Certifiers of carbon credits maintain the status quo by approving CRUs with different quality standards. Van de Ven acknowledged that there is not much incentive for certifiers to discard lower quality credits in their current portfolio in favour of quality improvement. This would deprive them of revenue, but more importantly, of their credibility. Hence, how can the market be segmented to make transparency key and create incentives to purchase higher-priced credits?
Van de Ven argues that the only way to achieve a change in the status quo is to differentiate the quality of carbon credits. Besides the addition of the credit type (reduction, removal, avoidance), the accounting taxonomy (ex-ante or ex-post) and the credit origin (renewable energy, nature-based, etc.), another essential factor for this segmentation would be the specification of the number of additional benefits provided by the carbon offsetting project. A hydropower plant, for example, does not contribute to any SDGs in addition to its carbon benefits compared to e.g. coal-based electricity. At the same time, ACORN is said to contribute to five SDGs.
Credits with low or zero additional benefits need not be banned from the market. Take cut-price chicken, for example. They are pumped up with antibiotics, such as avoparcin, that speed up their growth, and water that increases their weight. “Yes, it’s cheaper, and it’s in the supermarket so you can eat it, but you cannot find a [healthy] justification for buying it all the times [you go shopping]”. If we had a “cut-price credit” that companies and organizations could not justify buying it all the time, they will “die out on their own (no offence to chicken)”.