The Core Carbon Principles
Plus the Program-Level Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedure
The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) are a global benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits that set rigorous thresholds on disclosure and sustainable development. Developed with input from hundreds of organizations throughout the voluntary carbon market, the CCPs provide a credible and rigorous means of identifying high-integrity carbon credits that create real, verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practice.
High-integrity carbon credits can unlock urgently needed finance to reduce and remove billions of tonnes of emissions. The world is on track for 2.6°C warming by 2100. We need every tool available working at full speed to secure a liveable future. A high-integrity voluntary carbon market is one important tool that can help finance the transition to 1.5°C.
What are the Core Carbon Principles?
The 10 Core Carbon Principles
What makes a carbon credit ‘high integrity’? In consultation with stakeholders across the market, the Integrity Council has developed 10 Core Carbon Principles which set out the key principles for high-integrity carbon credits:
The carbon-crediting program shall have effective program governance to ensure transparency, accountability, continuous improvement and the overall quality of carbon credits.
The carbon-crediting program shall operate or make use of a registry to uniquely identify, record and track mitigation activities and carbon credits issued to ensure credits can be identified securely and unambiguously.
The carbon-crediting program shall provide comprehensive and transparent information on all credited mitigation activities. The information shall be publicly available in electronic format and shall be accessible to non-specialised audiences, to enable scrutiny of mitigation activities.
Robust independent third-party validation and verification
The carbon-crediting program shall have program-level requirements for robust independent third-party validation and verification of mitigation activities.
B. Emissions Impact
The greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be additional, i.e., they would not have occurred in the absence of the incentive created by carbon credit revenues.
The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be permanent or, where there is a risk of reversal, there shall be measures in place to address those risks and compensate reversals.
Robust quantification of emission reductions and removals
The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be robustly quantified, based on conservative approaches, completeness and scientific methods.
No double counting
The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall not be double counted, i.e., they shall only be counted once towards achieving mitigation targets or goals. Double counting covers double issuance, double claiming, and double use.
C. Sustainable Development
Sustainable development benefits and safeguards
The carbon-crediting program shall have clear guidance, tools and compliance procedures to ensure mitigation activities conform with or go beyond widely established industry best practices on social and environmental safeguards while delivering positive sustainable development impacts.
Contribution toward net zero transition
The mitigation activity shall avoid locking-in levels of GHG emissions, technologies or carbon-intensive practices that are incompatible with the objective of achieving net zero GHG emissions by mid-century.
The Program-Level Assessment Framework
The CCPs are operationalised through the Assessment Framework, which provides rigorous criteria and decision tools for each principle. Carbon credits will receive the CCP label only if both the carbon-crediting program that issued them and the credit category are assessed by the Integrity Council and meet its criteria for high-integrity (climate, environmental and social) set out in the CCPs.
The Program-Level Assessment Framework ensures that the Integrity Council can consistently assess whether carbon-crediting programs meet the criteria outlined in the Core Carbon Principles.
The Credit-Level Assessment Framework, which will be released mid-year, will set out the criteria that the credit categories must meet.
The Assessment Procedure
The Assessment Procedure aims to embed the Core Carbon Principles into the voluntary carbon market. It sets out:
- Our process for assessing CCP-eligibility
- How eligible carbon credits will be tagged
- How the Integrity Council will continue to oversee and enforce the CCPs
- How this process aims to help facilitate the continual development of the voluntary carbon market
Read more about the CCPs, the Program-Level Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedure in the Resources section.
The impact of the Core Carbon Principles
The Core Carbon Principles set a global benchmark for credible, high-integrity carbon credits. In doing so, the CCPs will build trust, unlock additional investment and help deliver real climate impact at the speed and scale needed to transition to 1.5°C.
Building trust in the voluntary carbon market
Buyers will have more confidence in easily identifying and pricing high-integrity carbon credits, no matter who issues them or what sort of project they fund, or where it is generated. This will reduce confusion, overcome market fragmentation, and give buyers confidence that they are funding projects making a genuine impact on emissions.
This will also help to channel capital towards the most impactful, low-cost climate mitigation activities globally at pace, which is particularly critical for developing economies.
Investing in impactful projects
A high-integrity voluntary carbon market can further accelerate the uptake of emerging technologies, protect and promote nature and biodiversity, and put vital funding into the hands of the indigenous peoples and local communities who are critical stewards of our core carbon sinks.
An ambitious – but achievable – benchmark
With the Core Carbon Principles, an ambitious but achievable threshold for high-integrity carbon credits has been set. And this is just the beginning – the Integrity Council has also established a pathway for continuous improvement, working with our stakeholders across the market to continually improve and strengthen the CCPs over time.
Core Carbon Principles Resources
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Core Carbon Principles
Part 3: Summary for Decision Makers
Part 4: Assessment Framework
Part 5: Definitions
Part 6: Assessment Procedure
Feedback Statement Resources
The Integrity Council gathered feedback from commentary received during the public consultation period and from an array of workshops and briefings to different stakeholder groups. Audiences engaged included carbon-crediting programmes, carbon project developers, market participants, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPs & LCs), environmental NGOs, industry, science and academia, business associations, financial regulators, governments, multilateral organisations and other climate transition initiatives.
The briefings and workshops reached 1300+ people in 60 countries in 4 languages and were designed to drive alignment, foster endorsement, and build relationships. Participants and respondents provided both generic and detailed comments and suggestions for improvements to these proposals.
The Integrity Council is including this Feedback Statement to further provide transparency on the process and outcomes relating to updating the CCPs, the program-level Assessment Framework, and the Assessment Procedure, including both external inputs and internal recommendations and decision-making. This Feedback Statement will be updated with the release of the category-level Assessment Framework in Q2 2023.
Core Carbon Principles Public Briefing
The 2022 Public Consultation
The Integrity Council has worked hard to build a common understanding of what high integrity means for carbon credits. The CCPs are informed by the insights and experience of more than 350 organizations. These include carbon-crediting programs and project developers, academics, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples, policymakers, buyers and investors, who took part in the public consultation on the draft Core Carbon Principles. Over 5,000 comments were gathered over the 60-day period, demonstrating the strong level of commitment to high integrity across the whole voluntary carbon market and beyond.