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Senken Due Diligence Whitepaper

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Senken’s core values are based on the promotion of integrity within the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM).

The rise of new standards, methodologies, technological developments, and general verification frameworks, however, makes it challenging to consistently maintain the highest quality when it comes to the emerging supply.

For this reason, we have diligently crafted our very own due diligence framework, that follows the best-in-class principles currently used in the VCM.

Before we begin, it's important to note that Senken offers valued Oxford-aligned carbon solutions as part of Net Zero and climate strategies and that a company should only utilise these solutions once it has diligently implemented the mitigation hierarchy, which primarily focuses on avoiding and reducing emissions, while gradually supporting offsetting solutions.

Our projects are carefully selected to comply with the Oxford Principles's net zero aligned offsetting trajectory, striving towards the gradual decrease of avoidance solutions in favour of long-term permanent Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR).

Graph for Oxford Principles Aligned Offsetting Portfolio

Our project assessment passes projects through a set of 3 layers that allow both project developers and investors to diligently evaluate the implementation state and maturity stage of a project.

The 3 Layers

  1. Our first step involves reviewing which ICROA-recognised standard and/or methodology a project has implemented.
    Examples of leading standards and methodologies include:
  2. Secondly, we review whether a project has been rated and with which score by trusted Rating partners, such as BeZero, Renoster, or Sylvera. Only projects that successfully achieve the highest outcome within rating agencies, such as a minimum BBB Rating on BeZero will be considered.
  3. Lastly, the project is assessed based on our own internal Senken Approval Assessment process, where we closely inspect the project & project developer’s characteristics:
    • Project Overview: Does the project provide additional net climate benefit? The project is assessed based on fundamental carbon project requirements, including additionality, permanence, and leakage.
    • Project & Developer Evaluation: Does the developer meet data, methodology, and background checks? This includes reviewing selected methodologies and data collection strategies. Digital Measurement and Verification (dMRV) is central to our project selection requirements. However, restricting the scope to only established methodologies may exclude potential high-quality carbon credits from consideration.
    • Quality Evaluation: What other areas does the project impact? This step reviews the project from the perspective of financial and social reliability, by reviewing the risk and co-benefit potentials that may arise from its implementation.

The Senken 3 Layered Framework For Due Diligence

how to evaluate quality of carbon credits

What does the Senken Approval Assessment require?

Project Overview

First of all, it is crucial to determine whether the project focuses on CO2 avoidance or removal and if it involves a Nature-based Solution(NbS), such as Afforestation, Reforestation, and Revegetation (ARR) projects, or a Technological-based Solution(TbS), such as Direct Air Capture (DAC) and Biochar.

Secondly, three fundamental prerequisite aspects are to be considered:

1. Additionality - the project must increase the amount of CO2 avoided or removed had the project not taken place. The latter is calculated by including baseline scenarios, which determine the emissions that would have been emitted if the project was not implemented. Once the baseline has been determined, the credits are calculated by subtracting the project emissions from the baseline emissions.

A baseline represents a "business as usual" scenario, which is used to estimate the expected emissions if a project were not implemented. Credits are issued based on the difference between the emissions from the project and the baseline, taking into account quantification uncertainties and leakage.

2. Permanence - the project must ensure that the project stores and avoids the agreed amount of CO2 permanently. Currently, permanence is measured in short and long-lived storage, depending on the nature of the carbon offset project.  However, a project’s permanence is subject to several climate-related risks. For this reason, each project should include a buffer pool.

A buffer pool is a specific amount of carbon credits that is stored and saved in case some carbon stocks are unexpectedly lost. It practically works as an insurance policy and prevents projects from selling a carbon credit for every unit of CO2 emissions removed or avoided in reality. Usually, the buffer pools are implemented by registries and can either contain buffer credits from all projects within the registry program in a single combined pool, often divided by project type or can be individually linked to specific projects.

3. Leakage - the project must not refer to emissions reductions that occur outside of the project boundaries due to project implementation. For this reason, the local jurisdiction of where the project is located needs to be considered to ensure that the project’s implementation might not affect CO2 emissions within the region.

Senken only accepts projects that satisfy the local ecology, geography, and jurisdictional requirements of the project’s region.

The size and location of the project need to be assessed to ensure that the quantity of credits issued by a project developer accurately corresponds to the actual amount of carbon avoided or removed by the project. Additionally, the project's national regulatory compliance must align with the latest developments in compliance and voluntary market dynamics, such as changes in government policies or carbon pricing mechanisms, and general political developments.

For Senken to confidently confirm the net climate benefit of a project, we calculate this impact by deducting the project's emissions and any associated leakage from the baseline scenario.As baselines are often inflated and leakage is often miscalculated, Senken also reviews the local jurisdiction to ensure consistency with similar regions and ecosystems.

How to determine the climate benefit of a carbon credit project

Project & Developer Evaluation

Once the project satisfies the preliminary requirements, the assessment follows by evaluating the predicted or implemented action through dMRV technologies (such as LiDAR, satellite or on-chain technologies) that allow for increased transparency and traceability. The selection of the methodology, verification body, and implementation stage enables the prediction of the project's expected impact and timeline.

The data derived from dMRV content will be of particular support regarding future marketing strategies, in which the supplier will be asked to provide potential media material on the implementation of the project.

After analysing the project’s disclosed information, the developer evaluation includes reviewing the legitimacy of the project’s funding support, ensuring that the project is not under any legal encumbrance to reduce emissions, examining the project developer’s past projects and future plans, and assessing available legal and financial documentation as well as third-party audit disclosures.

Quality Evaluation

Finally, to confidently select a carbon credit project as part of the climate strategy, the assessment should consider the credit's potential contribution to a company's sustainability and decarbonisation plan. This includes its alignment with Net Zero goals and co-benefits, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, biodiversity/ecological benefits, improved land stewardship, and the inclusion of indigenous communities.

Co-benefits can be measured by following the SDGs, the FPIC principles or hold active CCB or CCB Gold certifications issued by Verra.


With the progressive introduction of regulatory requirements, such as the CSRD, companies across sectors have to include credible and integral carbon offsets and increasingly comply with external audits as well as future regulations.

However, understanding how to select the highest quality carbon projects within a business’s climate strategy can be challenging due to the lack of clear assessment frameworks, transparent data, information asymmetries, and constantly changing scenarios.

For this reason, Senken’s due diligence framework is perceived as a living document that is constantly reviewed and updated to include the latest developments and project measurement metrics. This ensures that only projects that meet the highest quality and integrity standards are selected with our supply offering.

We also ensure to constantly review and update our framework with the latest developments in the space, such as the Integrated Council on the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM)’s Carbon Core Principles (CCP).

In conclusion, Senken has designed a strict due diligence assessment framework to effectively review projects, placing integrity and transparency at the very core of its selection process. Projects assessed are required to meet the severe data metrics as well as provide granular information - not only concerning the direct CO2 avoidance or absorption outcomes but also in regards to the indirect ecological and social benefits supported by the project.

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