New ‘rulebook’ launched for corporate carbon credit purchases

The Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has launched its Claims Code of Practice, acting as a rulebook for companies to follow when making climate-based claims and how carbon credits can be utilised to support decarbonisation.

New ‘rulebook’ launched for corporate carbon credit purchases

The VCMII argues that the Claims Code can bring integrity to the demand-side of these markets

The VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice was published on Wednesday (28 June) in an attempt to clarify the ever-shifting and continuously complex landscape of the voluntary carbon markets. The Code acts as a rulebook for voluntary carbon credit use and how they fit in on the road to net-zero.

“Voluntary carbon markets bring considerable benefits as part of companies’ net zero transition and as a means of financing climate transition worldwide,” VCMI’s Steering Committee co-chair, Rachel Kyte, said.

“Against a backdrop of recent criticism, we are now at a juncture where only consistent, well-considered global guidance can underpin a high-quality market and stimulate the rapid scaling of corporate use we need. The Claims Code will give greater confidence and develop trust in those who use it. If you build integrity, trust will follow, and trust is the foundation of a high value, high impact market.”

Kyte previously spoke to edie on the imbalance between “well-intentioned companies” that want to work with “integrity” who are still reluctant to participate in the market due to concerns over greenwashing or the quality of the credits on offer.

These issues have given a lot of media attention to “junk” credits. Indeed, edie has its own feature on the issue here.

The VCMI argues that the Claims Code can bring integrity to the demand side of these markets. The Code has three tiers for companies to access – Platinum, Gold and Silver. Each tier recognises investments that contribute to emissions reductions and removals that are beyond corporate actions to meet science-based targets.

The VCMI has worked with the likes of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP); Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi); the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM); and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to create a robust rulebook.

The Claims Code consists of four steps that a company must undertake to make a VCMI Claim. Firstly, it must meet “Foundational Criteria” that outline what a climate strategy should look like, at this point the company can then select which tier of the Claim it would like to access.

To make a claim, a company must select carbon credits that meet stringent quality thresholds in line with the ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles. The two organisations last week unveiled a joint commitment to boost confidence in the market.

Finally, the company must disclose information and conduct independent validation and assurance in line with VCMI frameworks, which will be published in November this year.

Commenting on the announcement, Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 said: “This is a decisive decade and a decisive year for tackling climate change. We are woefully off track from where we need to be and we need to use all the tools in the box, working at full pace.

“The voluntary carbon market is one tool that can mobilize the much-needed finance to low and middle-income countries towards climate solutions that will accelerate the net zero transition. It’s not too late to drive progress, and the VCMI Claims Code released today is a welcome step forward.”

edie Explains: Carbon offsetting

Climate action is urgently needed and current global actions are far from sufficient for achieving 1.5C. It’s clear we must use every tool available to us to ensure we limit global temperature rises. The Voluntary Carbon Market offers a credible, proven way to drastically scale up the needed climate action – but only if corporations are empowered to make claims that earn them credit for their actions.

This free-to-download edie Explains guide, produced in association with the South Pole Group helps sustainability professionals understand and navigate the growing market of carbon offsets.

From exploring the different types of offsetting and how they work to outlining the benefits and controversies surrounding them, this guide outlines how offsets can be utilised as part of a carbon business strategy that focuses on reductions first and foremost.

Click here to download the guide.

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