Unlocking the Voluntary Carbon Market: How VCMI Guides Corporations to Credible Carbon Credit Claims

Discover how the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) helps corporations make credible carbon credit claims towards achieving Net Zero.

Luke Mendenhall

10 Jun 2024 4 mins read time

In recent years, corporations have accelerated their commitments to tackling the carbon emissions associated with their operations, products, and services. Recognizing that reducing emissions is paramount, climate-conscious companies face obstacles posed by technological, economic, and political constraints. As we continue progressing towards a zero-carbon economy, many corporations are also seeking to compensate their annual residual and historical emissions with responsible action.

In this dynamic landscape of corporate sustainability, addressing carbon emissions has become increasingly urgent. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has emerged as a crucial force, guiding corporations towards the responsible use of carbon credits. This blog explores the key components of VCMI, its solutions to industry challenges, recent developments, and how EcoAct can help your organization with VCMI claims.

How VCMI came into being

The Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) emerged in response to growing concerns about carbon emissions and climate change. The historical lack of clarity regarding permissible claims based on carbon credit utilization has led to several challenges within the industry. The primary challenges being:

  • Greenwashing Concerns: Ambiguity on the credible use of carbon credits has raised concerns about greenwashing, where companies may exaggerate or misrepresent their environmental impact.
  • Beyond “Carbon Neutrality”: The need to move beyond simplistic “carbon neutrality” claims towards more nuanced and substantiated assertions of emission reductions.
  • Legal Complexity: Legal issues, particularly in regions like the UK and the EU (Green Claims Directive), have added layers of complexity and risk for companies navigating carbon markets.

Despite these challenges, the Paris Agreement’s inception in 2015 marked a turning point for the VCM, driving its expansion and garnering significant investments and commitments from companies globally. This growth spurred the establishment of key initiatives such as the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) and the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI) to enhance transparency and effectiveness within the market.

VCMI’s Comprehensive Solution

Formation and Objective: VCMI was established at COP26 with a clear objective – to provide a robust framework for corporations to make credible claims when utilizing carbon credits. It operates synergistically with the International Carbon Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), which focuses on credit quality standards.

Claims Code of Practice: Through extensive consultation and industry collaboration, VCMI has developed a robust Claims Code of Practice. This code sets a high standard for organizations engaging in the Voluntary Carbon Market, ensuring transparency, credibility, and alignment with global sustainability goals.

Alignment with ICVCM: VCMI’s Claims Code mandates the purchase of credits aligned with the Core Carbon Principles (CCP) credits and emphasizes adherence to quality markers. It provides clarity on acceptable practices, ensuring that companies make verifiable and meaningful contributions to emission reductions and removals.

Before ICVCM finishes its assessment of CCP eligible methodologies, VCMI will allow the use of credits eligible under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a global scheme that aims to reduce and offset emissions from civil aviation. CORSIA-eligible credits must be issued by carbon standards that meet stringent criteria for environmental and social integrity, while the credits themselves must adhere to principles broadly agreed to represent the highest quality. Due to this shared commitment to quality and integrity, credits already approved by CORSIA face fewer hurdles to becoming CCP eligible via the ICVCM assessment process.

Collaborative Initiatives: VCMI collaborates with leading sustainability bodies such as CDP, Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). These collaborations contribute to an integrated integrity framework, enhancing the credibility and impact of carbon reduction efforts.

Available Claims Framework

VCMI offers a tiered claims framework, including Silver, Gold, and Platinum claims. These tiers reflect varying levels of environmental commitment, verified through rigorous assessment criteria and verification processes.

Carbon Integrity Claims. Credit
Carbon Integrity Claims. Credit: https://vcmintegrity.org/make-a-claim/

Future Outlook and Key Considerations

Strategic Decisions: Anticipated decisions on Scope 3 Flexibility, enhanced alignment with SBTi and other industry bodies, and updates from CORSIA and ICVCM announcements are key areas to monitor.

Continued Collaboration: Greater alignment and collaboration across industry best-practices bodies are expected, fostering a cohesive and effective approach towards carbon reduction and integrity in carbon markets.

How EcoAct can help your organization with VCMI claims

EcoAct can offer valuable guidance on which companies may benefit from making VCMI claims and how to do this. Investing in verified carbon offsetting is a crucial move in taking accountability for residual emissions and adhering to best practices en route to achieving net-zero goals. As organizations refine their net-zero offsetting strategies, EcoAct experts are here to provide tailored guidance enabling companies to maximize the value of carbon credits and maintain rigor in their journey towards net-zero emissions.

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