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The Biden-Harris Administration (the Administration) today released the Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) Joint Policy Statement and Principles (the Principles), along with an accompanying fact sheet (the Fact Sheet). The Principles represent the U.S. government’s affirmation that high-integrity VCMs can and should play a meaningful role in reducing and removing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support the objective of global net-zero emissions by 2050. The Principles support the Administration’s commitment to ensuring VCMs effectively channel private capital into innovative technological and nature-based solutions, while also protecting natural ecosystems and supporting the U.S. and international partners in achieving their climate objectives.   The Principles follow other key U.S. climate-related legislation and policies, including the Inflation Reduction Act (see our earlier bulletin here), climate adaptation and resilience plans for federal agencies (see our earlier bulletin here), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Principles for Net-Zero Financing and Investment, released last year, supporting the development and execution of strong net-zero commitments and transition plans by financial institutions, with a focus on Scope 3 financed and facilitated GHG emissions.   This bulletin briefly summarizes the Principles, their anticipated role in addressing climate change, and other ongoing U.S. government actions to support VCMs.    Principles for high-integrity VCMs. The Principles provide seven principles for high-integrity VCMs, drawing from existing best practices for credit certification standards, including the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the G7’s Principles for High-Integrity Carbon Markets, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s proposed guidance regarding the listing of voluntary carbon credit derivative contracts (December 2023), the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM) Core Carbon Principles (see our earlier bulletin here), and relevant decisions under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. The Principles are as follows: Carbon credits and the activities that generate them should meet credible atmospheric integrity standards and represent real decarbonization. Credit-generating activities should avoid environmental and social harm and should, where applicable, support…

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) yesterday published the Improved Forest Management on Private Land, Version 1.0 protocol (IFM Protocol) alongside the previously published protocols for Landfill Methane Recovery and Destruction and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Refrigeration Systems (see our earlier bulletin here). The IFM Protocol provides requirements for project implementation and the methodology for quantifying greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions from eligible IFM projects. Carbon offset credits generated under the Canadian Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System Regulations (the Regulations) from eligible projects can be used to comply with obligations under the federal Output-Based Pricing System or to meet voluntary climate targets or commitments.  The launch of the IFM Protocol follows British Columbia’s recently published revised Forest Carbon Offset Protocol 2.0 earlier this month, which, among other updates, now requires First Nation engagement and consultation on all projects (see our bulletin on the draft protocol here).  This bulletin briefly summarizes the IFM Protocol and provides updates regarding other protocols under development by ECCC.  The IFM Protocol Eligible projects under the IFM Protocol may register in Canada’s GHG Offset Credit System if the following conditions, among others, are met: Location. The project must be located in private forestland where carrying out forest management activities is legally permissible and is considered merchantable (“managed forestland”) in a province or territory in Canada. However, the IFM Protocol is also applicable to provincial and federal Crown lands where a First Nation has exclusive use and occupation. Baseline scenarios. Baseline scenarios may be updated during the crediting with a minimum of 5 years between updates. To determine the baseline scenario, proponents must follow a 3-step process set out in the IFM Protocol to determine regional and project-specific scenarios and the most conservative baseline scenarios between them. Eligible project activities. Project proponents may undertake any IFM activity that enhances carbon stocks within the project site relative to the baseline scenario. Eligible project activities include,…

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) today released a statement (the Statement) from the SBTi Board of Trustees announcing its decision to extend the use of environmental attribute certificates (EACs), including but not limited to EACs from voluntary carbon markets (i.e., carbon credits), for the purpose of abatement of Scope 3 related emissions beyond the current limits in its Corporate Net-Zero Standard (the Standard). SBTi noted that the use of EACs is an additional tool to address climate change when paired with policies, standards, and procedures based on scientific evidence. This bulletin briefly summarizes important aspects of the Statement. Expansion of EAC Use. SBTi plans to broaden the application of EACs for Scope 3 emissions abatement and intends to introduce definitions of specific “guardrails” and thresholds, as well as applicable rules, for such EACs to be considered valid for Scope 3 emissions abatement purposes and in line with “principles of mitigation hierarchy” — the principle that companies set science-based targets to address their value chain emissions and implement strategies to achieve these targets before actions or investments to mitigate emissions outside their value chain. Collaborative Framework Revision. SBTi indicated that it would consult, and seek cooperation agreements with, other relevant initiatives and stakeholders on revisions of the Scope 3 framework, which will include the responsible use of EACs in science-based target-setting. Carbon Credit Quality. SBTi does not intend to validate carbon credit quality and indicated that other entities are better positioned to assess the quality and integrity of carbon credits (an implicit reference to the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative and the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market). SBTi noted that such entities will have clear access to, and a complete understanding of, the demand-side guardrails and rules established by SBTi for the use of EACs. Accelerating Decarbonization. The SBTi indicated that the expanded use of EACs is…

The Government of Guyana and Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) have announced the world’s first carbon credits eligible for use under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). ART issued 7.14 million vintage 2021 carbon credits to Guyana under The REDD+ Environmental Excellence Standard (TREES), marking the first issuance of Paris Agreement correspondingly adjusted units reported to the UNFCCC. ART indicated that the credits will be eligible for the first phase of CORSIA (2024-2026), enabling airlines to use them towards their emission reduction targets under the program. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. ART indicated that the TREES credits were issued to Guyana for reducing emissions from forest loss and degradation and maintaining one of the world’s most intact tropical forests as part of a jurisdictional REDD+ program. In addition, the Government of Guyana authorized the credits to be used for a range of compliance and voluntary purposes pursuant Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. As such, Guyana’s authorization for the use of the credits and its reporting of a corresponding adjustment to the UNFCCC enabled ART to label the credits as “CORSIA Eligible” on its public registry. Guyana is now the first country in the world to report a corresponding adjustment to the UNFCCC as a result of its authorization for the international transfer of emission reduction credits or internationally transferred mitigation outcomes under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement.  CORSIA. CORSIA requires airlines from participating countries with annual emissions over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 to monitor and report their emissions. Airlines may use carbon credits to offset any remaining emissions that exceed a percentage of their 2019 baseline emissions. ART and the America Carbon Registry are currently the only crediting programs that have been approved by ICAO to supply credits for…

One of the leading voluntary carbon market standards, Verra, recently announced the launch of its “Project Tracker”, the first component of its digitalization initiative and the first functionality of the new Verra Project Hub. Verra also published an overview of the most recent updates to the Verra Registry. This bulletin briefly summarizes key information on the launch of the Project Tracker and important updates to the Verra Registry: Project Tracker and Project Hub Launch Verra’s Project Tracker provides stakeholders with increased information and visualization of project details including the status of each project in a bar diagram. This is intended to enable stakeholders to view project progress from initial listing to registration, validation, and verification. Verra indicated that the Project Tracker is linked to its customer relationship management platform, enabling automatic data synchronization. Verra noted that it intends to expand the Project Hub’s features to (i) facilitate the online submission of new projects for review, (ii) a digital assessment of a project’s non-permanence risk, and (iii) direct interaction with project auditors. Verra Registry Updates Announced updates to the Verra Registry include the following: New project status added. A new project status, “Pipeline Listing (Under Development) Approved”, has been added to the workflow for projects seeking registration in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. ERR Calculation Spreadsheet. A new document type specific to emission reductions and removals (ERR), titled “ERR Calculation Spreadsheet,” has been added to the drop-down list of available project document types. Locking of Account Setup Fields.The fields in the “My Account Setup” module for all Verra Registry accounts are now locked for editing after Verra has approved the account. Locking of Project Setup Fields.Once a submitted project is no longer under the status of “New,” the project’s setup page will be locked for editing. This applies to all Verra projects in any…