A carbon credit card allows individuals to make minor alterations to their purchasing habits by recording the carbon impact associated with their purchases. These individual adjustments, when combined, can lead to a significant impact on preserving the environment.
The concept of a carbon credit card is relatively new, but it is gaining momentum among individuals and businesses that are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
The carbon credit card works like a traditional bank credit card but is linked to a database of carbon emissions for different products and services. When a consumer makes a purchase, the card calculates the emissions associated with that purchase.
Lowering emissions is a process that cannot be accomplished quickly, and nature-based solutions are facing a financial gap of approximately $700 billion each year until 2030 to achieve their full potential in addressing climate and biodiversity.
Carbon credit cards can assist in closing this financial gap, as they enable organisations to offset emissions while also providing financial support to green initiatives around the world.
Climate Credit Card is the best in 2023
By calculating the carbon emissions associated with purchases, consumers would become more aware of their carbon footprint and the impact it has on the environment.
This also means it will help create a market for low-carbon products and services. According to the 8 Billion Trees, here are some of the best carbon credit cards for 2023 (Figure 1).
The Climate Credit Card is an award-winning card from a Swiss company that offers two different cards for businesses and private clients. It has a climate-carbon footprint calculator that monitors purchases and calculates the carbon emissions linked to it. The company offsets the climate impacts by investing in projects that support emission reduction, such as renewable energy projects. It offers a quick and easy application process but requires a good credit score for approval. The card is free of charge.
The Mastercard Carbon Credit Card allows users to earn reward points by making eligible purchases. These points can then be redeemed for merchandise, travel, or cash back. Much like the Climate credit card, the application process is quick and straightforward, requiring a good credit score for approval, and there are no annual fees.
The Aspiration credit card provides several credit card options, each with distinct advantages. The Aspiration Summit card grants cash back on all purchases, regardless of where they are made. The Aspiration Zero credit card provides a $300 welcome bonus, and a 5% cashback on all purchases when cardholders achieve a zero carbon footprint through their spending. While the application process is straightforward, it requires a high credit score. Additionally, the card has an annual fee of approximately $60 and a foreign transaction fee.
The Mastercard Doconomy card provides security features to prevent fraud and extended warranty protection. Users can benefit from saving money on interest charges and receiving a 1% cashback on all purchases. Although the card necessitates a high credit score, it appeals to individuals who want to avoid annual fees.
Do Black credit card is produced from bio-sourced materials and printed using air ink. The card grants cashback on all purchases, including a bonus for spending in specific categories. It also provides a 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, as well as a $200 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the initial three months from account opening. Although the card does not have an annual fee, it has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
The American Express Green Card provides a rewards program where cardholders can earn points for eligible purchases. Buyers can redeem these points for cash, gift cards, or travel. The card offers a 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases. It mandates a high credit score and has an annual fee of roughly $150.
Challenges of carbon credit card
Accuracy: Any calculation of carbon emissions related to purchases would require a comprehensive and up-to-date database of carbon emissions for various products and services. In many cases, the calculation is done with assumption.
Limited reference data: With the lack of reference pricing data creates difficulties for both buyers and suppliers working on carbon-reduction projects, buyers are unsure if they are paying a fair price, while suppliers are uncertain about how much buyers will ultimately pay for carbon credits.
Misuse of carbon credits: Organizations might just purchase carbon credits instead of reducing their emissions. A notable case is Shell’s plan to buy 120 million mtCO2e of carbon credits by 2030. While emission reduction targets should remain a top priority, buying carbon credits can be part of a more comprehensive climate action plan.
Greenwashing: Some projects in the voluntary carbon market fail to meet the proposed requirements outlined in the Core Carbon Principles by the ICVCM. To purchase high-quality carbon credits, companies should seek third-party ratings that increase transparency, verification and trust in the complex voluntary carbon market.
The demand for carbon credit cards is increasing
As climate change becomes an increasingly pressing issue, more and more companies are committing to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Figure 2 shows the number of certificates to be considered for carbon credit programmes, sold by Verra through the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The total number of certificates sold increased by more than 1050% by 2021, compared to 2015.
According to Mckinsey & Company, the demand for carbon credits could increase up to 15 times by 2030 and 100 times by 2050, creating a market worth over $50 billion in 2030. Given the anticipated demand for carbon credits resulting from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a large, transparent, verifiable, and environmentally sound voluntary carbon market will be essential.
Meet your climate change goals with carbon credit
To reach the 1.5°C target, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by 50% of current levels by 2030 and reduced to net zero by 2050. In 2020 more than 1000 companies pledged a net zero target, more than double from 2019.
By utilizing sustainability management solutions, companies can effectively monitor, analyse and report their carbon emissions and waste management data throughout their entire business ecosystem, including their value chain, resulting in reduced costs and emissions.
Although significant cuts in emissions have been made, there will still be some residual emissions that persist for years to come. Organizations need to find ways to offset these remaining emissions by investing in top-quality carbon removal methods. For this, purchasing carbon credit certificates is one viable option.
McKinsey & Company estimates the annual global demand for carbon credits could reach up to 1.5 to 2.0 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2030 (Figure 3). Depending on scenarios, the market size could be between $5 billion-$30 billion at the low end and more than $50 billion at the high end during this time.
Purchasing carbon credits voluntarily not only helps to offset emissions, but also has additional benefits, such as protecting biodiversity, preventing pollution, improving public health, and creating jobs.
A carbon credit card tracks the purchasing habits of the holders and the carbon footprint associated with those purchases
The cards face the challenges of accuracy, verification and greenwashing
The Climate Credit Card is the best carbon credit card in 2023
Carbon credits could create a market worth over $50 billion in 2030