Gold Standard respond to the UK Climate Change Committee’s report on the Voluntary Carbon Markets and Offsetting
On 13 October 2022 the UK Climate Change Committee issued a report on Voluntary Carbon Markets and Offsetting. In response Gold Standard welcomes the report, and renews calls for robust rules, methodologies and safeguards to ensure that carbon credits represent what they say they do, and contribute positively to local communities and environments.
Gold Standard recognises that there are several good recommendations in the Climate Change Committee’s report, which we hope the UK Government takes into account. We cannot offset our way to net zero, and the voluntary carbon market should always be treated as a complement to rather than a substitute for abatement within a company’s value chain.
We believe that government has a role to provide clarity on the claims that companies can make when using carbon credits, and to consider the role of other ‘beyond value chain mitigation’ that could support progress towards global net zero.
The UK has long held robust guidance for companies reporting their emissions inventories, referring to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, for example. In recent years the Protocol has been updated and supplemented by the Science Based Targets Initiative. This gives a good grounding for companies to report their own emissions as well as take responsibility for their residual footprint, using mechanisms like the voluntary carbon market. It is important though that the two, especially if considered offsetting, do not double count. This is now enshrined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and in Science Based Targets.
Similarly it is important that the UK leads the way on ensuring market mechansisms such as the VCM are aligned with the Paris Agreement, for example in matters of policy, baseline, additionality and double counting. The UK should take care to be a leader on ensuring credits used for voluntary offsetting are not reflected in the national inventory, in the same way that the Greenhouse Gas Protocol expects companies to exclude from their own targets.
We believe that the voluntary carbon market can be a powerful tool to promote emission reductions and sustainable development through activities that would not be possible without carbon finance. The CCC is right to highlight the need for robust rules, methodologies and safeguards to ensure that carbon credits represent what they say they do, and contribute positively to local communities and environments.
This is why Gold Standard has welcomed the initial proposals by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM) to develop core carbon principles to underpin quality across the carbon market. If the voluntary carbon market is to play an enduring, stable, and impactful role in global efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions, its growth must be based on firm foundations of quality and integrity. We continue to have faith in the IC-VCM’s work to establish these foundations, provided we don’t see a watering down of key parts of the proposals in the months ahead.