Press Release: Delivering on the Paris Agreement – Roadmap launched to ensure voluntary carbon markets play credible role

Friday 29 October 2021, London: Ahead of COP26, VCMI (the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative) has laid out an action plan to ensure voluntary carbon markets play a credible role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement temperature goal and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Voluntary carbon markets enable companies to invest in and purchase carbon credits from activities that reduce or remove CO2 emissions as part of their climate strategies – currently, companies can use these credits to compensate for their greenhouse gas footprint and make climate action claims such as “net zero” or “climate neutral”.

The VCMI Roadmap, published today, sets out the steps VCMI will take to enable voluntary carbon markets that are inclusive and lead to increased ambition on climate change. Core to VCMI’s approach is addressing whether and how businesses’ use of carbon credits can be truly above and beyond and not displace or delay science-based action on decarbonisation. These carbon credits must be underpinned by high-integrity projects that benefit local communities and Indigenous Peoples – supporting sustainable development and aligned with national climate priorities.

VCMI takes the view that voluntary carbon markets could be an important source of additional finance for global climate action. However, the use of carbon credits cannot distract from, or replace, private sector action on decarbonisation – if unresolved, this could undermine the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The Roadmap, compiled with input from a range of stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and businesses, and informed by the feedback from VCMI’s Consultation Report released in July, sets out to tackle this problem, and ensure carbon credits are used above and beyond ambitious government policies and targets, and deep private sector decarbonisation. The Roadmap sets forth the critical issues VCMI will address, including:

  • Ensuring private sector climate action claims, like “climate neutral” and “net zero”, represent credible, science-based action on decarbonisation from production to consumption.
  • Bringing transparency to climate action claims based on carbon credits – including, through guidelines for businesses, regular reporting on progress on use of carbon credits.
  • Determining the balance between reduction and removal carbon credits and ascertaining how this balance should change over time.
  • Preventing double counting and claiming of carbon credits.
  • Ensuring inclusion of the rights and voices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities that host carbon credit projects.
  • Assessing how voluntary carbon markets should and could align with the regulatory environment and any future Article 6 rulebook agreed in the UNFCCC negotiations. Action will be taken forward in collaboration with global climate action leaders from governments and civil society – and in consultation with businesses demonstrating leadership on climate action.

Action will be taken forward in collaboration with global climate action leaders from governments and civil society – and in consultation with businesses demonstrating leadership on climate action.

Rachel Kyte, Co-Chair, VCMI, said:

“Voluntary carbon markets can play a credible and critical role in global climate action, if we can establish guardrails that ensure they are truly additional to real action on private sector decarbonisation. “The VCMI Roadmap lays out an ambitious and rapid action plan to build voluntary carbon markets that channel vital finance to climate action, while not distracting from or delaying decarbonisation of our global economy. I am proud and excited that VCMI will be taking forward this essential work.”

Tariye Gbadegesin, Co-Chair, VCMI, said:

“Right now, protecting and restoring nature is core to achieving global net zero – if additional to decarbonisation, channelling private sector finance into these projects can be vital.

“This means we must ensure that the voices and rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples that host projects are strongly protected by guidelines and governance. The VCMI Roadmap will tackle this issue head on and I look forward to driving this work forward.”

This year, VCMI launched a consultation with stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, Indigenous Peoples’ groups, governments, and others to gather views on how carbon credits can be voluntarily used and claimed by businesses as part of credible net zero strategies.

52 organisations, including 22 businesses and 19 NGOs, responded to the consultation – and were supportive of VCMI’s vision and principles. The results of the consultation make clear that:

  • Supporting businesses in their engagement with voluntary carbon markets and guiding private sector investment in carbon credits is critical to ensure equity for host countries, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples.
  • Building capacity is key to ensuring that a wide range of countries, in particular emerging markets and developing economies, are able to benefit from voluntary carbon markets.
  • Aligning claims guidance with the need to limit future warming to 1.5C is imperative.
  • Accounting and reporting on business claims based on carbon credits must be underpinned by agreed frameworks.
  • Aligning claims guidance with regulation and governance mechanisms should align with Article 6 rules agreed in the UNFCCC negotiations.


To view the Roadmap, consultation response, and further information on VCMI, please visit our website here:

The roadmap will go live on 0001 Friday 29 October.

Media contact

Hannah Butler
+44 7570 597071

About VCMI

VCMI was launched this year with co-funding by the UK Government and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, supported by the UK COP26 Presidency and United Nations Development Programme. The move was welcomed by civil society and business groups, and governments including Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Germany, Kenya, United States of America, and two Mexican states.

About Meridian Institute

Meridian Institute is a mission-driven, non-profit consultancy that has helped our clients and partners develop and implement solutions to complex challenges—big and small, global, and local—for over two decades. We focus on five key services: collaboration, implementation, strategy, research, and philanthropic support. We bring our skills to bear on a diverse range of issues, including climate change, environment and natural resources, agriculture and food systems, forests, health, oceans and coasts, resilience, science and technology, and water. Across issues, boundaries, and systems, our work is a catalyst for powerful impact.

About CIFF

CIFF is an independent philanthropic organisation, with offices in Addis Ababa, Beijing, London, Nairobi and New Delhi. CIFF works with a wide range of partners to transform the lives of children and adolescents.

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