Finding your purpose in Carbon Finance in South East Asia

Finding your purpose in Carbon Finance in South East Asia

In the world of carbon finance, where environmental sustainability meets financial viability, professionals like Vibol are leading the charge towards a greener future. We sat down with carbon expert, Nexus Technical Services Manager, Vibol to delve into his inspiring story and learn how he found purpose in the carbon market industry. 

Can you tell us about your background and how you found your way into the carbon finance sector? 

I have a master’s degree in Sustainable Energy, and my journey into the carbon finance sector began during my time as a Technical Manager for the National Biodigester Program (NBP). Working closely with a carbon technical expert, I gained valuable experience in registering the NBP project as a carbon projects. This experience, along with my academic pursuits, led me to join Nexus for Development (Nexus), where I could further explore the exciting world of carbon finance. 

What drew you to Nexus and the work they do? 

Nexus’s focus on clean energy and water projects, as well as its commitment to community development, resonated deeply with me. Coming from a small village myself, I understood the challenges faced by underserved communities without access to clean technologies. Nexus provided me with an opportunity to bridge this gap and make a positive impact on people’s lives while championing sustainable practices. 

Could you shed some light on the process of implementing carbon projects and the role Nexus plays? 

Nexus plays a crucial role in collaborating with project implementers to register projects on the voluntary carbon market. This process can take anywhere from one to two years. We work closely together, gathering the necessary data and documentation for the registration process. Trust and collaboration are key as we share confidential information to demonstrate the project’s viability and the need for carbon revenue.  

How does the carbon market evolve, and what skills are required to navigate its complexities? 

The carbon market is a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape. Professionals involved in project modelling require strong calculation skills, problem-solving abilities, and a solid scientific background, particularly in energy. As a project manager, it is crucial to establish a connection between spreadsheet models and project implementation on the field, ensuring accuracy and relevance by incorporating input from end-users. Staying up-to-date with the constantly changing regulations, methodologies, and compliance requirements is paramount to successfully registering carbon projects. I rely on resources like Gold Standard, VCMI, and Carbon Pulse to stay informed and maintain a comprehensive understanding of the latest developments in the industry. 

Can you highlight some projects that have made significant carbon reductions and positive impacts on communities? 

The first project that comes to my mind is ceramic water filters from Hydrologic. This project has a transformative impact by providing rural households, particularly women, with a sustainable solution for accessing clean water. By eliminating the need to boil water using wood, ceramic water filters significantly reduce carbon emissions and promote healthier living conditions. 

Several other projects have made a significant difference: 

  • Improved Cookstoves: High-efficiency cookstoves replace low-efficiency ones, reducing wood consumption and associated emissions. 
  • Biogas: By utilizing renewable energy from animal manure, biogas systems replace wood or LPG, resulting in substantial carbon reductions. 
  • Solar Water Pumps: Solar-powered pumps replace diesel-powered ones, eliminating the need for fossil fuels. 

What challenges do you face in the carbon market, and what opportunities do you foresee? 

The carbon market poses various challenges, including regulatory changes, evolving methodologies, and uncertainties in carbon credit pricing. For example, the price of certain carbon credits has ranged from below $5 up to $12-15 per credit a couple years ago, before dropping by 40% again last year. Despite these challenges, we support large-scale projects that have the potential to generate more than 60,000 credits per year and drive significant revenue streams that support project viability. While there are costs associated with registration, due diligence, and baseline surveys conducted by Nexus and certified third parties, the additional revenue for these projects can be significant. It can be utilized to reinvest in marketing efforts to reach last mile customers, purchase additional inventory, and explore other avenues, further amplifying their positive impact on communities and contributing to carbon emission reduction efforts. 

If you are interested in a job opportunity at Nexus for Development, please click here to see live roles.  

Original interview conducted by freelance recruitment consultant Antoine Denizart