Last updated:
May 24, 2024

VCMI (Voluntary Carbon Market Initiative)

What is the VCMI (Voluntary Carbon Market Initiative)

The VCMI provides a Claims Code of Practice for the voluntary carbon market, enhancing transparency, clarity, and consistency in the use of carbon credits for corporate climate commitments. It aims to instil confidence among stakeholders such as companies looking to neutralise their carbon footprints, investors evaluating climate commitments, and governments shaping environmental policy. The initiative supports diverse groups by setting clear guidelines for validating carbon credit claims, thereby facilitating more informed and credible engagement with carbon markets.

How does the VCMI work?

The VCMI operates through a structured framework:

  1. Foundational Criteria: Companies must maintain a transparent inventory of GHG emissions, establish science-based reduction targets, and publicly commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
  2. Claims Tiers: The VCMI offers three tiers of claims:
    • Silver Claim: For companies retiring carbon credits covering 20-60% of their residual emissions.
    • Gold Claim: For retirement of credits covering 60-100% of residual emissions.
    • Platinum Claim: For credits exceeding 100% of residual emissions.
  3. Quality Assurance: All claims must adhere to standards set by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) and require third-party verification.

How does the VCMI relate to other frameworks?

The VCMI complements and intersects with several key frameworks in the sustainability and carbon market sphere:

  • SBTi (Science Based Targets initiative): Both the VCMI and SBTi encourage companies to set ambitious carbon reduction targets, but the SBTi focuses more on setting emissions reduction targets aligned with climate science, while VCMI focuses on the credible use of carbon credits to meet these targets.
  • ICVCM: The VCMI adheres to quality standards set by the ICVCM, ensuring that the carbon credits used meet high integrity and transparency standards.
  • Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting: The VCMI’s guidelines for carbon credit usage align with these principles, which advocate for responsible and transparent carbon offsetting as part of broader net-zero strategies.

What does the VCMI mean for sustainability managers?

For sustainability managers, the VCMI provides a clear and structured path to incorporate carbon credits into their sustainability strategies effectively. It helps in setting credible claims about carbon neutrality and net-zero achievements, ensuring these claims are substantiated through rigorous standards and third-party verification. The framework aids in navigating the complexities of voluntary carbon markets, making it easier for managers to plan, execute, and report on their sustainability commitments credibly.

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