The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) – the international non-profit organization with a mission to boost the integrity of the voluntary carbon markets, released on November 28th additional guidance for its Claims Code of Practice (Claims Code).
The Claims Code was launched in July 2023 to provide companies looking to reduce emissions within the organization with a guidebook on what constitutes a credible climate claim. The additional guidance includes a Monitoring, Reporting and Assurance (MRA) Framework, a brand and associated mark for making ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claims, and a beta version of an additional claim.
The MRA framework and the ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claims branding will allow the companies to make Silver, Gold or Platinum Claims as outlined in the original Claims Code of Practice. Those claims involve the purchase of high-quality carbon credits after the appropriate emission reduction actions are implemented.
Carbon Integrity Claim depicts a certain amount of purchased and retired high-quality credits covering the remaining emissions after a demonstrated progress of the company’s near-term emission reduction targets.
The VCMI has defined three claims that companies can make:
- Carbon Integrity Silver – represents the purchase and retirement of high-quality carbon credits in an amount equal to or greater than 10%, and less than 50%, of a company’s remaining emissions once it has demonstrated progress towards its near-term emission reduction targets.
- Carbon Integrity Gold – represents the purchase and retirement of high-quality carbon credits in an amount equal to or greater than 50%, and less than 100%, of a company’ remaining emissions once it has demonstrated progress towards its near-term emission reduction targets.
- Carbon Integrity Platinum – represents the purchase and retirement of high-quality carbon credits in an amount equal to or greater than 100% of a company’s remaining emissions, once it has demonstrated progress towards its near term emissions reduction targets
“Voluntary carbon markets can be a powerful tool for mobilizing the investment in innovative technologies and actions needed to keep a 1.5 C limit on warming within reach. VCMI is performing a vital service by establishing high-integrity pathways for companies to support stronger climate action while making progress toward their own net zero- goals. By creating sound guardrails for the use of high-quality carbon credits, the new VCMI guidance will provide strong assurance that this finance will help deliver the greater climate action we so urgently need,” commented the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry.
The VCMI also launched the beta version of a new claim – the ‘Scope 3 Flexibility’ Claim that enables companies to take responsibility for their Scope 3 emissions (the emissions that aren’t directly produced by the company but which it has indirect responsibility over through its value chain). The guardrails are in place to maintain integrity and avoid misuse of the new claim.
Other guardrails as part of the new claim to ensure further reliability and avoid the use of greenwashing include:
- Companies must comply with the VCMI Foundational Criteria laid out in the Claims Code of Practice.
- Companies must make meaningful progress towards meeting scope 1 and 2 emission reduction targets.
- The number of carbon credits used must not exceed a volume of 50% of its GHG inventory Scope 3 emissions in the claim year.
- The use of credits must decline over time, leading to a complete phaseout no later than 2035. By then, the company must be on the path to net zero through internal decarbonization.
“Today, VCMI has delivered guidance that will accelerate action when used as part of a high integrity voluntary carbon market. Companies can use our Claims Code of Practice today. Governments can build out their plans for carbon markets today. And in the high-integrity voluntary carbon market, VCMI will work with other standard setters to ensure a well-governed and seamless set of rules speed the growth and deepening of these markets over the next year,” said Rachel Kyte, Co-Chair, VCMI.