Friday, May 24, 2024

Largest carbon credit programme poised for quality label


PARIS: The world’s largest carbon credit programme Verra took a step toward working under a new quality standard aimed at helping rebuild confidence in the scandal-hit offsets market.
Verra was approved “after making significant changes to its procedures”, said the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), which governs this nonbinding label for the sector.
A Washington DC-based nonprofit organisation, Verra represents nearly 70 percent of the global voluntary carbon market, which is neither regulated by governments or a standard set of rules.
Credits are bought by companies seeking to offset the planet-heating emissions of their businesses, and major corporations have used them to make claims of carbon neutrality.
But revelations that some offsets — including ones sold by Verra — do little or nothing for the environment has sent the market into turmoil and prices crashing.
Verra has strongly denied the claims.
In a statement, ICVCM said that Verra and another organisation, ART, had met its “high integrity benchmark”, joining three other firms approved in April.
“Together these five programmes have a 98 percent share of the voluntary carbon market,” said ICVCM, which is independent and advised by an expert panel.
These programmes cannot issue credits under this new label until the methods used to generate offsets is approved in a separate assessment currently being undertaken by ICVCM.
This is an area of huge controversy, and one that will be closely watched, as some projects have been found to have greatly overstated the benefit for the climate.
A single credit represents one tonne of CO2 removed from the atmosphere or prevented from entering it, and projects in theory need to prove how this was achieved.
Credits are generated through projects that reduce or avoid emissions, such as by planting trees or protecting forests, and they need to show this would not have occurred without revenue from offsets.
But critics say many offsets are worthless at best and harmful at worst, allowing major polluters to claim they are carbon neutral while not reducing their actual greenhouse gas output.
In January 2023, Verra faced allegations that it approved millions of so-called “ghost credits”: offsets that did not represent genuine carbon reductions, a claim it strongly denied.
Verra’s founder and CEO of 15 years stood down in May 2023.

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