New code of conduct for buying carbon credits launches

Today, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) released its Claims Code of Practice for corporate buyers of carbon credits. 

This framework answers two questions for the demand side of the voluntary carbon market: 1) When can companies credibly make voluntary use of carbon credits? and 2) What can they credibly say about those credits?

The voluntary credit market has been awash with validity issues highlighted by the lawsuit against Delta’s carbon-neutral pledge as well as many other exposés. The VCMI and the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), two of the biggest players trying to solve the market's integrity issues, announced earlier this month that they will be teaming up: Any company that wants the VCMI’s stamp of approval for their credit buying strategy will need to buy credits that pass ICVCM’s guidance. 

"ICVCM looks at the supply side of the market — what constitutes a high-quality credit from a high-quality project certified by a high-quality standard?" said Mark Kenber, executive director at VCMI. "And we look at the demand side — what constitutes high-quality use of credits and claims about them? We're effectively two parts of two sides of the same coin or two parts of the same system."

VCMI has also worked closely with the Science-Based Targets Initiative, CDP and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to ensure they, along with ICVM, are using the same vocabulary and methodologies. 

The Claims Code of Practice is just part one for VCMI. It’s a basic operational framework for companies to buy credits. It outlines four steps for companies to undertake to make a VCMI claim, including meeting VCMI’s foundational criteria, selecting a claim tier level (Platinum, Gold or Silver), selecting carbon credits that are in line with the ICVCM and working with a third-party verifier. 

On the Silver tier, companies purchase high-quality credits for between 20 and 60 percent of remaining emissions after making progress towards decarbonization targets; the Gold tier requires purchasing between 60 percent and 80 percent of emissions, and a Platinum tier purchase offsets 100 percent or remaining

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