A standard to assess cooperate’ claims about progress towards internal climate targets and their use of carbon offset credits was launched on June 28 by Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) aiming to bring transparency and confidence to an unregulated market.
Many companies have set net zero targets but acknowledge they will need to buy or generate carbon credits to offset emissions they are unable to remove from their operations.
The Claims Code of Practice launched by VCMI, backed by the British government, seeks to help investors establish whether claims made by firms using carbon offsets are credible.
Under the claims code, companies in all tiers need to make a public commitment to achieving science-based net zero targets by 2050 and set interim targets on how this will be done.
To be in the Platinum tier, companies must also buy and retire carbon credits to account for 100% of their remaining emissions, with Gold companies offsetting at least 60% and Silver companies at least 20%.
VCMI executive director Mark Kenber said the new standards were needed to help people better understand climate claims made by companies that often use a variety of terminology.
“There was so much use and misuse, if not abuse of terms like carbon neutral, climate neutral, net zero, net zero aligned, net zero positive etc,” Kenber said.
Offset credits are generated from projects like planting trees or changing to less polluting fuels.
Environmental groups are skeptical of their use, fearing they paper over a lack of action to achieve actual emissions cuts, and question the environmental integrity of some projects.
Kenber said companies would eventually need to use credits that have achieved standards being developed by The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), an independent governance body for the market.
These standards are expected by the end of the year and in the meantime, companies would be expected to use offsets meeting standards set under CORISA, the global airline industry carbon offsetting scheme.