VCMI Revolutionizes Net Zero with Groundbreaking Carbon Credit System

"Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative Enhances Claims Code of Practice with New Guidance for High-Quality Carbon Credits"

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has recently introduced additional guidance for its Claims Code of Practice, allowing companies to make claims about their use of high-quality carbon credits. This new guidance includes a Monitoring, Reporting, and Assurance (MRA) Framework, as well as an identity mark for asserting ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claims. It also introduces a new claim called ‘Scope 3 Flexibility’. The U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, has commended VCMI’s new guidance, stating that it will provide strong assurance that high-quality carbon credits will contribute to greater climate action.

With the new framework and the ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claims branding, companies can now make Silver, Gold, or Platinum Claims, in line with the original Claims Code published in June. This empowers companies to declare their use of high-quality carbon credits and direct financial support towards initiatives that combat climate change. It also highlights their efforts in exceeding science-based emissions reductions.

Voluntary carbon markets (VCMs), when used correctly, can increase financial resources directed towards low- and middle-income economies and play a significant role in achieving the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement. Estimates suggest that if companies start investing in VCMs as part of their net zero strategies today, over $50 billion could be unlocked by 2030. This exponential growth in VCM demand is expected to surpass 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Evidence indicates that companies engaging in these markets tend to be more ambitious and undergo faster decarbonization compared to those that do not. According to Ecosystem Marketplace analysis, buyers in VCMs are 1.8 times more likely than non-buyers to continually reduce their carbon footprint. However, for voluntary carbon markets to be effective, they must operate with integrity. This means that carbon credits must genuinely represent verified reductions and removals of emissions, complying with robust environmental and social standards. Companies should use these credits in addition to, rather than as a substitute for, decarbonization efforts in their transition to net zero. Claims associated with these credits must be credible and reliable. Adhering to the VCMI Claims Code, which includes the newly provided guidance, ensures the assurance of these principles.

Mark Kenber, the Executive Director of VCMI, emphasized the relevance and timing of the release of this new guidance, noting that as COP28 approaches, discussions about VCMs will regain prominence. He believes that it is important to focus on the promotion of credible and believable climate action. With the new guidelines for credible claims, companies can confidently use carbon credits and effectively communicate their commitment to climate action.

In addition to the new guidance, VCMI has also launched the beta version of a new claim called the Scope 3 Flexibility Claim. This claim allows companies to use carbon credits while scaling their internal decarbonization investments and initiatives. When completed in 2024, this claim will enable companies to be accountable for their Scope 3 emissions while working towards their net zero goals using high-quality carbon credits. Stringent measures are in place to ensure the integrity of this claim and prevent its misuse. Scope 3 refers to the indirect emissions from a company’s value chain. According to MSCI Carbon Markets, about $19 billion could be mobilized if companies used credits to fill the emissions gap between their Scope 3 reduction targets and current emissions.

To further promote integrity in the new claim and prevent greenwashing, VCMI has established guardrails, including:

– Making the First VCMI Claims
The launch of the ‘Carbon Integrity’ brand and the MRA Framework is a significant milestone, allowing companies to initiate their first VCMI claims. The ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claims brand signifies that corporations are actively contributing to the achievement of global net zero goals. It includes a unique mark used across the Carbon Integrity Claims, with variations denoting the type of claim – Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The newly released guidelines aim to assist companies in effectively communicating their attainment of Carbon Integrity Claims. The MRA Framework serves as a mechanism for companies to substantiate their claims. Companies must provide details that satisfy the Claims Code’s Foundational Criteria and disclose essential information about the carbon credits used to support their claims. This information will undergo independent verification by a third party, reinforcing the credibility of the Carbon Integrity Claims. The MRA Framework forms the foundation of authority that upholds the authenticity and credibility of Carbon Integrity Claims within the VCMI framework.

The VCMI Claims Code of Practice serves as a rulebook outlining how companies can ethically use carbon credits within credible, science-aligned pathways towards achieving net zero decarbonization. By establishing this guidance, VCMI aims to cultivate trust and bolster confidence in how companies participate in voluntary carbon credit markets.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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