Impact - Tradewater

Why This Work Matters Now

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that we must limit global warming to no more than 1.5o C above pre-industrial times to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Non-CO2 gases account for nearly half of all global warming from human activity since 1970. Once non-CO2 gases are released into the atmosphere, they quickly do their damage and cannot be removed through nature-based solutions or other technologies. This is why every scenario for achieving the 1.5o C target requires an immediate reduction of non-CO2 gases.

Stopping the release of these gases buys more time for longer-term strategies focused on CO2 reductions and removals to be developed, adopted, and implemented globally.

GHG Contributions to Warming Since 1750

Contributions to warming since 1750 from carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), black carbon (BC), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), adapted from Dreyfus, et al.2

Our Focus on Halocarbons and Methane

Tradewater is focused of two categories of non-CO2 gases: halocarbons and methane.

  • We find, collect, and destroy halocarbons from equipment and stockpiles all over the world.
  • We permanently stop methane emissions by locating and plugging leaking and uncontrolled orphaned oil and gas wells.
By focusing on these two potent non-CO2 gases, Tradewater will prevent the equivalent of millions of tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Halocarbons

Halocarbons include refrigerants and halons. Some of these gases are ozone-depleting substances. The global warming potential of ozone-depleting gases is up to 10,200 times that of CO2.

The Montreal Protocol has placed bans or phase out targets on the manufacture of all these halocarbon gases. While the bans have been effective in stopping new production of halocarbons, there are large volumes that have already been produced and distributed and are at risk of being released into the atmosphere. Finding and destroying remaining stocks of ozone-depleting gases will also help maintain the ability of natural systems to sequester carbon.

Tradewater’s work to collect and destroy the remaining halocarbons that were made before the Montreal Protocol production bans went into effect is an essential step in the fight against climate change.

Methane

Methane has a global warming potential of 84 times that of CO2 over 20 years and is responsible for at least 25% of the global warming we’re experiencing today. It’s also a short-lived climate pollutant, doing the most damage in the first years following its release into the atmosphere. The IPCC recognizes the reduction of methane emissions as the most effective immediate strategy for slowing down warming.

According to the Global Methane Assessment, a 40% reduction in global methane emissions over the next 10 years could prevent 0.3o C of additional warming by 2040.

In the U.S. alone, the EPA estimates that there are over 3 million abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells. Tradewater is finding these wells, measuring their methane emissions, and permanently plugging them to stop current leaks and prevent future releases of methane from these sources.

8

Halocarbons

Halocarbons include refrigerants and halons. Some of these gases are ozone-depleting substances. The global warming potential of ozone-depleting gases is up to 10,200 times that of CO2.

The Montreal Protocol has placed bans or phase out targets on the manufacture of all these halocarbon gases. While the bans have been effective in stopping new production of halocarbons, there are large volumes that have already been produced and distributed and are at risk of being released into the atmosphere. Finding and destroying remaining stocks of ozone-depleting gases will also help maintain the ability of natural systems to sequester carbon.

Tradewater’s work to collect and destroy the remaining halocarbons that were made before the Montreal Protocol production bans went into effect is an essential step in the fight against climate change.

Icons (5)

Methane

Methane has a global warming potential of 84 times that of CO2 over 20 years and is responsible for at least 25% of the global warming we’re experiencing today. It’s also a short-lived climate pollutant, doing the most damage in the first years following its release into the atmosphere. The IPCC recognizes the reduction of methane emissions as the most effective immediate strategy for slowing down warming.

According to the Global Methane Assessment, a 40% reduction in global methane emissions over the next 10 years could prevent .3o C of additional warming by 2040.

In the U.S. alone, the EPA estimates that there are over 3 million abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells. Tradewater is finding these wells, measuring their methane emissions, and permanently plugging them to stop current leaks and prevent future releases of methane from these sources.

Tradewater has collected, controlled, and destroyed halocarbons and methane equivalent to more than 6 million metric tons of CO2. The magnitude of this impact is often difficult to grasp, but it is equivalent to planting nearly 100 million trees or preventing more than 6.7 billion pounds of coal from being burned.

We are dedicated to increasing our impact by preventing at least 22 million tons of CO2 equivalent from being released into the atmosphere through 2027.

This work matters now because it has a massive, permanent impact, and it gives us a fighting chance to save our planet.

Our Impact

Permanent impact equal to 7.5 M tons of CO2

More than 1.7 million pounds of CFCs destroyed to date

Each CFC molecule destroyed saves 100,000 ozone molecules

77 projects credited by the American Carbon Registry

2 projects credited by VERRA

59 projects credited by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)

Projects developed on three continents

money-icon.png

Over $40 million invested in communities

A total of 136 verifications completed

Permanence

Emission reductions are considered permanent if they are not reversible. In some projects, such as forestry or soil preservation, carbon offset credits are issued based upon the volume of CO2 that will be sequestered over future decades—but human actions and natural processes such as forest fires, disease, and soil tillage can disrupt those projects. When that happens, the emission reductions claimed by the project are reversed.

The destruction of halocarbon does not carry this risk. All destruction activities in Tradewater’s projects are conducted pursuant to the Montreal Protocol , which requires “a destruction process” that “results in the permanent transformation, or decomposition of all or a significant portion of such substances.” Specifically, the destruction facilities Tradewater uses must meet or exceed the recommendations of the UN Technology & Economic Assessment Panel , which approves certain technologies to destroy halocarbons, including the requirement that the technology achieve a 99.99% or higher “destruction and removal efficiency.” Simply put, this means that Tradewater’s technologies ensure that over 99.99% of the chemicals are permanently destroyed. During the destruction process, a continuous emission monitoring system is used to ensure full destruction of the ODS collected.

Accuracy

Some carbon offset projects necessarily rely on estimations or assumptions when calculating the emission reductions from project activities. Forestry projects, where developers make assumptions about the carbon that will be sequestered over future decades if trees are conserved, are a perfect example. Such projects sometimes result in an overestimation of the environmental benefit of the project.

Tradewater’s halocarbon projects avoid the issue of overestimation by consistently conducting extremely precise testing and measurement of the amount of refrigerant destroyed in each project.

  • Every container of ODS that Tradewater destroys is weighed by a third-party using regularly calibrated scales. The ODS is then sampled by a third-party and analyzed by an accredited refrigerant laboratory to determine its species and purity. These two steps combine to ensure that credits are issued only for the precise volume and type of refrigerant destroyed.
  • The destruction facilities that Tradewater uses continuously monitor the incineration process during destruction events to ensure that over 99.99% of the ODS is destroyed. This monitoring is mandated by regulatory protocols and is part of the verification process to which projects are subjected.
  • Tradewater accounts for the project emissions created during the collection, transport, and destruction of ODS, and the number of offsets issued is reduced by a corresponding amount. The protocols that we use also build in other reductions to account for substitute chemicals that will be used to replace the destroyed refrigerants. Tradewater publishes this information in the documentation for all its ODS destruction projects. These documents outline how the material was obtained, the project emissions calculations, the test results, and the amount and type of ODS chemicals destroyed, among other information.
  • Additionality

    It is a basic requirement of all carbon offset projects that the underlying project activities are additional. “Additional” means that the projects would not happen in the absence of a carbon market. Tradewater’s halocarbon projects simply would not happen – and the gases would be left to escape into the atmosphere – without the sale of the resulting carbon offset credits. This is because there is no mandate to collect and destroy these gases. It is still permissible to buy, sell, and use halocarbons that were produced before the ban. There are other reasons halocarbon destruction projects are additional:

    • There are no incentives or financial mechanisms to encourage halocarbon destruction. According to the International Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program, “there is rarely funding nor incentive” to recover and destroy ozone depleting substances in storage tanks and discarded equipment. And collecting, transporting, and destroying halocarbons is time-intensive and expensive. The burden to collect and destroy these gases therefore remains prohibitive outside of carbon offset markets—meaning that if organizations like Tradewater do not do this work, nobody else will.
    • Countries are not focused on the need to collect and destroy halocarbons. The Montreal Protocol has been celebrated as a success because of its production ban. This success, however, ignores the legacy gases produced before the ban and is a blind spot for government regulators. In the U.S., for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a Vintaging Model in the 1990s to estimate the quantify of ozone depleting substances left in circulation. Based on the inputs and assumptions put into the model, the EPA predicted that no CFCs would be available for recovery beyond 2020 in the United States. But this prediction did not prove accurate. Tradewater has collected and destroyed more than 1.5 million pounds of CFCs globally in recent years and continues to identify thousands of pounds per week.
    • International carbon accounting standards do not require corporations to measure or track emissions tied to halocarbons, and refrigerants are specifically excluded from Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitments. These commitments derive from emissions reporting under the GHG Protocol, which requires companies to report on emissions only from new generation refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), but does not establish any obligation to report inventories or emissions of refrigerants still in use, such as CFCs and HCFCs. All these factors combine to make Tradewater’s carbon offset projects highly additional. As Giving Green, an initiative of IDinsight, concluded: “Tradewater would not exist without the offset market, so this element of additionality is clearly achieved.” The case for additionality is not so clear for some other project types, such as forestry and landfill gas carbon projects. For example, some forests are already being conserved for their beauty, or for use as parks, and generate carbon offset credits only because those conservation efforts do not yet have full formal protection in place to avoid deforestation in the future. Similarly, methane from landfills can be used to make electricity or captured as compressed natural gas, thereby creating additional revenue streams to support the activities, beyond the sale of carbon credits.