Initial statement from Annette Nazareth, Chair of the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market

Apr 5, 2022

Initial statement from Annette Nazareth, Chair of the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market

The IPCC Report shows how desperately urgent the mitigation imperative is. To keep 1.5ºC within reach, we need every tool available to us working as effectively as possible to reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere. A high-integrity voluntary carbon market is an important complementary tool, and this report underscores the urgent imperative of building the consistently high integrity necessary for the VCM to achieve its full potential.

It is critical that we arrive at a common global understanding that carbon credits are not a replacement for robust policy nor for rapid internal decarbonisation by companies. And those credits only matter if they are high quality, traded in a robust market, and used as part of a credible net-zero pathway. That’s why the Integrity Council is working apace to set and enforce a definitive global threshold standard for high-quality carbon credits through our Core Carbon Principles and Assessment Framework.

Companies should commit to credible net-zero pathways and reduce emissions as quickly as possible, but they can also buy high-quality carbon credits and invest in emissions reductions projects now alongside rigorous efforts to reduce value chain emissions. This will be critical to address the urgency of reaching net-zero carbon emissions and stabilising the global temperature.

The IPCC report tells us nature has a bigger role to play than we previously thought, and nature is one of the most cost-effective solutions in the fight against climate change. And yet it is one of the most under-invested solutions available to us.

High-quality carbon credits can efficiently mobilise urgently-needed capital towards nature-based solutions that protect and promote nature and biodiversity, and deliver sustainable development co-benefits to communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. This is particularly important when we consider that 90% of offset commitments come from companies headquartered in the Global North, while 90% of potential natural climate solutions are based in the Global South.1

We also know there isn’t enough available land on the planet for nature to be the whole solution, not when we need to ensure fair and equitable access to food, water and energy. As the IPCC report points out, the competing demands for land need to be carefully managed.

This means we need to reduce as much as possible, to a level where the demands on nature to remove carbon can be met.  And at the same time we need to be absolutely sure that carbon credits from nature-based solutions are doing what they say they are doing, based on the best science and expertise available, and they are being used legitimately.

It also means we need to accelerate innovation and uptake of existing and emerging breakthrough technologies. Carbon credits supporting emerging climate technologies can help scale down cost curves, bringing these technologies to market earlier and decreasing their “green premiums” against carbon-intensive alternatives.

A high-integrity voluntary carbon market, operating at scale, would be ‘CLEAN’, which means it would be: Catalytic, mobilizing finance towards mitigation, particularly into emerging markets, and accelerating uptake of technology solutions; Local, channeling finance into local communities, creating jobs and enhancing the livelihoods of marginalized groups; Empowering, accelerating implementation of nationally determined contributions and net-zero commitments and helping increase ambition across the value chain; Additional, channeling finance that otherwise wouldn’t be available into emissions removals and reductions that otherwise wouldn’t happen; and Nature-positive, protecting ecosystems, particularly forests and natural habitats, and promoting nature-based climate solutions.

The science is clear. Every fraction of a degree matters. Every ton of carbon matters. Every year matters. So every tool that can help accelerate a just transition to 1.5 degrees, matters. The voluntary carbon market is one of those tools and our task at the Integrity Council is to make sure it matters for the right reasons.