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Gold Standard 3.0 FAQs

We are evolving our standard to bridge the gap between climate and development, enabling various outcomes to be certified through a single process and unlocking new sources of funding. The objective of this page is to try to answer some of the questions we’ve received with regards to these developments. If you have any further queries or questions on our Gold Standard Version 3.0, please do not hesitate to contact us>>

In simple terms, why and what is Gold Standard 3.0?

  • We are restructuring Gold Standard to provide a unifying standard which ensures all certification follows a standardized approach to rules and requirements, regardless of the product or claim being certified.
     
  • Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the basis, Gold Standard 3.0 allows the certification of demonstrable sustainable development contributions beyond climate mitigation.  
     
  • The new structure is essentially made up of three key pillars:
  1. Gold Standard Principles + Safeguards – the core principles and values that all Gold Standard projects must adhere to.
  2. Activity Methodologies + Quantification – the quantification of the project impacts. It’s been structured with flexibility in mind, enabling multiple activities and impacts to be certified in one process and ensuring applicability at scale.
  3. Certified Outcomes, Products + Claims – what products are created and/or what claims can be made. These can range from issued products (such as VERs, WBCs) to certified outcomes (black carbon) to limited level assurances.
  • To support this new standard, we are developing a new online platform that will guide all project participants through the project development process. The new IT infrastructure will: 
  1. Provide smart, intelligent systems that will pre-select only the criteria relevant for a particular project/initiative.
  2. Automate the process wherever possible, decreasing the burden on monitoring - saving time and money.
  3. Provide data that can be used to make claims and automate metrics for SDGs – supporting the needs of corporates and investors, and informing policymakers.
  • Gold Standard 3.0 will also allow:
  1. The potential issuance of multiple products (e.g. carbon + water + health) within one project.
  2. Certification of impacts or outcomes where there is no desire to issue credits or certificates. This may apply to projects, businesses or donors seeking to demonstrate good project design, quantifiable climate mitigation and SDG contributions without the need for a revenue stream.
  3. Projects or activities to holistically address interactions and trade-offs at an appropriate scale.

Generally Gold Standard 3.0 appears to be more burdensome than previous versions at first review.  

This is because it gathers together the key elements of our three existing scopes under one umbrella, but it is important to note that not all activities will be affected by all clauses. A good example is the Safeguarding Principles where there are 120+ requirements in total. However, if you imagine a wind farm or a cookstove project then immediately a large number of these principles are irrelevant (water abstraction/scarcity, use of pesticide, animal welfare etc). They are required in the standard all the same due to the broad variety of activities that are currently eligible under GS and that may become eligible in the future. Ultimately we intend to develop an online platform that will pre-filter by activity to make this even simpler for developers.

It should also be noted that V3 is intended to be non-activity specific. We agree and are working on tools to make certain project types more accessible but the main standard is not the place to attempt this, otherwise it will become larger and more fragmented as we disaggregate by activity. A good illustration of this would be to add together our three existing scopes (energy, land-use and water) and compare the number of pages to what is currently included in V3.

Will Gold Standard 3.0 increase cost and what will be the fee model?  

Our intention is to reduce burden and increase efficiency wherever possible within the bounds of maintaining the high quality and rigour associated with Gold Standard. The standard itself is one area where this will be targeted, but perhaps more importantly is the development of an online platform and an Assurance Framework focussed on V3. These are not yet developed but will be released in due course. Finally, our intention is to pilot V3 prior to wider use in order to test the level of burden and cost. This is targeted for 2017 and beyond.

Terminology and definitions are not clear.  

The public consultation included a glossary section accessed via a hover function over key terms, it seems however that this was not picked up by some reviewers. A clearer guidance will be provided in round two of the consultation. Similarly, to earlier clarifications it is important to note that GS currently operates different terminology across its scopes and accordingly V3 will have to involve a degree of consolidation and change. Our intention is to also focus on plain English wherever reasonable.

Requirement to prove positive contribution and monitor 3 SDG targets increases burden on developer. 

The contribution to three areas is actually in line with our existing scopes if you consider that energy (V2.2) requires emissions reductions plus 2 other positive contributions (and one minimum neutral) to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The change in V3 is that emissions reductions (linked to SDG13 targets) are more explicitly one of the three positive contributions. It is noted that use of SDG targets requires quantification in many cases and therefore may imply a different approach to previous versions.

Is it intended that an activity can receive multiple products (like credits) or statements (like black carbon or ADALYs) and have these bought or funded by a single or by different buyers and sponsors?  

Yes - the intention is that activities will be able to stack products and statements of outcome in order to seek funding from multiple (and new) sources. This is also a key piece of work ahead of the second round consultation wherein rules on additionality, claims management, co-issuance, causal linkages, registry function etc will be clarified.  

How will GS monitor/manage claims made against funded products or outcomes, particularly if there are multiple funders?  

This is a new innovation within the carbon markets and considered to be critical in attracting finance from other sectors. This will also be further clarified ahead of the second round of consultation and in discussion with our existing stakeholders.  It is intended that GS will provide clearer claims guidance for the different statements and a clear assignment within a registry. ‘Policing’ of claims as a technical development is something that will be further defined during piloting and in discussions with stakeholders to ensure that we play the role that the market(s) require of us and in line with transparent, best practice.

How will Gold Standard Version 3.0 affect my current project?

All projects currently undergoing certification under the existing Gold Standard scopes will be eligible to transition to Gold Standard 3.0. The new standard will first be road-tested on a number of pilot projects before coming into full force over the next 2-3 years. It is our intention to support the transition of existing GS projects to Gold Standard 3.0 and will release further details later in the development. In the meantime existing projects will be unaffected and we will continue to provide all services as normal.

TECHNICAL CLARIFICATIONS

Why do we allow up to (net) 10,000 tCO2e per year to be produced by an activity?  

This clause was included to allow consideration of resilience or basic services projects, such as water supply, to be viable under V3 within a limited tolerance for the emissions that they inevitably may produce. This requirement will be considered in more detail during the re-draft.

Clarify the difference between positive contributions to the SDGs and what is taken forward through a GS methodology and ultimately to issuance or statement.  

This is a key piece of work ahead of the second round consultation but broadly the intention is that demonstration of the three positive contributions in the base requirements is not expected to involve the more rigorous MRV and performance threshold as a GS approved methodology.  For example, demonstrating a positive contribution to health in the base requirements would not involve the same level of monitoring as would be required to receive an ADALYs contribution statement through the use of a GS methodology.  We recognise however that this difference requires greater clarity.

CONSULTATION CLARIFICATIONS

Where can I review the outcomes and results from the first round public consultation? 

We have published all the results and the feedback received from the first round of public consultation. Documents include a summary of the first round consultation, the public comments from the consultation and the feedback received from targeted consultations. All these documents can be located in our consultation page here>>

Can I submit my feedback via email/outside of the Collaborase system?

We are managing the consultation via our online platform which is accessible via our website and includes instructions on how to read and comment. For transparency and efficiency we are not issuing the documents or accepting comments outside the platform.

When you register you should be sent a link to access them via email. As with any online platform this email can sometimes get lost and 99% of the time is resolved either by:

  1. Checking your junk or spam inbox
  2. Requesting that your IT administrator remove the security blocks for the Collaborase site 
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