Gold Standard Study Reports Billions in Environmental and Social Benefits

In the first study of its kind ever done, projects developed to combat climate change that are certified under the prestigious Gold Standard label have been found to deliver additional environmental and socio-economic benefits beyond carbon worth billions of (US equivalent) dollars over the crediting period of the projects.

Economists captured and monetised the environmental and socio-economic net benefits of 109 Gold Standard wind, cookstove, water filter, bio-digester and afforestation/reforestation projects.

They found that the cookstove projects assessed deliver 84-million dollars in health benefits per year, or almost 630-million dollars over the crediting period of these projects. Households also save an estimated 143-million dollars annually on coal or firewood purchases or equivalent collection time, which adds up to one billion dollars in livelihood benefits over the crediting period of the projects. This is in addition to 4-million dollars of yearly employment benefits, which have been conservatively calculated without taking into account any economic flow-on impacts.

Gold Standard wind projects are saving host countries about 100 million dollars a year in their Balance of Payments, due to savings in fossil fuel imports. This amounts to almost 700-million dollars across The Gold Standard’s 54 wind projects over a seven year crediting period. Wind projects are also estimated to be worth almost 12 million dollars in employment annually.

The study also found that as an impact investment, Gold Standard credits deliver enormous value to buyers. It calculated Gold Standard cookstove credits each carry a value, in addition to a tonne of carbon reduction, of 96 dollars in health benefits and 55 in livelihood benefits, whilst an afforestation/reforestation credit delivers 150 dollars in eco-system services and 27 dollars in employment in local communities.

“Monetising project results is not just about the numbers,” says The Gold Standard CEO Adrian Rimmer. “By being able to value critical outcomes, like improvements in health and employment, carbon credit buyers, funders and policy makers can better understand the big picture of what carbon finance can do when it’s implemented through the rigorous framework and auditing requirements of The Gold Standard.”

Using well recognised market and non-market valuation techniques, this assessment has been conservative, calculating value for only those benefits that are monitored, reported and verified within project documentation, and is designed to be iteratively updated as more data becomes available.

The methodologies applied, including economic benefit transfer and financial “proxies” to represent intangible outcomes, are widely used and incorporated in recent initiatives such as The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).

“The study focused on 109 Gold Standard projects that have been issued with carbon credits, representing about 15% of the overall Gold Standard pipeline with close to 1000 projects.  This was deliberate because we wanted to ensure projects had completed their full life cycle.  Despite this initial focus, it is highly likely the additional 800 projects in the Gold Standard pipeline would present similar benefits, valuing The Gold Standard’s impact far higher”, said Neil Salisbury, Director of sustainability consultancy Net Balance.

For further information please contact:

Tanya Petersen
Director of Communications, The Gold Standard Foundation, Geneva
Tel. +41 79 912 2447

For ten years, The Gold Standard has pioneered the way climate change is addressed. Its ‘results based finance’ approach – in which individuals, corporations and governments buy credits against verified emission reductions and sustainable development outcomes – has channelled more billions of euros into 1000 low carbon development projects. The Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and has more than 80 NGO partners worldwide.