The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has issued new guidance for organizations buying carbon credits with the intent to offset their footprint, specifically for Scope 3.
VCMI has announced it has reduced some of their thresholds and floated a new claim concept that would enable carbon credits to be credibly used to meet a portion of an organization’s overall value chain emissions targets. The objective is that this new guidance will foster new private sector climate ambition and enhance the credibility of voluntary carbon credit buying.
Using the VCMI’s Carbon Integrity Claims branding, companies are able to make Silver, Gold, or Platinum claims to demonstrate their positive climate actions through the purchase of carbon credits to offset what they can’t currently reduce. This certification is contingent on meeting initial Foundational Criteria, which include a mixture of emissions disclosure, setting validated science-based targets, demonstrating progress toward these targets, and public advocacy.
The amendment to this framework comes as some companies stated difficulty in meeting their Scope 3 requirements, specifically within their science-based target goals.
This is slightly lower from the initial qualification within the framework announced in June which required 20-60% for Silver, 60-100% for Gold, and at least 100% for Platinum.
The objective of reducing the minimum threshold for Silver from 20% to 10% is to incentivize more companies to take climate action and it would increase the number of companies eligible for this claim by around 30%, based on the number of companies that have declared emissions targets to date.
VCMI also unveiled the Scope 3 Flexibility Claim to drive climate action on corporate pathways to net zero. The new claim permits a company to make limited use of high-quality carbon credits to close the gap between its estimated Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target level and its current Scope 3 emissions in a given year, as long as it has already taken other steps to reduce its current emissions. To ensure the claim is not used as an excuse to reduce decarbonization efforts, the Scope 3 Flexibility Claim includes guardrails limiting the total use of carbon credits to 50% of Scope 3 emissions, and only up until 2035.
VCMI’s Scope 3 Flexibility Claim is designed to be accessible to a greater number of corporates than – and provide a pathway to obtaining – the Carbon Integrity Silver, Gold, and Platinum Claims, because it allows companies to only offset a portion of its Scope 3 emissions versus having to offset a portion of all of its scopes (1, 2, and 3). The purpose is to act as an ‘on ramp’ for companies to take action versus thinking it is too difficult to meet the Silver claim threshold and taking no action instead.