On March 30, the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM), an independent governance body that aims to set and maintain a global standard for quality in the voluntary carbon market, announced the launch of its Core Carbon Principles. The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) are intended to establish fundamental principles for high-quality carbon credits that create a verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practice. On the same day, ICVCM also issued the Program-level Assessment Framework and the Assessment Procedures, both designed to assist carbon-crediting programs in verifying that such programs and the credits that they issue comply with the CCPs. Given the role that ICVCM has assumed in recent discussions concerning integrity in the voluntary carbon market (VCM), the CCPs and related Program-level Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedures are likely to draw significant attention from stakeholders at all stages of the VCM-supply chain.
ICVCM has divided the 10 CCPs into three overarching categories: Governance, Emissions Impact and Sustainable Development. The CCPs included in the Governance category are primarily directed towards establishing industry-standard verification and transparency practices for carbon-crediting programs. The CCPs included in the Emissions Impact category center on ensuring the permanence of the GHG emissions reductions underlying carbon credits, and that such reductions would not have occurred without the incentive created by the carbon credit revenues (commonly referred to as “additionality”). The CCPs in the Sustainable Development category aim to make certain that carbon-crediting programs adopt guidance, tools and compliance procedures to ensure that mitigation activities deliver positive sustainable development impacts and avoid locking-in levels of GHG emissions or practices that are incompatible with the goal of achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050.
The Assessment Framework sets out the detailed criteria ICVCM will use to assess whether carbon-crediting programs and categories of carbon credits (such as forestry projects) meet the requirements of the CCPs. The Assessment Procedure establishes the process for carbon-crediting programs to be assessed as “CCP-Eligible”, and for categories of carbon credits to be assessed as “CCP-Approved”. Once carbon-crediting programs have been approved as CCP-Eligible, they will have the ability to apply the CCP label to credits of a CCP-Approved category that they determine meet the requisite criteria.
ICVCM’s publication of the CCPs comes after it received over 350 submissions from a range of organizations, including carbon-crediting programs, project developers and investors, academics, NGOs, and local communities, during the 60-day public consultation regarding ICVCM’s draft CCPs, which closed on September 27, 2022. ICVCM announced that the initial assessment phase for carbon-crediting programs and categories of carbon credits will launch around mid-year 2023, and that it expects to begin revealing carbon-crediting programs that are CCP-Eligible and carbon credit categories that are CCP-Approved in the third quarter of 2023. IVCVM will announce the approval of additional carbon-crediting programs and carbon credit categories eligible under the CCPs on a rolling basis thereafter.