quality carbon credits. It is a standard that adapts itself as much as possible to the needs of the project developer, brokers and customers. CarbonFix offers a service that provides videos to explain how to use the website, methodologies and tools.

CarbonFix differs from VCS on permanence. While VCS calculates the most likely risk of non-permanence of each project, CarbonFix uses a fix buffer of 30%. Although some projects have a lower risk and others a higher risk of non-permanence, a fixed 30% buffer simplifies the project documentation, reducing costs and time. If three projects worth 100,000 carbon credits each allow 30% of the credits in the CarbonFix carbon pool, the pool will have 90,000 carbon credits in stand-by. If a project is completely destroyed, there will still be 20,000 carbon credits left in the pool (90,000 credits – (100,000 credits – 30% = 70,000 credits) = 20,000 credits). The more projects are validated, the larger the carbon pool is, thus reducing the risk that carbon credits destroyed are not replaced. CarbonFix ensures that the carbon pool is only used when extreme situations occur; otherwise the project developer needs to replace any carbon credit that has not been delivered.

For afforestation, reforestation and improved forest management projects, CarbonFix is highly recommended.

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