Nori's six standards for credible carbon removal

Nori provides an alternative to existing carbon registries

Given that Nori is a new, innovative marketplace for organizations to purchase carbon removal “offsets” (or Nori Regenerative Tonnes), people often ask how Nori compares to existing carbon offset providers and registries.

To help clear up any confusion, the following information walks through the main components included in any credible carbon offset registry and discusses how Nori intentionally meets, exceeds, or diverges from the guiding principles of existing legacy markets.

To make this comparison, Nori uses the guiding principles set forward by ICROA’s best practices for carbon credits.

Note: Nori refers to ICROA's core criteria as a useful framework to discuss the various aspects of a credible carbon marketplace. The intention of this article is to illustrate Nori's unique position as we create and develop a new option in carbon markets. Nori is not currently endorsed by ICROA.

  • Real: Nori meets the standard definition of "real" carbon removal
  • Quantifiable: Nori meets the standard definition of "quantifiable" carbon removal
  • Permanence: Nori intentionally diverges from the standard permanence definition of 100 years, and instead guarantees 10 years
  • Additionality: Nori intentionally diverges from the standard definition of "additional" carbon removal
  • Verified: Nori meets the requirement of "verified" carbon removal
  • Unique: Nori exceeds the ICROA's standard definition of "unique" carbon credits

Nori’s innovative, transparent, and accessible marketplace improves upon the status-quo

Nori was established in 2017 and set out to create a dynamic marketplace for carbon removal. When assessing the broader carbon market landscape, Nori discovered that new carbon removal projects faced significant barriers to entry, which ultimately constrained the growth of quality carbon removal credits, offsets, and services.

Nori realized that the best chance to promote new and necessary carbon removal projects was to create an entirely new marketplace specifically focused on carbon removal. Since 2017, Nori has innovated upon existing carbon market registries and has created the most transparent and accessible carbon removal marketplace to date.

Nori believes that market power will fuel the advancement of the carbon removal industry as a whole. Nori plans to remain solution agnostic while developing methodologies that support science-backed, quantifiable, and real carbon removal services.

The six generally accepted standards when evaluating carbon credits

Most existing registries follow principles set forth by the International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance (ICROA). As a non-profit membership organization, the ICROA’s goal is to develop, apply, and advance best practices in voluntary climate action.

When it comes to the sourcing and use of carbon credits, the ICROA requires that market-based carbon credits represent carbon removals and offsets that are: real, measurable/quantifiable, permanent, additional, independently verified, and unique.

real carbon removals

Nori rewards carbon removal efforts that have genuinely taken place

Offsets and removals are considered “real” when such activities can be proven to have genuinely taken place.

Suppliers in Nori’s marketplace provide project information on their carbon removal practices. To ensure that a project’s carbon removal efforts have genuinely taken place, Nori requires that supplier project input data is independently verified by a third party.

In practice, regenerative farmers currently involved in Nori’s marketplace provide information on their land management practices, including any previous or current regenerative agriculture practices, from the past thirty years. Nori incorporates high levels of transparency into all of its operations and activities. Project supplier profiles and vital project information such as switch dates, Supplier practices, and more are easily accessible.


Projects in Nori’s marketplace must achieve measurable & quantifiable carbon removal

Offsets and removals must be quantifiable using accepted measurement methods while taking uncertainty and leakage into account.

In Nori’s marketplace, a third-party carbon quantification tool estimates how much incremental carbon removal has taken place after the Supplier switches to new, regenerative practices.

Currently, Nori partners with Soil Metrics to estimate the impact of a farmer’s regenerative practices on carbon removal. Soil Metrics has been licensed to make a version of COMET-Farm, called “GGIT”, available for commercial use. The estimates of soil organic carbon stock change (“SOCSC”) that currently inform Nori’s Regenerative Tonne issuance, rely on a US Department of Agriculture-sanctioned incremental soil organic carbon (SOC) stock and GHG emission estimation method. COMET-Farm is an IPCC Tier 3 carbon stock estimation method that was developed with federal government funding and the support of Colorado State University. The method informs the agriculture subsections of the Land Use Change and Forestry section of the official US GHG Inventory. Thus, Nori Regenerative Tonne issuance is consistent with the manner by which the US government reports GHGs and carbon stock changes in its national GHG inventory.

Additionally, Nori avoids a conflict of interest by using Soil Metrics’ estimates to generate an accurate Nori Regenerative Tonne inventory. Nori generates a highly conservative number of Regenerative Tonnes to each project based on information from this quantification phase.

As Nori develops additional methodologies, Nori will use the best available data to meet the peer-reviewed standards of that future methodology.


Nori guarantees, at minimum, ten years of permanent carbon removal

Within legacy carbon markets, addressing the issue of carbon permanence is a two-part process: removal and storage. The internationally accepted standard of “permanence” in carbon offsets is 100 years

Nori gauges carbon permanence based on methodology requirements

Nori strives to be upfront and honest with all of its stakeholders in its pursuit of a fair and equitable marketplace. After careful consideration, Nori concluded that the nature of soil solutions makes guaranteeing 100-year permanence for soil projects unrealistic.

In the pilot US Croplands Methodology, Nori understands asking farmers, who already operate on tight profit margins, to sign an unwieldy, multidecadal contract is unrealistic. Instead, farmers in Nori’s marketplace legally commit to making a sincere effort to retain the recovered carbon in soils and root systems for a minimum of ten years.

Nori determined that a ten-year contract was reasonable for projects for two primary reasons: 1) maintaining a fair and equitable marketplace is important, and 2) farmers are primarily interested in restoring their soil, making subsequent reversals in soil health unlikely.

Farmers who adopt regenerative practices are making a long-term investment in the future and the well-being of their land and soil. The startup and maintenance costs associated with that investment means farmers are not incentivized to revert to traditional practices at the end of the ten year contract.

Viewing Nori’s approach to permanence amidst the larger carbon market landscape

Nori understands buyers’ desire for a certain and livable future vis-a-vis permanent carbon removal. And because transparency is at the heart of its mission, Nori approaches permanence with the goal of avoiding over-promising and under-delivering.

Nori's Regenerative Tonne suppliers commit to a ten-year contract for storing carbon on their land, with re-verification every three years. The ten-year storage period is intentionally conservative — we aim to meet farmers where they’re at, allowing them to maintain autonomy while ensuring a realistic minimum storage period. Factors like land ownership and the human lifespan make it very difficult for farmers to commit to a 100+ year contract. That said, while not contractually required, we do expect growers to continue with practices after ten years and continue to sequester carbon for years to come. Transitioning to regenerative ag is a significant commitment and farmers generally do not revert to conventional practices because of the high commitment, the higher yields, and lower input costs.

Nori’s marketplace has safeguards to protect against reversals

Even though Nori intentionally diverges from the standard norm of permanence, Nori recognizes that carbon removal is only valuable if the carbon remains removed.

In the event that Nori overissues Regenerative Tonnes, a contract is broken, or a natural disaster releases captured carbon, Nori will buy back and retire the extra Regenerative Tonnes to make buyer purchases whole. Furthermore, Nori will continue to monitor projects after the end of the contract term, and publicly report any significant reversal in carbon retention as well as future mitigation strategies. (305)

For more details and information on how Nori addresses permanence, visit Nori’s how Nori achieves Regenerative Tonne permanence page.


Nori advances carbon removal by creating a diverse and accessible marketplace

Carbon removal is considered additional when both the project and the carbon removal would not have occurred without financial support from the market or registry.

Nori is focused on providing an equitable and accessible space to reward new and existing projects engaged in measurable and verified carbon removal. Within its marketplace, Nori defines “additional” as incremental and measurable changes in carbon removal year over year.

At Nori, financial success and providing environmental benefits are not mutually exclusive. Including financial additionality in the standard definition of “additional” supports a false dichotomy. Universally, everyone engaged in carbon removal services should have the opportunity to be paid fairly for their work. Requiring every carbon remover to prove that they could not financially do the work of carbon removal without project financing is harmful; this means carbon markets are limiting the incentives and growth of people to do the work of carbon removal and restore climate.

Markets are powerful forces. The more actors in a marketplace finding success, the quicker the rate of progress and advancement. Climate change won’t wait. Scaling viable solutions shouldn’t wait either.

third-party verification

Independent third parties verify Nori carbon removals to a reasonable level of assurance

Existing registries and carbon markets have universally agreed that carbon offsets and removals must be verified to a reasonable level of assurance by a reputable and independent third-party.

Nori works with the same reputable and independent third parties that are available in existing registries to review suppliers’ project input data. Nori can claim that projects in its marketplace engage in real and quantifiable carbon removal because independent verifiers ensure that the supplier data provided during the project’s creation is reasonable and correct.

Additionally, independent third parties also verify that a suppliers’ project is not listed in any other registries, thereby preventing double-counting in Nori’s marketplace. Finally, independent verification provides Nori further peace of mind by ensuring that suppliers have the legal rights to list the project.


Each Regenerative Tonne represents approximately one tonne of removed and stored CO2 — exceeding the ICROA's standard of "unique" carbon credits

The ICROA holds carbon markets accountable by mandating that no more than one carbon credit can be associated with a carbon reduction or removal of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

In Nori’s marketplace, each Regenerative Tonne represents approximately one tonne of CO2 removed and stored for a minimum of 10 years. Additionally, Nori is extremely transparent and explicit in its communication regarding the retirement of its carbon credits. Nori requires every buyer to report where the Regenerative Tonnes are retired on a state/province and national level. This way, Nori can appropriately account for the source and final retirement destination of every Regenerative Tonne. So, if Nori Regenerative Tonnes are supplied in the US, but bought and retired by a company in Finland, Nori can transparently report the export of carbon removal from the US and import to Finland which contributes to accurate Paris Agreement NDC accounting.

Nori's Regenerative Tonne inventory tracking, sales, and retirement information is publicly available on Ethereum’s blockchain and in Nori’s user-friendly online database.


All issued Nori Regenerative Tonnes represent measurable carbon removal that has already happened

In carbon markets, an “ex-ante” carbon credit represents carbon emissions that are going to be avoided in the future; while an “ex-post” carbon credit represents offsets or removals that have already been achieved.

The ICROA mandates that ex-ante carbon credits cannot be used to offset the carbon emissions of an organization.

Nori only sells ex-post Regenerative Tonnes that represent carbon removal and storage that has already happened. Nori does not give issuances of Regenerative Tonnes for carbon removal that have yet to take place. In the event that Nori discovers it has over-issued Regenerative Tonnes at the end of a ten-year term, Nori will buy back the excess Regenerative Tonnes and retire them from the market.

Nori adds another credible marketplace to the carbon removal industry, accelerating the path to a greener future

Nori takes the business of carbon removal seriously. Both buyers and suppliers need to trust the credibility of the carbon market in which they are participating. Whether Nori meets, exceeds, or intentionally diverges from existing standards, each decision is taken with great care and based on peer-reviewed, science-backed evidence.

Nori’s marketplace provides both buyers and suppliers with an equally rigorous alternative to existing carbon markets. Nori believes that providing an alternative to existing carbon markets will further the industry’s advancement. With time running out to solve the climate crisis, it is important that climate solutions are viewed through a lens of saying “yes, and” rather than “either, or.”