Google, Unilever and Hitachi unite in claims of carbon credits

Several businesses including Google, Unilever and Hitachi are to road-test a new Provisional Claims Code of Practice, aimed at bringing integrity to corporate claims made about voluntary use of carbon credits.

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Initiative’s (VCMI) Provisional Code, which offers recognition to both company-wide climate achievements and the performance of an individual brand or product, will categorise climate claims made by businesses into either VCMI Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

Other businesses that have committed to reaching net zero have also been invited to join the programme.

The Code will for the first time provide companies with a globally standardised benchmark for the voluntary use of carbon credits. The benchmarks set claims in the context of progress made against the achievement of a company’s long-term net-zero commitment, plus additional use of carbon credits to go above their internal decarbonisation goals.

The Code will now be put out to public consultation and tested by businesses over the remainder of the year, with the next version, expected to be released late 2022/early 2023, enabling companies to use it to support their claims.

VCMI will also partner with target setting, accounting and reporting bodies to ensure consistency with emerging standards and provide a coherent framework for businesses looking to showcase their climate achievements.

The move comes as more businesses are setting climate targets and making claims such as “net-zero” and “carbon neutral”, but also as claims of ‘greenwashing’ grow and there is a risk that a lack of clarity about what these commitments and claims mean could hinder truly additional climate action and undermine confidence in the voluntary carbon market and wider corporate action.

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