The European Union (“EU”) is coming closer to adopting mandatory rules for companies that use carbon credits.
- First, the European Parliament and Council are considering for adoption a Commission for a Regulation on a Carbon Removal Certification Framework (“CRCF Regulation Proposal”).
- Second, the European Commission (“Commission”) is in the process of adopting standards (the so-called “ESRS”) for the EU’s mandatory ESG reporting regime—the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”)—that will also cover disclosures on companies’ use of carbon credits (including as emission offsets) and their quality.
These two regulatory initiatives are closely tied to each other. In effect, the draft ESRS that the Commission is considering for adoption require subject entities to disclose GHG removals and GHG mitigation projects financed through carbon credits.
The EU’s aim of regulating carbon credits coincides with its push for carbon neutrality by 2050, and a related significant proliferation of companies publicly committing to achieve “net-zero” emissions by mid-century, which has triggered an uptick in strategic purchases of carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market (“VCM”). The CRCF Regulation Proposal and the upcoming ESRS will help to expand sustainable and verified carbon removals and encourage investment in technological innovation.
Companies turning to the VCM to reach their net zero goals, and others active in the generation, trading, and use of carbon credits, will want to follow these initiatives closely. Opportunities remain for companies to express views that may shape the final contours of these regulations.