Gold Standard has submitted its response to the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM) consultation on its draft Core Carbon Principles, Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedure.
- Gold Standard responds to ICVCM consultation on the last day.
- Overall it signals approval of the approach but highlights necessary changes – many of which are similar to Verra in content if not in tone.
- Clearer standardisation and alignment with mandatory markets under the Paris Agreement could transform the carbon markets.
While Verra was clearly opposed to the approach taken by the ICVCM, it seemed at first glance that the Gold Standard understood the verifiers concern, admitting, “The role of crediting standards is not an easy one, and it will not be made easier by the introduction of a new governance body and the rigorous requirements proposed by the IC-VCM. “
Voluntary carbon markets need to build trust
Yet overall Gold Standard seems to approve of the approach being taken. As its statement points out, carbon credits are not a tangible asset that can be held and examined. Rather: “They are instruments based on trust: trust in the rigour of a standard’s procedures and requirements, of a project developer’s monitoring and activity, and a verifier’s due diligence, all which are complex and difficult for non-experts to understand.”
That being the case, Gold Standard has put its not inconsiderable weight and reputation behind the ICVCM’s proposals. Its’ statement said: “Gold Standard welcomes the proposals put forward by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM) as a positive step towards achieving [growth based on firm foundations of quality and integrity].”
In also said: “We increasingly see the importance of the IC-VCM to ensure high standards and provide a benchmark for quality across the market, and to shine a spotlight on entities issuing credits that do not meet this benchmark. We do not have time for the trust of those willing to invest to be shaken by standards and methodologies that fall short of where we should be.”
There are some quibbles with elements of the ICVCM’s approach
A closer looks at some of its comments on the proposals shows that it has some similar concerns to Verra, even if it has chosen to take an entirely different approach in how they are communicated.
Areas that need to be addressed include ways in which the right balance can be struck between rigour on the part of the IC-VCM’s through its framework, and flexibility for standards to innovate, to move quickly, and to improve and simplify rules and procedures. It points out, like Verra, that some of the requirements of the proposal are not necessarily directly relevant to the integrity of the carbon credit.
Similarly to Verra, Gold Standard pointed out the importance of working with a multiplicity of stakeholders, and building on standards and processes that already exist. It also flagged the resource intensity of the new proposals and suggested the option of grandfathering in earlier projects, as well as options for minimising the burden for those least able to bear it.
What was particularly interesting in its response to the proposal was the focus on aligning the voluntary carbon markets with the frameworks for mandatory markets under the Paris Agreement. Now that Article 6 has finally been agreed, there is an existing framework that could provide a relatively easy next step in credibility for the voluntary markets.
Overall Gold Standard welcomed the proposal, especially in terms of aligning with a net zero target and suggested that the ICVCM go beyond considering technology compatibility with a 2050 net zero goal. In fact it suggests that the ICVCM should establish a dynamic ‘negative list’ of technologies/mitigation activities that are “deemed incompatible with the net-zero emission goal. This should take into account regional differences where appropriate, and be reassessed and updated regularly, for instance every five years.”
The tone of Gold Standard’s response to the ICVCM proposals was very different to that of Verra, despite the two being the world’s largest verifiers of carbon credits. How the ICVCM chooses to respond over the next few months should prove interesting to watch.