As part of COP28, seven EU countries (the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Finland, Belgium, and Austria) have published joint recommendations to improve the integrity of the voluntary carbon market (VCM). These guidelines aim to ensure full transparency, high-quality carbon credits, and credible claims. They provide a framework for companies to make strategic decisions on their climate commitments in line with the Paris Agreement.
We at ClimatePartner firmly support this declaration and are convinced that the voluntary climate action commitment of companies and the VCM are indispensable to achieve the necessary momentum. In order to come close to the global 1.5 °C target, ambitious targets and measures are needed for a verifiable and continuous emissions reduction along the entire value chain of companies and beyond.
As a driving player in the market, we are committed to providing companies with the best possible support in developing and implementing holistic climate action strategies – with our expertise and the necessary tools. We remain convinced that net zero can become a reality. Achieving this goal is what drives us every day.
Back in April, we committed to a new climate action solution, meeting the demand for greater transparency and higher standards. Today, we are continuously working with our partners on new, sustainable solutions to actively shape the market for voluntary climate action. We are therefore calling for clear guidelines and adequate regulations in order to offer companies the necessary security for their commitment in the future. We also want to improve every day and are constantly evolving. To this end, we have found an approach that is already based on the recommendations in the joint statement:
"Calculate and publicly disclose all direct and indirect emissions, have a climate target in line with the Paris Agreement and a roadmap in place to reduce emissions."
ClimatePartner supports companies in making an active contribution to climate action and firmly anchoring it in their strategy with a solution combining software and consulting. The starting point for a holistic climate action strategy is always the calculation of the carbon footprint. This provides the basis for setting emissions reduction targets in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the demonstrable implementation of reduction measures in the company's own value chain. The complete inventory of scope 1 and 2 emissions sources as well as parts of scope 3 is already a mandatory component of "ClimatePartner certified". We further recommend that companies track their scope 3 emissions as comprehensively as possible. In the long term, we aim to make the complete determination of these indirect emissions a requirement for the label.
"Prioritise reduction of emissions across the value chain. Ensure that the use of carbon credits will supplement and not substitute or delay your own emissions reduction measures."
"ClimatePartner certified" makes emission reductions mandatory. Only once these have been demonstrably implemented and a company has also set itself long-term reduction targets do we provide additional support for the financing of climate projects for emissions that cannot yet be reduced. We are convinced that in order to achieve the necessary speed in climate action, we need two things immediately and simultaneously: internal reductions to the greatest possible extent, as well as support for climate projects outside the value chain. These projects contribute to accelerating global climate action efforts and to closing the current ambition gap to achieve the Paris Agreement goal.
"Formulate clear claims in response to the use of carbon credits, while providing sufficient details to avoid misleading consumers."
With the introduction of "ClimatePartner certified", we are also saying goodbye to the previous "carbon neutral" label. What remains is the intent that the label should create the greatest possible transparency for consumers. An individual climate ID page can be accessed via integrated ID tracking, through which users can find out more about the carbon footprint of a company or product and how it was calculated. They can see which emission reductions have already been achieved and which climate action goals are being pursued in concrete terms. You can also find out more about the climate projects that are being financed.
"Indicate whether credits are used towards the organisations’ climate goals (offsetting claim), or to contribute towards achieving climate goals in the host country (contribution claim)."
ClimatePartner is currently pursuing new approaches: in the future, the contribution claim approach could offer companies further opportunities to invest in climate action, beyond the connection with the calculated emissions of their carbon footprint. You can find out more about this here. We are actively committed to the formulation of uniform quality standards and definitions so that these new approaches can be regulated and implemented effectively. This also helps to ensure that companies can operate within a safe framework and consumers receive guidance.
"Buy high quality credits; ensure that the credits represent real, additional and permanent mitigation and leakage is prevented."
ClimatePartner is a member of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Accreditation (ICROA), a voluntary association of experts and companies that are committed to only supporting climate projects registered under trustworthy standards. Accordingly, ClimatePartner only includes projects in its portfolio that are registered with internationally recognised standards such as the VCS or Gold Standard. In order to be registered as a climate project under one of these standards, every project must fulfil four main criteria. These are: the aspect of additionality, the exclusion of double counting, permanence, and regular independent audits.
ClimatePartner also sees it as a responsibility to help improve and actively shape the market for climate projects. For example, we have established an additional due diligence process which, in addition to the ecological effectiveness of the climate projects, also reviews the social conditions on site beyond the established standards process. We continuously revise our project portfolio on this basis.
"Pay attention to the impact in the host country (environmental and social impacts, human rights, gender equality, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other local communities) and consider how purchase of carbon credits contributes to achieving sustainable development goals."
As we want to take climate action to a new level, our subsidiary ClimatePartner Impact develops high-quality, certified climate projects that go beyond pure decarbonisation targets and add measurable social and ecological benefits for the population and regions. ClimatePartner Impact has an extensive portfolio with a strong focus on nature-based solutions and projects with social impacts, such as reforestation, regenerative agriculture, and efficient cookstoves. These projects contribute to regional economic development, improving health, increasing biodiversity, and restoring ecosystems. In doing so, we are guided by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
"Be transparent and report annually in a publicly available report on the progress in achieving climate targets and the use of carbon credits."
We support our customers in communicating their overall climate action commitment. Customers who fulfil the five steps of our defined climate action journey can use the ClimatePartner certified label for their communication. Find out more here. We are convinced that we are providing important impetus and incentives with our solutions: we urgently need the voluntary commitment of companies to make progress on climate action.
We are also committed to imparting knowledge so that, for example, companies learn how they can strategically anchor climate action in their organisation and communicate their commitment to consumers in a comprehensible way. To this end, we have set up our own academy, where interested parties can receive free training on various topics relating to corporate climate action and communication.
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