VCMI Claims Code of Practice

The VCMI Claims Code of Practice will build a broad sense of trust and confidence in how companies engage with VCMs. It provides them with a rulebook on credible use of high-quality carbon credits, and associated climate claims, that will accelerate climate action.

About the Claims Code

This VCMI Claims Code of Practice is a rulebook for companies on credible use of high-quality carbon credits on the path to net zero. It also tells them what they can credibly claim about this use.

This rulebook is essential to ensure the integrity of voluntary carbon markets and therefore their ability to make a meaningful contribution to the goal of the Paris Agreement, while also at the same time contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Developed through a global, multi-stakeholder collaborative process, the Claims Code builds on the Provisional Claims Code released by VCMI in June 2022. It expands on requirements of other leading climate change initiatives, including the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition’s (CPLC) Report of the Task Force on Net Zero Goals and Carbon Pricing; the full suite of Science Based Target initiative’s (SBTi) target setting guidance and standard; Gold Standard’s Scope 3 Value Chain Interventions Guidance; The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting; the UNSG’s HLEG; and the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard.

The content of the Claims Code is driven by VCMI’s Principles for High Ambition and High Integrity Voluntary Climate Action by Companies.

The Claims Code represents the collective judgment of VCMI’s Steering Committee, VCMI’s high-level decision-making body, and has been developed under the guidance and advice received from VCMI’s Expert Advisory Group, as well as inputs received from broad multi-stakeholder engagement.

The primary purpose of the VCMI Claims Code of Practice is:

  • To provide clear requirements, recommendations and supporting guidance to companies and other non-state actors (NSAs) on how they can credibly make voluntary use of carbon credits as part of their near-term emissions reduction objectives, and long-term net zero commitments
  • To provide guidance on the associated claims they can make regarding the actions taken and use of those carbon credits

Who should use the Claims Code?

The Claims Code is for companies seeking to make credible voluntary use of carbon credits and receive recognition in the form of a VCMI Claim. VCMI also provides additional guidance on how companies can credibly structure other climate claims.

All VCMI Claims made using the Claims Code require companies to set clear science-based near-term emission reduction targets, and publicly commit to reaching net zero emissions no later than 2050, supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In addition, companies must purchase high-quality carbon credits representing emissions reductions and / or removals from outside the value chain of the company. As such, companies making VCMI Claims demonstrate their contribution to the collective global effort to reach net zero.

Equally, the Claims Code will help the following groups as a point of reference:

  • Individuals, businesses, and other buyers of goods and services seeking to make climate-friendly purchases;
  • Investors and other stakeholders who want to judge the credibility of companies’ climate ambitions and actions, including use of carbon credits alongside broader decarbonization efforts;
  • Governments and their regulatory agencies considering how to incentivize companies to use carbon credits credibly and structure claims to be truthful, clear and informative, through government-developed or endorsed corporate reporting requirements, advertising and consumer protection standards and other policies, measures, or guidance.

Claims Code Additional Modules

The Claims Code will be supported by additional modules released in November 2023, which will expand on the Claims Code released in June, increasing its sophistication and application for specific use-cases.

These will outline further guidance and recommendations for companies, as well as offer insights flowing from the analytical research VCMI will be conducting for the remaining part of 2023.

Modules will include:

  • The publishing of the VCMI Measurement, Reporting and Assurance (MRA) framework or assurance process, meaning companies will be able to make a VCMI Claim by late 2023, once the assurance framework is complete.
  • Finalized names and nomenclature for VCMI Claims.
  • Possible special provisions to promote accessibility of the VCMI Claims Code for companies, such as small and medium-sized enterprises, and non-state actors, that VCMI recognize may not find the Claims Code initially achievable.

None of the core content in the June version of the Claims Code will change. These additional modules will complement and build on what is already contained in the Claims Code, with an elaborated set of VCMI Claims tiers, additional supporting material, including a detailed Buyers Guide, and an operable MRA Framework.

Christiana Figueres Global Climate Leader, Costa Rica

“Congratulations to VCMI for the launch of the operable Claims Code of Practice – I would argue that operable is the operative word in the current, very stormy, emissions reduction landscape. At present, corporations that are pursuing climate actions find themselves in the crossfire between those who demand perfection overnight and accuse of greenwashing and those on the other side of the isle who attack the ESG and net-zero commitments – leading to intimidation and green hushing on the part of corporations. The path between the two is very difficult to forge. Increasing scrutiny has to be met with increasing credibility, especially in an unregulated market. Now, we all know that eventually the carbon market will have to become regulated. But in the meantime, it is heartening to see the seriousness with which integrity is being pursued by the VCMI.”

Ali D Mohamed Climate Change Envoy, Kenya

“Kenya welcomes VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice and its clear guidance to organizations on credible use of high-quality carbon credits, towards net zero commitments. As we aim to lead in the supply of these quality units, high demand side integrity will accelerate the flow of carbon finance to all our local communities and foster green economic growth. Our upcoming carbon market regulations will inspire significant investments into impactful voluntary carbon market activities, whilst ensuring strong governance and transparency. We believe the claims code will build trust and contribute to international cooperation towards the 1.5 degree goal.”

Hon. Bogolo Kenewendo Africa Director & Special Advisor, The Climate Change High-Level Champions

“Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome today’s launch of the VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice and I believe that this code has some very key elements that we need in providing further guidance on the foundational criteria and clarity that we need on exactly how it is that we can use carbon credits and how we can ensure that they remain aligned to the Paris Agreement and to our long term climate goals.

I think that this is very important that we understand exactly and build integrity in the market, because as we build integrity and quality in the market, we certainly will create a more energetic market that will have ripple effects towards the communities that are involved in building this carbon market that we are all hoping will not only be beneficial to the climate agenda, but to the sustainable development goals agenda. Thank you.”

The Rt Hon. Graham Stuart Minister of State for Energy Security & Net Zero

“The VCMI is delivering much needed clarity for organizations around the world, so that they can use carbon credits in a meaningful way and build the trust needed for the market to succeed.

Building on today’s launch of the Code of Practice, we will work closely with the VCMI, our international partners and the UK’s world-leading financial sector so we deliver a high integrity voluntary carbon market which accelerates the shift to net-zero on a global basis.”

Hiroshi Ono Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, Japan

“This May the G7 leaders endorse the principles of high integrity carbon markets which guide supply, demand and market infrastructure, to improve confidence in carbon markets.

We highly commend the VCMI Claims Code, which will operationalize the principles. Japan will support the development of high integrity carbon markets through the Article 6 implementation partnership.

We look forward to working together with VCMI.”

Ani Dasgupta President and CEO of World Resources Institute

“To meet our global climate and nature goals, we need companies to significantly increase investments outside of their value chains. VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice will begin to address this incentive gap. We hope that the coming years will see VCMI and others scale and direct necessary private sector finance towards activities that benefit people, nature, and climate.”

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