New carbon offset standard aims for transparency
LONDON (Reuters) - A new standard for carbon emission offsets launched on Monday seeks to increase transparency and quality assurance in the unregulated voluntary market.
The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), one of several sets of international guidelines introduced recently, aims to certify the validity of voluntary offsets, or VERs, bought by consumers and corporations seeking to reduce their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, or 'carbon footprint'.
The slew of new standards come after allegations of fraud and double-counting amongst carbon offset venders sent shockwaves through the carbon market earlier this year.
"The VCS means business and consumer buyers can now trust the offsets they buy," Mark Kenber, policy director for environmental consultants The Climate Group, said in a statement.
"Its robust quality assurance will trigger a new global confidence in the voluntary market from corporate buyers, consumers and policy makers."
The standard, endorsed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), guarantees permanent emissions reductions that have been independently verified and incorporates a registry that prevents vendors from selling the same offsets twice.
The VCS was developed after a two-year consultation including The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Assocation (IETA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
"While the main action must be in regulatory approaches, voluntary actions and offsets have an important role to play, and the VCS will provide them with necessary credibility," IETA President Andrei Marcu said.
(Reporting by Michael Szabo;)