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Introducing updated Claims Guidelines

A new era of climate action is being shaped by the global coverage of the Paris Agreement, carbon market growth, innovation and diversification, and welcome increases in climate commitments by companies and investors.

This prompts an evolution in claims. The goal is to continue to incentivise and recognise ambitious actors and to ensure claims are clear, credible and durable.

Gold Standard is pleased to now publish updated Claims Guidelines, where we outline new best practices for two key areas:

  1. The use of post-2020 carbon credits 
  2. Impact claims for investment in fund-level approaches  

Below we provide further context for the evolution of this guidance for both use cases.


The use of carbon credits

Our Claims Guidelines have been updated to support users in making informed and credible claims in this new era of climate action. They cover the different uses of carbon credits - for compliance, offsetting and to contribute to climate impact - and provide guidance for buyers on each of these uses. 

The guidelines also address the role of corresponding adjustments for carbon credits used in the voluntary carbon market, on which Gold Standard consulted in February 2021. On this issue, they give guidance that: 

  • Carbon market activities have the potential to displace other climate action that may be taken to meet a country’s national target under the Paris Agreement (its ‘NDC’), or a company’s Science Based Target. The potential for such displacement may be lower in certain scenarios, such as within NDCs that are conditional on international finance.
  • Such displacement could affect the accuracy of offsetting claims, as the net benefit to the atmosphere would be lower than that represented by the carbon credit. This can be addressed by using carbon credits authorised for use under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, as the host country will apply a 'corresponding adjustment' so as not to count the associated emission impact towards its NDC.
  • Non-offsetting claims, for instance a claim to contribute to global climate action, allow users to make reliable claims in cases where carbon credits may still be counted towards the NDC of a project's host country.

Gold Standard does not intend to introduce mandatory requirements on the application of corresponding adjustments for carbon credits used in the voluntary carbon market, but encourages users to carefully consider the guidance provided in these Claims Guidelines, as well as any requirements or guidance from relevant regulators.

These guidelines follow the recent publication of a provisional Code of Practice by the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity (VCMI) Initiative, which recommends that the use of carbon credits are claimed as a contribution to global mitigation efforts.  

To support diverse use cases and claims within the voluntary carbon market, Gold Standard continues work on two tracks:

  1. Build capacity for carbon credits authorised for use under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
    • Informed by our Expert Working Group on Alignment with the Paris Agreement, we will soon provide clarity on how targeted updates will be made in the coming years to align with Article 6 requirements, while minimising disruption for existing projects.
    • Our Impact Registry will shortly have the capability to identify credits that are authorised for use under Article 6, and to track information on their use.
    • Following a recent call for expressions of interest, work will soon get underway on technical support for early Article 6 activities, led by Perspectives Climate Group.
  2. Build broad understanding and demand for non-offsetting claims to support projects and credits that sit outside the Article 6 framework, in collaboration with partners and initiatives and through engagement with leading corporates.


Claims for Gold Standard Fund Requirements

Corporates and other investors are increasingly investing in, donating to and sponsoring green funds that are intended to contribute to climate mitigation and sustainable development outcomes at scale.

As regulatory and brand pressure on the private sector increases it is important to ensure that the claims made by funds managing portfolios of projects genuinely contribute to climate mitigation and sustainable development impacts.

In March 2022, Gold Standard issued draft Fund Requirements for certification to Gold Standard for the Global Goals to help fund managers ensure best practice SDG impact management, measurement and maximisation process in their investments.

The updated Claims Guidelines published today now also provide direction for fund managers in a way that incentivises and recognises investors delivering real impact while minimising the risk of greenwashing.

These guidelines feature claims at the process level for fund-level design certification as well as performance claims, which align with the emerging ‘non-offsetting’ claims for the use of carbon credits with their focus on impact claims. 


Important Note:

Gold Standard Claims Guidelines are intended to help users of carbon credits and fund managers make informed decisions about the claims they make to ensure accuracy, clarity, and credibility and to avoid risks of potentially inaccurate or misleading claims. While claims are ultimately up to the users’ discretion, it is important to understand and comply with any regulation or guidance within both the country hosting a project and the country in which public claims are made.


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