" Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) refers to the multi-step process to measure the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced by a specific mitigation activity, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, over a period of time and report these findings to an accredited third party. The third party then verifies the report so that the results can be certified and carbon credits can be issued.
"MRV seeks to prove that an activity has actually avoided or removed harmful GHG emissions so that actions can be converted into credits with monetary value. One credit equals one ton of reduced GHG emissions expressed in tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2eq). These credits are the results that the World Bank pays for through specific results-based climate finance arrangements, like Emissions Reduction Payment Agreements (ERPAs). They are also the basic units traded in international carbon markets and used to fulfill countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. MRV is the key to unlocking climate finance and showing progress on climate goals.
“Paying for carbon credits can stimulate climate action and ambition - and through the World Bank’s inclusive ERPA programs, benefit sharing plans ensure the funds get to the local communities who need them most. But MRV requires careful measurement, reporting, and verification to ensure results are real before payments are made. MRV systems are complex and require multiple steps to get from emissions reduced on the ground to payments received in hand.”
– WorldBank Climate Explainer: MRV
In MRV, the effects of a project are Measured, Reported, and then Verified by a third party to ensure that the project is accurately quantifying and reporting the impact of its removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
MRV seeks to prove that an activity has actually removed GHG emissions so that the effects can be converted into credits with monetary value. These credits can be exchanged in a variety of markets and financing schemes. MRV provides an empirical foundation to justify CDR financing.
MRV can be undertaken in several steps:
- Baseline measurement: The project would first establish a baseline measurement of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere before any CDR activities are initiated. This baseline measurement serves as a reference point for determining the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere through the project.
When pursuing carbon financing, having a baseline measurement is necessary for proving additionality. Additionality is the concept that carbon financing is causal to the carbon removal. Put differently, proving additionality means demonstrating that the carbon removal would not have happened without the financing, e.g. the sale of carbon credits. The baseline measurement represents the “business-as-usual” case, i.e., what would happen in the absence of the CDR project, against which the results project can be compared.
- Monitoring and data collection: The project would need to monitor and collect data on various aspects of its CDR activities, including the type of technology used, any associated emissions, and of course, the amount of CO2 removed. The tools and techniques used for monitoring will vary depending on the type of CDR project. Employing an environmental assessment practitioner with experience in carbon accounting is helpful for ensuring that the measurement step is methodologically compliant.
Verra (formerly the Verified Carbon Standard, or VCS) performs verification of carbon offset projects that includes CDR and publishes methodologies for MRV on various types of projects.
Alternately, ISO 14064-2 is used to quantify the amount of GHG emissions reductions or removal enhancements.
- Reporting: The project would need to report the data it collects on its CDR activities to various stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and the public. Though standardized reporting frameworks exist as part of MRV methodologies, reporting can also be done easily by maintaining a public ledger or issuing periodical reports.
ISO 14064-3 functions to verify reports developed using 14064-2 and other project-level GHG quantification.
- Verification: Undergoing independent verification by a third-party auditor ensures that the reported data is accurate and meets the standards set by the reporting framework. This verification process typically involves a review of the project’s data, monitoring systems, and reporting procedures.
Overall, the MRV process is critical for ensuring that a CDR project is successful at its goal of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as providing stakeholders with confidence that its reported data is reliable and can be used to support climate action initiatives.
______________by Steven MacMaster
ISO on standards to be used for carbon removals
Climate Bonds Initiative: Mobilizes the bond market for climate change solutions and provides guidance on how to assess and verify the climate benefits of bond-funded projects, including CDR projects.
The American Carbon Registry (ACR): Operates a voluntary carbon offset program in the United States and provides guidance on how to measure, report, and verify carbon offsets.
https://isometric.com/ - “a carbon removal registry, verification and science platform”
Considerations of diversifying CDR pathways, and consequences for MRV: Leveling the Playing Field for Open-System Carbon Removal
CDR Verification Framework – CarbonPlan - Verification Confidence Levels
MRV 101 - World Resource Institute
European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) - CDR regulation: The EU ETS is a carbon trading scheme that covers more than 40% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. The EU is currently developing a new regulation for CDR projects that will be included in the EU ETS. The new regulation is expected to require CDR projects to meet certain MRV requirements to be eligible for the carbon market.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) - CDR protocol: CARB is responsible for implementing California’s cap-and-trade program, which is one of the largest carbon trading schemes in the world. CARB is currently developing a new protocol for CDR projects that will be included in the cap-and-trade program. The new protocol is expected to include MRV requirements for CDR projects to be eligible for the carbon market.
Climate Infrastructure Act: In the United States, the Climate Infrastructure Act was introduced in 2021 and includes provisions for a federal carbon offset program. The legislation requires that CDR projects meet certain MRV requirements to be eligible for the program.
Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA): CORSIA is a global carbon offsetting scheme for the aviation sector. The scheme requires airlines to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from approved projects, including CDR projects. The CORSIA MRV requirements are currently being developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).