Delivering on the Paris Agreement: Roadmap launched to ensure voluntary carbon markets play credible role

Ahead of COP26, VCMI (the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative), which BVRio Director, Pedro Moura Costa, is a steering committee member, has laid out an action plan to ensure voluntary carbon markets play a credible role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement temperature goal and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Voluntary carbon markets enable companies to invest in and purchase carbon credits from activities that reduce or remove CO2 emissions as part of their climate strategies – currently, companies can use these credits to compensate for their greenhouse gas footprint and make climate action claims such as “net zero” or “climate neutral”.

The VCMI Roadmap, published today, sets out the steps VCMI will take to enable voluntary carbon markets that are inclusive and lead to increased ambition on climate change. Core to VCMI’s approach is addressing whether and how businesses’ use of carbon credits can be truly above and beyond and not displace or delay science-based action on decarbonisation. These carbon credits must be underpinned by high-integrity projects that benefit local communities and Indigenous Peoples – supporting sustainable development and aligned with national climate priorities.

VCMI takes the view that voluntary carbon markets could be an important source of additional finance for global climate action. However, the use of carbon credits cannot distract from, or replace, private sector action on decarbonisation – if unresolved, this could undermine the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The Roadmap, compiled with input from a range of stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and businesses, and informed by the feedback from VCMI’s Consultation Report released in July, sets out to tackle this problem, and ensure carbon credits are used above and beyond ambitious government policies and targets, and deep private sector decarbonisation. The Roadmap sets forth the critical issues VCMI will address, including:

  • Ensuring private sector climate action claims, like “climate neutral” and “net zero”, represent credible, science-based action on decarbonisation from production to consumption.
  • Bringing transparency to climate action claims based on carbon credits – including, through guidelines for businesses, regular reporting on progress on use of carbon credits.
  • Determining the balance between reduction and removal carbon credits and ascertaining how this balance should change over time.
  • Preventing double counting and claiming of carbon credits.
  • Ensuring inclusion of the rights and voices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities that host carbon credit projects.
  • Assessing how voluntary carbon markets should and could align with the regulatory environment and any future Article 6 rulebook agreed in the UNFCCC negotiations.

Download the Roadmap from the VCMI website.