What you need to know about the ICVCM and the first carbon credits with Core Carbon Principle labels

The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) is a non-profit governance body for the voluntary carbon market, aiming to ensure it accelerates a just transition to 1.5°C. It was established in 2021 to create trust in the market through establishing an industry-wide benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits, otherwise known as the Core Carbon Principles (CCPs).

The CCP label created by ICVCM is designed to help buyers identify carbon credits that meet rigorous standards for carbon credit quality. It enables comparability of credits and allows the voluntary carbon market to unlock significant private finance for climate solutions. The CCP label gives assurance that each credit represents a ton of emissions reduced or removed from the atmosphere, while also indicating that credits from new projects have robust social and environmental safeguards and deliver positive sustainable development impacts. The ICVCM highlights that companies should use CCP-labelled credits only as a supplement to, never instead of, deep value chain emissions cuts.

According to its two-tick approach, the ICVCM has announced the first CCP-eligible programs, and most recently in June, the first CCP-labelled methodologies. This means that the first CCP-labelled carbon credits are now available on the market. How does the two-tick approach for granting CCP labels work, and what programs and methodologies have been approved so far?

How does the ICVCM grant CCP labels?

The ICVCM has a two-tick approach to granting a CCP label, requiring both the programs certifying carbon credits, and the specific methodologies used, to receive acceptance. The ICVCM doesn’t carry out project-level assessments.

  1. First, the ICVCM evaluates carbon-crediting programs and designates them as “CCP-eligible” if they meet all the requirements. At program level, CCP criteria includes effective governance, transparency, tracking, and robust independent third-party validation and verification. There are also program-related rules on robust quantification of emission reductions and removals, no double counting, and sustainable development benefits and safeguards.
  2. Second, the ICVCM evaluates methodologies used for different types of carbon credits and assigns them as “CCP-approved.” To receive a CCP label, carbon-crediting programs need to ensure that the methodologies used to design and implement projects meet requirements such as additionality, permanence, robust and conservative measurement, and verification by independent experts.

Once both processes are complete, approved carbon credits can be sold with the CCP label through the program registries.

Approved programs and methodologies to date

To date, the ICVCM has designated five programs as eligible and is carrying out assessments of methodologies, having published the first methodologies that can be granted the CCP label in early June, 2024.

The five CCP-Eligible programs at the time of writing are: ACR, Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Gold Standard, and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), operated by Verra. These programs have a combined 98% market share of carbon credits. All of these programs updated some of their procedures to meet the high-integrity CCP criteria. Other carbon-crediting programs remain under assessment, while new ones are encouraged to apply.

In early June 2024, the ICVCM announced the first seven carbon-crediting methodologies that meet its high-integrity CCPs. These methodologies relate to capturing methane from landfill sites and destroying ozone-depleting foams and refrigerant gases from discarded equipment, such as refrigerators and air conditioners. The approved methodologies are under Verra, Gold Standard, ACR and CAR. Through this decision, an estimated 27 million carbon credits can now use the CCP label. The CCP-approved status of credits is either already visible or will soon be visible on the programs’ registries.

Assessments will continue through 2024, with another 27 categories of carbon credits, representing over 50% of the market, currently under active assessment. The results of assessment decisions are published as they are reached by the ICVCM, and the timing doesn’t represent a reflection of the relative integrity of different methodologies.

Looking to verify your carbon projects?

SustainCERT offers Verra Verification Services to ensure that projects meet Verra’s requirements before they can be issued carbon credits.

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