The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) has unveiled new guidelines to help buyers identify high-quality carbon credits in a $2bn industry that is currently unregulated. The aim is to ensure that offsets purchased to meet carbon-neutral commitments actually do help mitigate climate change and do not violate human rights. To receive the ICVCM seal of approval, carbon credit certifiers, such as Gold Standard and American Carbon Registry, will need to demonstrate to the ICVCM how their credits were generated and their authenticity as scientifically-backed emission reductions or removals. The policies also require adherence to respected environmental practices regarding the rights of local and indigenous communities.
This month’s guidelines apply only to certifiers of carbon credits, with separate guidelines for businesses that buy them. Carbon credits have become a significant part of several companies’ net zero oil and gas transition. However, suppliers of carbon credits have been linked to the misuse of these credits in the past, and there have been concerns about their ability to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable development.
Economist Nat Keohane, who is president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and a senior adviser for the ICVCM, has stated that high-quality standards for the use of carbon credits will help increase trust in the market and channel billions of dollars towards the mitigation of climate change. Additionally, Gilles Dufrasne, a policy officer at Carbon Market Watch and an expert on the ICVCM panel, welcomed the guidelines, adding that many carbon standards have not met these standards, and the new guidelines represent comprehensive change which enhances the transparency of the system.