Carbon market pioneer Corinne Boone of ACX provides a short history of the carbon markets (part 1)

Sally Duros

Sally Duros

Freelance Editor

Sally Duros’s first ESG-focused video interview for John Lothian News is a discussion with Corinne Boone, group head of Americas at AirCarbon Exchange, now known as ACX. We are publishing it in two parts. In this part one interview, Boone provides a short history of the carbon markets and why they work. 

Corinne Boone’s career in the carbon markets began with an environmental economics course she took as an undergraduate student that led to her earning a master’s in environmental studies, focusing on ways to monetize the environmental costs and benefits of different forms of power production. She says her educational background has provided a set of skills she has used throughout her career to create “win-win-win” solutions for her clients. “At the end of the day, it’s the business community in all of its various forms, whether they be emitters, financial industry, service providers.” she says, “They are the ones that have to actually undertake the massive amount of work required in order to get us to net zero.”

Boone’s first job was with an electric power utility, Ontario Hydro, where she looked at ways to integrate environmental considerations into power planning and then ultimately promote renewable energy power.  That was the starting point for a career as an environmental energy pioneer, including positions as a managing director with Cantor Fitzgerald and with Hatch, board chair for the Canadian Energy Research Institute, and directorships at several organizations. 

We discussed how the carbon markets have evolved. The processes used today to establish carbon credits are standard and are currently used by registries, she says. They establish the validity of carbon credits so that what is being purchased in the markets is real, quantifiable, verifiable, and of high quality and high integrity. Boone says these transactions have been over the counter, bilateral, negotiated between buyers and sellers, and they often take a long time to negotiate, sometimes months. The founders of AirCarbon Exchange understand both the financial and environmental markets, she says. A blockchain-based exchange promotes transparency, efficiency, liquidity, commoditization, speed, and trust in the market, which is why AirCarbon Exchange was created.  

To be successful, Boone says, a broker, an exchange operator, and a trader in the carbon markets must understand climate science.  They need to understand what’s happening on the technical side with the different types of projects and protocols to be able to transact in the market. They also must understand and keep informed on what’s happening in the country and internationally related to corporate commitments towards net zero. She says that working in the carbon markets is about being part of the movement focused on getting to net zero. 

Boone described the different types of carbon markets that are evolving, including voluntary and compliance. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol negotiated in 1997, clean development mechanisms were created. She says the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme under the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol is  significant. It’s the largest compliance system in the world and it’s an allowance-based system. She discussed other compliance-based schemes and how the buying and selling of carbon credits works.

New markets are now developing from the Paris Agreement as well as the Glasgow Accord. Aviation is an example of a voluntary corporate market. To some extent, voluntary markets will be used to help fill the gap between country commitments under the Paris Agreement and what’s necessary to get to net zero by 2050.

We discussed these questions with Corinne Boone: 

How did you get started in this business?

How did businesses respond to the idea of sustainability when you first got started?

What does the blockchain add to the carbon markets?

What do you need to know to be successful in these markets?

What are some of the different kinds of carbon markets?

 

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