A recent attention-grabbing report by the Guardian, Die Zeit and SourceMaterial claimed that “more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest certifier are worthless“. This prompted a swift detailed rebuttal by Verra – the world’s largest certifier of offsets and the organization subject to the criticism – who argued that the Guardian’s reporting contained “numerous falsehoods and distortions” and asserted that the studies cited in the related analysis were “not appropriate for avoided deforestation projects funded by carbon credits” and that the reporting had used “selective data and views to produce one-sided grandiose and sensational headlines“. Verra also offered a “fact-check” for the “most significant errors” in the Guardian’s reporting. In what may be a conciliatory move, the Guardian subsequently published a letter that offered a point and counterpoint discussion of avoided deforestation credits.
While this type of controversy is not unusual for avoided deforestation credits1 – which have long faced criticism for both the lack of additionality (namely, the determination of the baseline for the avoided deforestation and the demonstration of the ‘threat’ of actual deforestation to be avoided) and the difficulty of related measurement and verification of an activity not actually taken – this public attention is both timely and important, as various international standard setters are currently considering additional requirements and guidance to provide greater integrity to the voluntary credit market (“VCM“). he value of the VCM is reported to be around US$2 billion at year-end 20222, grew over 160% from the prior year and is projected to grow 10-fold by 2030.
In light of this anticipated expansion in the VCM, there have been, and will continue to be, several developments to the VCM governance frameworks. We set out some of the recent related developments below.
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