The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) has launched its Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) and Programme-Level Assessment Framework, aiming to set a new global standard for voluntary carbon markets. To get approval under the new framework, carbon credits will need to abide by “rigorous” standards on disclosure and sustainable development.

The CCPs establish fundamental principles for high-integrity voluntary carbon credits and the first edition of the Assessment Framework will provide criteria for assessing whether carbon-crediting programmes are CCP-eligible. 

Programmes will be required to publish comprehensive and transparent information so stakeholders can understand how projects issuing CCP-labelled carbon credits impact emissions, society and the environment. This includes information on how each project calculates and quantifies its emissions impact, and how it assesses additionality and social and environmental impacts. The issuer will need to share the spreadsheets each project uses to calculate its impact and communicate a baseline. 

Project developers must also assess the risks of any negative environmental and social impacts, articulate measures to mitigate those impacts and report on progress. These include impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities, biodiversity, pollution, human rights, labour rights and gender equality. These details will be included in validated design documents that programmes will be required to publish along with associated monitoring reports provided by projects.

The initial assessment phase for programmes will launch around mid-2023, with the first carbon credits becoming “CCP-approved” later this year.

“It’s clear we are not acting fast enough to address the climate crisis,” said Annette Nazareth, chair of the ICVCM, in a press statement. “We need every tool available working at full speed to secure a livable future and a high-integrity voluntary carbon market is one of those tools. Well-functioning markets and integrity are inextricably linked. Building a widely shared understanding of what high integrity means for carbon crediting programs and categories of carbon credits is a pre-condition for the development and growth of a viable and vibrant voluntary carbon market. 

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“The CCPs and programme-level criteria we are issuing today are an important step towards a transparent, regulated-like market where buyers can easily identify and price carbon credits that meet consistently high-integrity standards that will also increase ambition over time.”

The next version of the CCPs will be launched in 2025 and implemented in 2026. These will consider issues such as the implications of 'corresponding adjustments' under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, whether all carbon credit projects should make a contribution towards the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund and how to further strengthen the sustainable development requirements.