The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (Integrity Council or ICVCM) is an independent governance body for the voluntary carbon market (VCM). Its purpose is to ensure that the VCM accelerates progress toward the objective of combatting climate change. To achieve this, the Integrity Council has established a global standard for carbon credit quality in March, 2023. This standard is called the Core Carbon Principles (CCPs).
The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) are put into practice through the Assessment Framework, which establishes strict criteria and decision-making tools for each principle. Carbon credits will only receive the CCP label if both the carbon-crediting program that issued them and the credit category are assessed by the Integrity Council and meet the Council’s criteria for high integrity (in terms of climate, environmental, and social impacts).
Core Carbon Priciples
There are 10 Core Carbon Principles in three spheres:
- Effective governance The carbon-crediting program shall have effective program governance to ensure transparency, accountability, continuous improvement, and the overall quality of carbon credits.
- Tracking The carbon-crediting program shall operate or make use of a registry to uniquely identify, record, and track mitigation activities and carbon credits issued to ensure that credits can be identified securely and unambiguously.
- Transparency The carbon-crediting program shall provide comprehensive and transparent information on all credited mitigation activities. The information shall be publicly available in electronic format and shall be accessible to non-specialized audiences, to enable scrutiny of mitigation activities.
- Robust independent third-party validation and verification The carbon-crediting program shall have program-level requirements for robust independent third-party validation and verification of mitigation activities.
- Emissions Impact
- Additionality The greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be additional, i.e., they would not have occurred in the absence of the incentive created by carbon credit revenues.
- Permanence The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be permanent or, where there is a risk of reversal, there shall be measures in place to address those risks and compensate reversals.
- Robust quantification of emission reductions and removals The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall be robustly quantified, based on conservative approaches, completeness, and scientific methods.
- No double counting The GHG emission reductions or removals from the mitigation activity shall not be double counted, i.e., they shall only be counted once towards achieving mitigation targets or goals. Double counting covers double issuance, double claiming, and double use.
- Sustainable Development
- Sustainable development benefits and safeguards 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.
- Contribution toward net zero transition The mitigation activity shall avoid locking-in levels of GHG emissions, technologies, or carbon-intensive practices that are incompatible with the objective of achieving net zero GHG emissions by mid-century.
The Impact of Core Carbon Principles on the Voluntary Carbon Market
Building trust in the voluntary carbon market
The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) will help to build trust in the voluntary carbon market by providing a clear and transparent benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits. This will make it easier for buyers to identify and price carbon credits, regardless of where they are generated or who issued them. This will also help to reduce market fragmentation and ensure that capital is directed towards the most impactful projects.
Investing in impactful projects
The CCPs will help to ensure that carbon credits are invested in projects that have a real and positive impact on climate change. This includes projects that reduce emissions, protect and restore forests, and promote sustainable development. The CCPs will also help to ensure that these projects are benefiting local communities and indigenous peoples.
An ambitious – but achievable – benchmark
The CCPs are an ambitious but achievable benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits. The Integrity Council has established a pathway for continuous improvement, so that the CCPs can be further strengthened over time. This will help to ensure that the voluntary carbon market is playing a meaningful role in addressing climate change.