The Markit Registry has been put in place to provide transparency on the status of individual Woodland Carbon Code projects, and the ownership of the "carbon credits" that arise from those projects.
Below is a sample of page from the Registry, with explanations for the individual headings and acronyms. Before studying the diagram it is worth understanding the types of "credits" issued under the Woodland Carbon Code.
Types of carbon credits, and what they represent
When a new woodland is planted all of its carbon capture potential is in the future – i.e. it will only capture CO2 from the atmosphere as the trees grow. This means that, technically, there aren't really any carbon credits available until the trees have at least done some of that growing, because until that time no carbon has been captured. A typical woodland, because there are some emissions involved in its actual planting, may only begin to achieve overall carbon capture in its 10th year. The Woodland Carbon Code methodology allows us to not only estimate, with a high degree of confidence, the total carbon capture potential of woodland, it also allows us to estimate when it will occur. This means we have a picture at the start of a project of how many "carbon credits" it will achieve, and when.
Because of the nature of woodland creation with respect to carbon credits – i.e. the significant majority of the work and cost occurs long before any carbon capture – it is often necessary to sell the future carbon credits that a woodland will achieve at the time of planting. In order to track such sales transparently a special type of credit was created under the Woodland Carbon Code. This credit, called a Pending Issuance Unit (PIU), is a kind of promissory note – confirming that the buyer owns a given amount of the woodland's future carbon capture. Because we know at the start of the project how much carbon capture the woodland is likely to achieve, and when, then we can be sure to issue only the right number of PIUs. Over time, as the trees grow, the PIUs are converted in sequence to a different type of credit – a Woodland Carbon Unit (WCU) - representing the carbon actually captured by the trees. WCUs are the type of credit that can be formally 'retired' against an organisation's emissions. 'Retirement' simply means that the credits are cancelled so they cannot be used again.
The Woodland Carbon Code is young – launched in 2011 – and even the oldest projects certified under the code are less than 10 years old. This means that, for the time being, all of the credits issued are PIUs because none of the woodlands is old enough to have achieved measurable carbon capture. This does not mean that the woodlands are not healthy and on track to achieve the anticipated levels of carbon capture – and of course they are also already be4ginning to deliver other environmental benefits along the way.
For a business investing now PIUs are an important credit, as they demonstrate the scale of that business’ investment in woodland creation and future carbon capture, and confirm they are making good on their environmental commitments.