NUS launches new $1 million scenario-modelling facility to support regional nature-based carbon projects

Being a small country, Singapore is dependent on effective international cooperation for the success of its decarbonisation measures. Collaboration with other countries, such as on carbon markets, clean energy technologies, regional power grids, clean energy trade, and carbon storage opportunities will be essential to Singapore.

To support and accelerate regional cooperation on nature-based carbon projects across Southeast Asia, the University launched the NUS Decision Theatre on 30 November 2023 at COP28, the United Nations-led conference where world leaders meet to negotiate climate policy.

The NUS Decision Theatre is the brainchild of the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions (CNCS) and ST Engineering Geo-Insights. The S$1 million facility provides a platform for different stakeholders to meet and navigate the complex landscape of nature-based carbon projects together. Located within NUS’ Kent Ridge campus, the Decision Theatre builds on the Carbon Prospecting Dashboard which was announced at COP27 in 2022.

Recognising the challenges surrounding collaborative carbon projects in the region, the Theatre’s interactive platform will enable users to model outcomes from different scenarios depending on current or forecasted market or policy changes, which will facilitate the development of strategic collaborations across the 10 Southeast Asian countries. The cutting-edge scenario-modelling facility allows users to adjust various parameters, such as the type of carbon credit, participating countries, carbon price and project duration to calculate the mitigation potential and economic opportunity of protecting or restoring forests across the region.

The Theatre’s ability to generate on-the-fly calculations depending on the various scenarios is a game-changer for policymakers, investors, and carbon project developers, allowing them to visualise the outcome of various scenarios before a decision is made.  This allows the various parties to avoid taking a wait-and-see approach to protecting or restoring nature, and forge partnerships that could enable win-win strategies for people and planet. 

Professor Koh Lian Pin, Associate Vice President and Chief Sustainability Scientist at NUS, and Director of CNCS, said, “The NUS Decision Theatre will enable stakeholders…to come together to work through the different scenarios and trade-offs on how to protect nature in Southeast Asia to meet various goals... Having a platform to model the different scenarios will help to reduce the ambiguity involved in the decision-making process and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of cross-border carbon credit trading, while also creating new economic opportunities.”

Reducing ambiguity of carbon markets

In the establishment of nature-based carbon projects, uncertainty arises from a number of fronts. A key one stems from the national policies that affect the quantity of carbon credits that a country permits for international trading. Another source of uncertainty is the type of carbon credit that can be used to meet national climate targets under the Paris Agreement. For example, while carbon credits from non-threatened forests, or High Forest cover Low Deforestation (HFLD) regions, are currently not allowed for use to meet national climate pledges, there are ongoing discussions about whether they should be. 

The NUS Decision Theatre addresses all these uncertainties by mapping out three different carbon credit types – protection, restoration and High Forest cover Low Deforestation (HFLD) credits – and the share of each type of credit from the 10 countries. Leveraging the interactivity of the platform, users can adjust the proportion of nature-based carbon credits that each country allocates for international trade and make real-time rapid calculations of the amount of carbon credits available for trading. Taking this one step further, the Theatre can also help to narrow down locations to source compliant carbon credits, identify possible sites for establishing carbon projects and calculate their potential return on investment.

Read the press release here.