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VCMI launches Claims Code of Practice to ensure carbon industry standards

The Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has unveiled its Claims Code of Practice, offering companies a comprehensive rulebook for making credible climate claims whilst using carbon credits in their journey towards achieving net-zero emissions.

Code of Practice to ensure carbon industry standards_rows of seedlings in soil bags_visual 1Top view of rows of seedlings in soil bags.

After publishing the draft of the Claims Code last year, VCMI underwent extensive beta testing and rigorous consultations and engaged in multi-stakeholder collaboration. The initiative received support from a wide range of non-profits, international organisations, governments, and industry groups. Climate experts worldwide regard the Claims Code as a significant step forward for the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), which previously faced substantial criticism.

At the heart of VCMI's Claims Code is the promotion of the ‘contribution claims’ model, enabling the financing of climate actions through carbon credits. Rachel Kyte, Co-Chair of VCMI's Steering Committee, emphasised that voluntary carbon markets bring considerable benefits to companies' net-zero transition and global climate financing. The Claims Code aims to instil greater confidence and trust among users, as integrity and trust form the foundation of a high-value, high-impact market.

Read more: The integrity of VCMs emphasised by VCMI ahead of COP28

The final claim tiers in the Claims Code, namely Silver, Gold, and Platinum, replace the provisional bronze, silver, and gold levels. Each tier recognises investments in emission reductions and removals beyond corporate actions required to achieve net-zero goals. Notably, the Platinum tier represents the highest available level for companies to claim, indicating their exceptional commitment.

The Claims Code includes a chart with thresholds for each tier, representing the number of carbon credits retired based on a company's remaining emissions in a given year. VCMI plans to provide additional guidance on the Measurement, Reporting, and Assurance (MRA) framework, as well as introduce more claim tiers and names, in November 2023.

To make a VCMI ‘net zero’ claim, companies must adhere to four steps: 

  1. Maintain and publish an annual greenhouse gas inventory
  2. Set and disclose an independently validated and science-based near-term emissions-cutting target, as well as commit to achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050;
  3. Be able to demonstrate that they are on track to meet a near-term reduction target and minimise cumulative emissions over the target period; and
  4. Demonstrate support for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Throughout the development of the Claims Code, VCMI collaborated with other major initiatives driving corporate climate action, including the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM), the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Read more: Uncovering the impact of Scope 3 emissions

When used with integrity,VCMs can accelerate climate mitigation and contribute significantly to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The VCMI Claims Code plays a crucial role in providing clear and transparent guidance to companies seeking to utilise carbon credits voluntarily. By preventing abusive use and greenwashing, the Claims Code ensures integrity in the VCM, making it a powerful tool in achieving a net-zero world.

Allister Furey, CEO and co-founder of Sylvera, praised the Claims Code as a solid step towards resolving confusion and uncertainty surrounding climate action claims, enhancing transparency in overall climate action.

While acknowledging that more work needs to be done and that carbon credits are not a panacea, the Claims Code serves as a valuable starting point for entities looking to utilise carbon credits effectively towards their climate goals. By adopting the Claims Code, companies can showcase their climate leadership, mitigate reputational risks, and position themselves effectively during the low-carbon transition.

Ultimately, combined with ICVCM's Core Carbon Principles, VCMI's Claims Code of Practice brings ‘end-to-end’ integrity, allowing for critical market development. 

Aligned with our vision, DGB Group supports the transformative potential of nature-based solutions in safeguarding and rejuvenating our precious natural environment. With a primary focus on pioneering initiatives in reforestation, afforestation, biodiversity restoration, and land revitalisation, DGB is dedicated to creating a positive impact. 

DGB empowers businesses, investors, and individuals to actively participate in preserving nature through the carbon market. Through our diverse range of carbon credit solutions, you can directly support reforestation efforts, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable land management. Together, we can shape a sustainable future and unlock the power of carbon markets.

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