The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) was established in early 2021, with the aim of supporting demand-side integrity. That is, ensuring that corporates engaging in the carbon market are doing so in a manner which drives emissions reductions through the application of a mitigation hierarchy. This means that companies cannot solely rely on carbon credits to achieve their emissions reduction goals, but rather their use must be in addition to science-aligned decarbonisation investments where possible.

To support organisations in making credible climate claims, the VCMI launched their Claims Code of Practice (CCP) in June 2022. The CCP provides organisations with clear standards and guidance on how they can credibly incorporate carbon credits into their climate action plans. To participate in the CCP, organisations must align with the Foundational Criteria:

  1. Maintain and publicly disclose an annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
  2. Set and disclose Science-Based Targets Initiative near-term emissions reduction targets, and publicly committing to net zero emissions by no later than 2050.
  3. Demonstrate progress on financial allocation, governance and strategy that is aligned with meeting a near-term emissions reduction target.
  4. Public policy advocacy must support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Organisations that meet the foundational criteria for engagement with the VCMI can participate in the framework to obtain a brandmark reflecting the use of credits in their climate change strategy. The brand levels and their requirements are outlined below:

Image: Carbon Integrity Claims. VCMI, Claims Code of Practice, v2.0, November 2023, p. 26.

In line with initiatives such as the Science-Based Targets Initiative, each Carbon Integrity Claim accounts for full value chain emissions: scopes 1, 2 and 3. Credits used towards the achievement of a Carbon Integrity Claim must comply with the Integrity Committee for Voluntary Carbon Market’s Core Carbon Principles, which assure project and methodology-level credit integrity.

Scope 3 Flexibility Claim Beta Version

Recognising that not all organisations can yet meet near-term targets for value chain emissions – their downstream, or scope 3 emissions – through direct decarbonisation, VCMI has developed a Scop 3 Flexibility Claim. The Flexibility Claim will set guardrails to ensure that organisations’ claims remain credible, and in line with the broader CCP. A roadmap to develop the Scope 3 Flexibility Claim will be launched by Quarter 4, 2024, but the beta version enables select companies to use IC-VCM aligned credits to cover 50% or less of their scope 3 emissions. Importantly, credit use must decline to zero by 2035, or within 10 years – whichever is earlier of the two – providing an impetus for companies to invest directly in value chain decarbonisation.

Early Adopters Program

VCMI’s Early Adopters Program will highlight and support a select group of corporate climate leaders ready to be recognised for raising their ambition by being one of the first to make a VCMI claim. Companies can register their interest here.

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