3 min read

Statement in response to Panorama

Written by ICVCM

Published

The Integrity Council was established as an independent governance body for the voluntary carbon market. Our work addresses issues relating to the methodologies used to design, implement, and measure projects, such as some of those highlighted in the Panorama TV programme.

We are assessing both the programs that issue credits and the methodologies used to design them. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity initiative has defined rules for how credits should be used – which is only ever as a supplement to deep decarbonization.

As we were not contacted to contribute to the BBC documentary, we are setting out our perspective here on the issues it raised.

The voluntary carbon market is moving into a new chapter. Until now, it has been hard for buyers to identify high-integrity credits. It has been an unregulated market, in which the rules for setting up projects and issuing credits have been inconsistent, and there has been a lack of clarity on how credits should be used. However, a range of groups across the sector have been working to improve transparency and consistency. This means we are moving towards an era of standardization and greater impact.

We have worked with stakeholders throughout the market to establish the Core Carbon Principles (CCPs), 10 fundamental principles for high-quality carbon credits, that create real, verifiable climate impact. By setting rigorous criteria, the CCPs are designed to build trust in the market and fulfil its potential to generate critical finance for climate solutions.

The CCPs are already raising the market to a consistent standard of high integrity. Carbon-crediting programs with a 98% share of the market have updated their procedures to comply with the CCP criteria, and are now eligible to use the CCP label. However, through our ‘two tick’ process, carbon credits can only be tagged with the CCP label by CCP-eligible programs if the projects that generated them use CCP-approved methodologies.

We are reviewing more than 100 methodologies, including those used for forestry and other nature projects, which mobilize investment to keep forests standing and avoid forest degradation – a critical part of the climate solution. Through our assessments, the CCPs are designed to ensure that these nature-based projects continue to make a meaningful contribution to reducing and removing emissions, while also supporting local communities.

Unlocking climate finance via the VCM for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities is one of the foundational reasons for the existence of the Integrity Council, and this commitment runs through every aspect of our work. The self-led IPs and LCs VCM Engagement Forum, co-hosted with VCMI, will work to ensure the delivery of significant benefits for IPs and LCs, such as income opportunities and biodiversity protection. We continue to work with a broad spectrum of groups to incorporate the latest science and best practice. This includes engaging human rights organisations in our processes.

Companies’ first priority must always be to make deep and rapid cuts to their own emissions. Buying high-integrity credits allows them to go further and take responsibility today for emissions they cannot yet cut. Evidence shows this also spurs on their efforts to decarbonise their operations and supply chain.

We need every tool available working at full speed if the world is to tackle the climate crisis effectively. The voluntary carbon market is one such tool. There is a huge gap in finance for protecting and restoring nature, and the science is clear that we cannot reach our climate targets without rapidly increasing finance for nature projects. Our goal is to help the voluntary market to fulfil its potential to play a vital role in climate action.