Government guidance and unfolding regulation pave the way for companies to make VCMI Claims

Many global political, business, and civil society leaders voiced support for high-integrity voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) during COP28. The UK Government stated it intends to endorse the outputs of the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) and the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM); the US Commodities Regulator’s (CFTC) proposed guidance for high-integrity voluntary carbon market derivative contracts is linked closely to ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles. At a presidential event moderated by VCMI Co-Chair Tariye Gbadegesin, governments of the US, Indonesia, the UK, and Singapore, alongside the UNFCCC and World Bank, reiterated the importance of carbon markets as a key finance channel to move private sector investment to nature and technology projects at the scale and pace we need. 

The message from governments globally is clear: high-integrity voluntary carbon markets are an important part of the climate solution.  

Support for high-integrity voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) is also strong in the EU, demonstrated by governments of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Finland, Belgium, and Austria joining up to provide clarity on credible climate claims based on the use of carbon credits. The joint statement adds welcome detail to existing government guidance, such as the G7 principles of High Integrity Carbon Markets and the Call to action for Paris-aligned Carbon Markets, which aim to boost integrity in the VCM and support the achievement of Paris Agreement goals.

The statement also complements evolving EU regulation linked to claims made using carbon credits, such as the Empowering Consumers Directive passed by members of the European Parliament last week. The EU’s legislative reforms are designed to prevent greenwashing and place integrity at the heart of Europe’s green transition. Alongside VCMI’s Claims guidance, this package presents corporates with a clear pathway to transparent and credible claims, incentivizing and rewarding environmental performance whilst eliminating greenwashing.    

The joint statement, EU legislation, and other advances highlighted at COP28 provide a clear call-to-action for corporates globally: set science-aligned net zero targets, take action now to ensure progress against them, and purchase carbon credits to demonstrate greater climate ambition in addition to meeting targets.  

VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice (Claims Code) provides a framework for companies to do exactly that: restore trust in VCMs. The Claims Code brings transparency and credibility to climate claims that involve the use of high-quality carbon credits. Register your interest in making a Carbon Integrity Claim and get recognized for accelerating global net zero here.

Annex 1: Policy breakdown – Companies can meet the recommendations set out in the EU Governments’ joint statement by making a VCMI Carbon Integrity Claim. 

As demonstrated in the table below, fundamental demand-side integrity principles underpinning the process of making a VCMI Carbon Integrity Claim mirror the recommendations in the Joint Statement for organizations making climate claims based on the use of carbon credits.

EU Governments’ Joint Statement on VCM: The Claims Side Recommendations  Compatible with VCMI Carbon Integrity Claims?  Explanation   Relevant Claims Code Text 
1) Calculate and publicly disclose all direct and indirect emissions, have a climate target in line with the Paris Agreement and a roadmap in place to reduce emissions.  


To make a Carbon Integrity Claim, companies must publicly disclose a greenhouse gas emissions inventory including direct and indirect emissions. They must set and publicly disclose science-aligned near-term emissions reduction targets, also publicly committing to reaching net zero emissions no later than 2050.  Claims Code of Practice, Step 1, pp. 19-21 
2) Prioritise reduction of emissions across the value chain. Ensure that the use of carbon credits will supplement and not substitute or delay your own emissions reduction measures.  


  VCMI’s Claims Code makes clear that organizations must prioritize emissions reductions across the value chain.

By mandating that claimants have set and are making progress toward meeting interim emissions reduction targets, Carbon Integrity Claims do not allow carbon credits to substitute for or delay internal emissions reductions.  

Claims Code of Practice, Step 2, pp. 25-26 
3) Formulate clear claims in response to the use of carbon credits, while providing sufficient details to avoid misleading consumers.  


  VCMI provides the first set of standardized Claims around how companies are using carbon credits through its ‘Carbon Integrity’ Claim.

By displaying the Carbon Integrity mark, a company demonstrates it is “accelerating global net zero.” This encapsulates the commitment of an organization to swiftly driving the world towards achieving net zero emissions, taking action above and beyond progress on science-aligned targets. 

Companies that successfully make a Carbon Integrity Claim will receive a QR code that can be displayed alongside the mark, linking to information regarding how carbon credits are used to make a Carbon Integrity Claim and what the claim means.  

VCMI also provides communications guidance to prevent misleading use of the claims.  

Supplementary Guidance, pp. 3-5 
4) Indicate whether credits are used towards the organisations’ climate goals (offsetting claim), or to contribute towards achieving climate goals in the host country (contribution claim). 


N.B. the Joint Statement states that for offsetting claims, a corresponding adjustment is done by the host country to avoid double claiming of carbon credit. A corresponding adjustment is where the government hosting the project adjusts its international accounting so the mitigation outcome is not double-counted. 

  Corresponding adjustments are not required to make a Carbon Integrity Claim. However, corporates are required to publicly disclose whether the carbon credits they have purchased have been correspondingly adjusted.

VCMI’s Carbon Integrity Claims recommended tagline, ‘accelerating global net zero’, is closely aligned with what the joint statement considers a contribution claim, removing the possibility of double claiming.  

Claims Code of Practice, pp. 30 
5) Buy high quality credits; ensure that the credits represent real, additional, and permanent mitigation and leakage is prevented.  


  The VCMI Claims Code mandates that organizations purchase ICVCM Core Carbon Principle (CCP)-aligned credits. The CCPs provide a global benchmark for high quality carbon credits that buyers can be confident are real, additional, and contribute to permanent mitigation, with leakage prevented.  Claims Code of Practice, pp. 29-30 
6) Pay attention to the impact in the host country (environmental and social impacts, human rights, gender equality, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other local communities) and consider how purchase of carbon credits contributes to achieving sustainable development goals. 


ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principle 9 focuses on sustainable development benefits and safeguards, requiring that “the carbon-crediting program shall have clear guidance, tools and compliance procedures to ensure mitigation activities conform with or go beyond widely established industry best practices on social and environmental safeguards while delivering positive sustainable development impacts.”  Claims Code of Practice, pp. 31 
7) Be transparent and report annually in a publicly available report on the progress in achieving climate targets and the use of carbon credits.  Transparency is a fundamental principle of VCMI’s work. To make a Carbon Integrity Claim, a company must follow VCMI’s Monitoring, Reporting, and Assurance (MRA) framework. This requires public disclosure of the company’s progress towards targets and use of carbon credits. A Carbon Integrity Claim mark includes the claim year to encourage organizations to report and publicly disclose progress annually.   Claims Code of Practice, pp. 33 


MRA Framework 

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