Global Witness joins the Climate Land Ambition & Rights Alliance (CLARA) in calling into question the integrity of the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative’s (VCMI) Provisional Claims Code of Practice. 

The draft Code was designed to provide guidance to companies and other actors on when they can credibly use voluntary carbon markets in their net zero commitments and ensure the credibility of these claims. 

However, citing serious concerns, the open letter calls attention to critical failures of the initiative which itself risks becoming a ‘high quality’ greenwashing exercise.  The letter notes that existing plans to scale the voluntary carbon market are a fundamentally flawed response to the climate crisis and risks global temperatures rising above the 1.5C target set out in the Paris Agreement. Only claims by entities taking action in line with a real 1.5C pathway AND making significant additional contributions to global mitigation efforts deserve recognition. Noting the moral and ethical failures of the VCMI, the letter highlights the inequities that are inherent to the offset market; where companies and their consumers of the global North continue to appropriate the lands and ecosystems of the global South. The letter also criticises the VCMI’s failure to address a fundamental problem underlying the voluntary carbon market- it assumes that avoided emissions or emissions reductions can balance out current emissions, which science tells us is simply not the case. 

Integrity requires bravely identifying the scale of the challenge ahead and naming the actions we must all take to address that challenge. The path to global net zero will require the mobilization of finance that should not be linked to fanciful plans to offset emissions. 

By creating a false sense of integrity, this initiative doubles as a distraction and risks forestalling the mandatory and enforceable standards on decarbonization, redesign of our industrial processes and lower levels of consumption that are urgently needed.