Fresh drive to boost credibility of voluntary carbon markets


The UK is backing a new global drive to boost "rigour and transparency" in the voluntary carbon market, in a bid to ensure corporate offetting practices are aligned with global climate goals.

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI), launched last week with co-funding from the UK government and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, is aimed at helping to build a more robust voluntary carbon market, which is expected to boom over the coming decade as growing numbers of businesses look towards investing in carbon offsetting projects in pursuit of net zero targets.

In a statement, the group said it planned to address "credibility concerns" surrounding carbon offset markets and close a "number of critical gaps in voluntary carbon market integrity". It also said initiative was aimed at ensuring the market contributes to capping global temperature rise at 1.5C, the more stretching target set out in the Paris Agreement.

VCMI co-chair Rachel Kyte, former UN Secretary General for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, said the world needed to rapidly move away from voluntary carbon markets that were "vulnerable to misuse and misinterpretation" as the business transition to a net zero economy gathered pace.

"VCMI represents a turning point in private sector climate action," she added. "We will work together to establish rigorous and transparent voluntary carbon markets - which incentivise meaningful climate action by businesses. Action that is underpinned by deep and rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, and credible climate change science."

The VCMI confirmed it aimed to collaborate with various other initiatives working in the space, including the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets - a rule-making group comprised of hundreds of financiers, business leaders, commodities traders, scientists, and NGOs set up late last year by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney - as well as corporate climate standards body the Science-Based Targets initiative.