CEO of carbon credit certifier, Verra, to step down

THE CEO of the world’s leading carbon credit certifier, Verra, has announced he will step down next month. David Antonioli, will step down after almost 15 years of service to the organisation and to its growth on the world stage.

The Guardian reports that this resignation comes amid concerns that Verra, a Washington-based non-profit, approved tens of millions of worthless offsets that are used by major companies for climate and biodiversity commitments.

In January, a nine-month investigation by the Guardian, Die Zeit and SourceMaterial found Verra rainforest credits used by Disney, Shell, Gucci and other big corporations “were largely worthless, often based on stopping the destruction of rainforests that were not threatened, according to independent studies.”

The Guardian says that the report also found evidence of forced evictions at a flagship scheme co-operated by Conservation International in Peru.

David Antonioli strongly rejected the findings and Verra is in the process of introducing new rules for generating rainforest carbon credits, with all projects set to be using the new system by mid-2025.

Verra’s statement following its CEO’s resignation says “Under David Antonioli’s leadership, Verra has grown into an organization that is critical to achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement and ensuring sustainable development around the world. In recent years, Verra has taken several steps to strengthen its programs, including opening a broad public consultation on the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program, announcing plans to release a new consolidated REDD methodology, and developing a new nature crediting framework.”

The Guardian says however that “Scientists have called for the unregulated system to be urgently reformed to finance climate mitigation and forest conservation despite current concerns about integrity.”

To scale the critical funding required for carbon sequestration at a planetary scale, integrity and transparency are essential, alongside the delivery of real benefits for local communities and biodiversity. A new generation of innovative players is stepping up and working with standard bodies, academics, corporates, and communities to create a new era of carbon markets.

During Antonioli’s tenure, Verra says that it brought natural climate solutions into the carbon markets and demonstrated that REDD can work both to protect forests and improve people’s lives. Verra also pioneered a new model for rural economic development through carbon finance and seeded new markets by solving difficult problems and enabling finance to flow.

Judith Simon, Verra President and interim CEO. “We are grateful for David’s steady leadership and the vast experience he brought to the organization.”

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