Today, the voluntary carbon market (VCM) is scaling up climate finance and channeling it to places that traditional financing wouldn't otherwise reach. It is a nascent market, acting in a space that governments are yet to properly or adequately serve. For this reason, and just like any other market in the world, the VCM and the projects that issue verified carbon credits have faced natural cycles of heightened scrutiny.
South Pole deems this process not just as normal, but essential, for the voluntary carbon market to reach full maturity. We believe that a liquid and well-regulated voluntary carbon market can help deliver climate action on an even greater scale. This will not be the first nor last time that the market or market leaders will have to make a case for themselves, and South Pole is proud to have expertly done so over many years.
While we welcome scrutiny of the VCM and take it very seriously. We do not, however, accept exaggerated and misleading reporting.
We strongly refute misleading statements around “over-issuances" of verified carbon credits from one of our flagship climate action projects, the Kariba REDD+ forest protection project:
Many of the challenges related to REDD+ project development that have been “sensationalized" in the media are in fact not news to us, and our teams have already been working on analyzing our projects, to further improve project development, among many other areas, over the past year – in line with how technologies, data availability, science, and best practices & methodologies evolve. This includes scrutinizing and refining our own quality control and due diligence frameworks (which we apply on top of the requirements of standards bodies), as well as our project selection criteria, to name but a few. For example, South Pole applies a set of project selection criteria on top of the requirements of ICROA-approved standards to ensure, for instance, the additionality of our projects and these criteria get updated regularly.
Because the Kariba REDD+ project was one of the first to use Verra's first ever REDD methodology, we are the first – but certainly not the last – to undergo a REDD+ project revalidation. So while there are clear rules and requirements in place for all of this, it is still new territory for the whole market. We appreciate that the complexity of these projects makes them hard to understand and easy to criticize.
In the meantime, we continue to transparently share all of our own lessons learned in the past decade, so others can learn from our approach. We have also put forth simplified principles for what we believe is the credible use of carbon credits as part of corporate climate strategies, amplifying best practice grounded in science, and building on the work of many credible initiatives, such as the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMi), among many others.
As always, we remain open to dialogue and we believe in the importance of transparency. If you have any questions, technical or otherwise, please do get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The total volume of verified carbon credits from Kariba REDD+ is around 36 million tonnes throughout its first 10-year crediting period (01.07.2011-30.06.2021). This excludes buffer credits that are withheld upon credit issuance, mandated by the standard, in order to hedge against the risk of the sequestered carbon being re-emitted into the atmosphere (by wildfires or deforestation, for example).