The Tropical Forest Group initially began discussing the need for The Carbon Institute in 2012, as it was preparing the groundwork for the first university accredited Certificate in Terrestrial Carbon Accounting
. This 2013 Certificate was accredited by the University of California and covered six courses, taught by global leaders, in an intensive hands-on, four-week long advanced certificate. For a limited number of 24 course openings, more than 150 applicants applied. Building on this success, in 2017 The Carbon Institute evolved into a concrete idea from a set of conversations that realized the growing international scientific consensus on climate change was not translating into action. To address this, The Carbon Institute was formed and designed to foster international cooperation and interdisciplinary work that identifies and solves critical roadblocks to climate change solutions. For instance, efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries is a novel framework (known as REDD+) that can reward countries that measure and reduce carbon emissions from the land use over large sub-national areas. But REDD+ is predicated on robust carbon accounting in the land use sector, and there are relatively few international academic programs that teach terrestrial carbon accounting in developing countries. So one of the initial Carbon Institute collaborations is to build an international partnership that can help nurture new sustainable in-country terrestrial carbon accounting academic programs.