Major global initiative aims to improve integrity of voluntary carbon markets

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative aims to help ensure credibility concerns are addressed so these markets fulfil their potential to support the goals of the Paris climate agreement and the net zero transition

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A major global initiative that will focus on improving the integrity and transparency of voluntary carbon markets has been launched.

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI), launched with co-funding by the UK Government and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, aims to help ensure credibility concerns are addressed so these markets fulfil their potential to support the goals of the Paris climate agreement and the net zero transition.

Voluntary carbon markets enable companies to purchase carbon credits from activities that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions.

The VCMI, supported by the COP26 Presidency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will initially focus on how businesses can make climate claims – such as net zero and carbon neutral – that are robust and underpinned by science-based action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It will also support private sector climate action by developing guidance on the use of carbon credits and transparency claims and support countries to access climate finance by working with governments and UNDP.

VCMI Co-Chair Rachel Kyte said: “The science is clear – we must keep global warming below 1.5C. Voluntary carbon markets may play an important role in channelling finance to the protection and restoration of nature, when transparent and based on a common and agreed framework of integrity.

“VCMI is an important multi-stakeholder effort to build a working consensus around how we assure the integrity of voluntary markets so that they lead to reductions emissions and support aggressive countries’ climate ambitions. The issue of integrity is an essential piece of the foundation of the new architecture of climate co-operation.”

Alok Sharma, COP26 President-Designate added the initiative will bring clarity and integrity to voluntary carbon markets and their operations.

He said: “A robust voluntary carbon market can incentivise emissions reductions, encourage technology innovation and promote reforestation while also helping to raise finance to tackle climate change.

“I urge all governments, businesses, civil society organisations and Indigenous Peoples to engage as fully as possible with VCMI’s work. Together, let’s build our resilience, drive down global emissions and keep 1.5 degrees alive.”