(Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd. is rejecting almost all proposed carbon offset projects because they fall below the firm's standards, a bank official said at the Asia Climate Summit in Singapore.
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The Australian bank has reviewed 110 projects since February, and "probably like 90% of them are out," Suraj Vanniarachchy, a vice president at the lender, said Thursday. That's due to "missing elements" related to the quality, permanence, and economics of the projects, he said.
Macquarie has encountered instances of "the same land, same projects claimed by different project developers" Vanniarachchy said, with local communities having been left in the dark: "I think people are trying to bake the cake with very bad ingredients and put a nice icing."
Demand for offsets could grow 40-fold between now and 2050, to 5.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent, which is equal to 10% of global emissions, according to BloombergNEF. Prices could reach $120 per ton in 2050. Banks are opening carbon trading desks, joining commodities giants such as Trafigura Group and Glencore Plc.
Read more: Net-Zero Pledges Are Best Hope to Revive Carbon Offsets Slump
Macquarie is angling for a slice of this market. The bank expanded its global carbon team this April, adding four hires including Vanniarachchy to find and fund new projects, from cookstove initiatives to carbon capture technologies. Though the team is adding to its pipeline, its approach to development is not "very aggressive," Vanniarachchy said.
"We are not saying we want to develop 1,000 projects," he said. "We probably do one or two good ones."
The Australian bank isn't the only institution challenged by the limited number of quality offset projects. Malaysia's stock exchange, which is launching its own voluntary carbon platform, has voiced similar concerns. There is also regulatory risk, as governments from India to Indonesia look to limit export of carbon credits.
The fear is that "the current government is saying sure let's do a carbon project, and sign up," Vanniarachchy said. "But then five years down the line, it's changed."
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