Integrity Council launches global benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits

THE INTEGRITY Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market has launched its Core Carbon Principles and Program-level Assessment Framework, setting rigorous thresholds on disclosure and sustainable development for high-integrity carbon credits and establishing a pathway towards even higher ambition.

The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) were developed with input from hundreds of organizations throughout the voluntary carbon market. They set out fundamental principles for high-quality credits that create real, verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practice. The Integrity Council is also publishing the first part of its Assessment Framework, which provides detailed criteria for assessing whether carbon-crediting programs are CCP-Eligible.

The CCPs are designed to build trust, unlock investment and channel it at speed and scale to effective climate solutions by providing a readily identifiable benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits, no matter which carbon-crediting program issued them, what kind of credits they are, or where they are generated. This will reduce confusion, overcome market fragmentation, and give buyers confidence they are funding projects making a genuine impact on emissions.

Annette Nazareth, Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market Chair, said: “It’s clear we are not acting fast enough to address the climate crisis. We need every tool available working at full speed to secure a liveable future and a high-integrity voluntary carbon market is one of those tools. Well-functioning markets and integrity are inextricably linked. Building a widely shared understanding of what high integrity means for carbon crediting programs and categories of carbon credits is a pre-condition for the development and growth of a viable and vibrant VCM. The CCPs and Program-level criteria we are issuing today are an important step towards a transparent, regulated-like market where buyers can easily identify and price carbon credits that meet consistently high-integrity standards that will also increase ambition over time.”

The Integrity Council criteria take a significant step forward for consistent transparency by requiring programs to publish comprehensive information in an accessible manner so all stakeholders can understand how projects issuing CCP-labelled carbon credits impact emissions, society and the environment.

The criteria break new ground by requiring programs to ensure high-integrity credits come from projects with robust social and environmental safeguards that deliver positive sustainable development impacts. CCP-Eligible programs must ensure project developers assess the risks of any negative environmental and social impacts, articulate measures to mitigate those impacts, and report on progress. These include impacts on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPs & LCs), biodiversity, pollution, human rights, labor rights, and gender equality. These details must be captured in validated design documents, which programs will be required to publish along with associated monitoring reports provided by projects.

Angela Churie Kalhauge, Executive Vice President for Impact at the Environmental Defense Fund and an Integrity Council Board member, said: “I applaud the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market’s efforts to provide clarity around what a “good” carbon credit looks like. The CCPs aim to help programs strive for high integrity and give investors and the public confidence that high-integrity credits are making genuine climate impact.”

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