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New code of practice launched to restore confidence in VCMs

Air pollution from factory chimney
Carbon markets have been beset with claims of greenwashing (Photo: Manfredxy/Envato)

The legitimacy of some voluntary carbon markets has been called into question, but the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative hopes its new claims code of practice can change the narrative.

Voluntary carbon markets offer carbon emitters an opportunity to offset their emissions through the purchase of credits from initiatives aimed at cutting carbon emissions.

Carbon markets have, however, been beset with claims of greenwashing and doubts over the legitimacy of carbon removal projects linked to VCMs. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative hopes its new claims code of practice will make this a more rigorous space by providing a set of rules for companies to follow when making claims about carbon credits.

Companies will be able to make a VCMI claim by the end of this year, and to do this they must first comply with the initiative’s “foundational criteria”. This includes “committing to a science-aligned, long-term net zero target no later than 2050”, according to the VCMI’s website.

Adherents of the code must then choose from three ranks of claims — platinum, gold and silver. Platinum is the highest tier, requiring the purchase and retirement of “high-quality carbon credits equal to or greater than 100 per cent of remaining emissions”, says the VCMI.

Companies must then choose carbon credits that meet quality thresholds set by another organisation, the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market, through its “core carbon principles”.

Finally, companies must secure third-party assurance of the information that they report, proving the VCMI’s foundational criteria and requirements specific to each claim are met.

“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,” said Rachel Kyte, co-chair of the VCMI’s steering committee.

You can read the report here.

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