The Core Carbon Principles Explained
The global response to climate change and the urgent need to transition to a more sustainable economy has led to the creation of several task forces focused on scaling voluntary carbon markets and nature-related financial disclosures.
In this article we highlight the CCP’s – Core Carbon Principles developed by The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM). The idea is to create a global benchmark to ensure integrity in the Voluntary Carbon Market.
What are the Core Carbon Principles?
The 10 CCPs correspond with three key areas:
- Project governance
- Impact of carbon credits on emissions reduction
- How credits support sustainable development in the region where they are implemented
The CCPs stipulate that carbon project developers operate in a transparent and accountable manner. This ensures that carbon credits resulting from these projects are of the highest quality.
- Recording and tracking the impact of issued credits on a tamper-proof registry
- Making this data transparent and available to non-specialist audiences for scrutiny and review
- Having robust program-level goals and pathways that can be validated and verified by independent bodies
Impact of carbon credits on emissions reduction
There are four key characteristics essential to carbon credits having an effective climate impact:
Additionality- A tonne of CO2 is considered additional if the resulting avoidance or removal of carbon would not have occurred without carbon credit revenue. This is hugely important as if a credit is non-additional, it has no impact on reducing or removing carbon from the atmosphere, making any resulting claim false.
Permanence- While the carbon reduced or removed by a credit should ideally stay out of the atmosphere for 100,000s of years, permanence is commonly considered as 100 years into the future.
Robust quantification of emission reductions and removals- Project developers claim that a certain amount of carbon will be reduced or removed by their project. This amount needs to be calculated correctly.
No double counting- This is particularly important in relation to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, where a country’s carbon credits could count towards their national contribution to the Paris Agreement or be sold on the voluntary carbon market. Carbon tokens recorded on open blockchains can help with double-counting issues and bring transparency to an opaque market.
By defining standardized criteria, the CCPs will be key in allowing carbon markets to scale with integrity. They will also give private organizations and individuals confidence that the carbon credits they use to compensate for unavoidable emissions are aligned with meaningful climate action.
The Integrity Council will review and revise the CCPs every 2 years to ensure continuous improvement.
Finally, the CCPs define that carbon projects should directly deliver sustainability co-benefits. Projects, therefore, need to focus on tackling the Sustainable Development Goals, which include climate action as well as gender equality, economic growth, access to clean energy, and biodiversity.