“The only constant is change.” These words, ascribed to Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher who lived around 500 BC, have rarely rung as true for me as during the past year or two. During this time, we have seen quite a few shifts in the factors influencing climate action and sustainable development both at the national and international level. This newsletter is a reflection of how we here at Verra are continuing to adapt to these changes to ensure our frameworks deliver impacts.
Today, we are launching the second public consultation for Version 4 of the VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) Program. Releasing this version of the standard in the fall will help keep the program well-positioned to serve existing and emerging markets.
Also, during the last year, we have seen a number of exciting developments that are creating fertile ground for the integration of REDD+ projects into national REDD+ programs. To take advantage of these opportunities, we decided that the changes related to the nesting of REDD+ projects — originally envisioned as part of the Version 4 update — would be better addressed through updates to our Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) framework scheduled for later this year. This will ensure that VCS projects can be integrated into jurisdictional programs and are positioned to take advantage of emerging markets.
Several opportunities have evolved in the carbon offset market over the past few months. First, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced its Emissions Units Criteria (EUC) and has also listed the members of the Technical Advisory Body (TAB) for its Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). With this significant progress, we have reason to hope that the market will be live before long and look forward to submitting our application to be an approved program as soon as ICAO opens the process.
Second, a few countries are moving ahead with policies similar to Colombia’s innovative carbon tax, which is levied on fossil fuels and allows covered entities to use carbon offsets as an alternative to paying the tax. South Africa approved its long-awaited carbon tax bill, to be levied on greenhouse gas emissions from major emitters, just a few weeks ago, and Chile is now also debating the introduction of an offset mechanism as an alternative to its carbon tax. As in Colombia, these latter policy initiatives could result in the delivery of significant amounts of long-term finance, and would help build localized carbon markets.
To meet the increased demand for carbon offsets in the Colombian market, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Organismo Nacional de Acreditación de Colombia (ONAC), Colombia’s national accreditation entity, to collaborate on a new accreditation program for greenhouse gas (GHG) validation and verification bodies (VVBs) under the VCS Program. We also recently joined Asocarbono, a new Colombian organization which supports entities that develop sustainable development projects, produce and trade carbon credits.
Please scroll down to learn more about all these and other ways in which Verra’s standards are driving progress in the areas of climate action and sustainable development. Happy reading!
David Antonioli, CEO, Verra
VCS Version 4 – Second Public Consultation Now Open
We are pleased to announce that the second public consultation for VCS Version 4 is now open. It is a follow-up to the more than 300 comments submitted by more than 50 organizations during our May 2018 consultation. Since the 2018 consultation, we have been analyzing your feedback, engaging in dozens of follow-up conversations, monitoring developments in the wider policy space and, ultimately, determining next steps for Version 4.
Similar to the 2018 consultation, this second consultation is guided by a Consultation Roadmap, which sets out the catalog of proposals subject to consultation. For each proposal, we have prepared an individual consultation document which summarizes the main points of feedback received during the first consultation; indicates whether, how and why the proposal has been updated from the 2018 version; and, where appropriate, explains how the proposal would be incorporated into the content of the VCS rules.
We have designed the consultation to facilitate your review of those proposals most relevant to your work, although we invite you to review and respond to as many proposals as you’re able. The consultation will run for 60 days and after the consultation, we’ll use your input to finalize and release the content of VCS Version 4.
Please provide comments in any form, including via email or by preparing formal documents, and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, please let us know, if you have any questions as you engage in this consultation. Thank you very much for the time taken to submit comments on the first consultation — we appreciate your input. We also look forward to your feedback on this second round.
Update: VCS Program Advisory Group
Many thanks to the more than 50 of you who submitted applications (or your names for consideration) for the VCS Program Advisory Group. Unfortunately, we could not accommodate all of you and ended up selecting 16 individuals to join the Advisory Group. Please note, though, that one-third of the group’s membership will be up for selection each year, meaning we’ll be issuing another call for applications around this time next year. The current members of VCS Program Advisory Group can be found here.
The Advisory Group’s first call was held on 4 March, where members were given a preview of the second VCS Version 4 consultation and provided feedback on the indicative direction of each proposal.
Verra Now a Member of Asocarbono
Verra recently became a member of Asocarbono, the Colombian association of carbon market stakeholders. Asocarbono supports entities that develop sustainable development projects, produce and trade carbon credits, and/or ensure the environmental and social integrity of these projects. We hope that this new partnership will promote, strengthen and consolidate the Colombian carbon market, while also setting an example of what cooperation could look like for other Latin American countries that are advancing their national carbon markets. Read more in our news post here.
Verra Enters MOU with Organismo Nacional de Acreditación de Colombia (ONAC)
Colombia’s carbon tax regulation, which took effect in 2017, created an increased demand for carbon credits which resulted in a high number of new carbon offset projects and an increased need for independent, third-party auditors that can ensure the credibility of offset credits.
In response to this need, the Organismo Nacional de Acreditación de Colombia (ONAC) and Verra have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on a new accreditation program for greenhouse gas (GHG) validation and verification bodies (VVBs) under the VCS Program. This new accreditation program will serve as another pathway for VVBs to be recognized under the VCS Program, in addition to the programs offered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).
The development of more local VVBs in Colombia, and Latin America in general, should result in project developers having greater options when looking for VVBs to undertake audits of their projects. Click here to learn more.
SD VISta Launch Webinar – Recording Now Available
At the beginning of the year, Verra launched the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta for short), which will help drive finance to projects that demonstrate sustainable development benefits. On February 12, we held a launch webinar that provided a succinct overview of this new standard. The recording of this webinar, as well as other information about SD VISta, is available here.
First SD VISta VVBs Approved
On the back of the launch of the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) two months ago, Verra is pleased to announce that we have approved the first validation and verification bodies (VVBs) under this program. To be approved, VVBs must provide evidence of accreditation under an international assessment standard as well as competency in one or more of the SD VISta sectoral scopes. The list of approved VVBs can be found on the Verra website here, and we welcome more organizations to apply to be an approved VVB.
VCS and CCB Projects Open for Public Comment
Five VCS projects, three VCS/CCB projects and three CCB projects are currently open for public comment.
The Pichacay Landfill Gas Renewable Energy Project in Ecuador recovers methane produced by municipal waste at the Pichacay landfill and delivers delivers electricity to the grid. The project is estimated to generate over 26,000 tCO2e in annual emission reductions.
The Conservation of Panama Forests is a grouped REDD project in an area that includes vast expanses of primary and secondary forest in Panama. Through various activities that prevent deforestation and unplanned degradation, this project is expected to generate emission reductions of over 14 million tCO2e annually.
The Guangxi Fusui Qiquan Biomass Power Generation Project is expected to produce electricity from local surplus biomass, displacing about 260,000 MWh of fossil fuel-based electricity every year and generating emission reductions of more than 117,000 tCO2e annually.
The Bundled Renewable Energy Project in Gujarat and Karnataka in India involves the installation and operation of two Wind Turbine Generators (WTGs) and is expected to reduce emissions by almost 12,000 tCO2e every year.
The Thangarabalu Small Hydel Project at Karnataka in India is a run-of-river 24.75 MW hydropower project across the river Krishna which will displace 65 million kWh of fossil fuel-based electricity each year, reducing emissions by almost 54,000 tCO2e annually.
The Project REDD+ of the Alto Huayabamba Concession Conservation in the San Martín region in northern Peru will conserve the concession’s montane forests to protect their exceptional biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide, while also improving the living conditions of the communities that depend on these forests. The project is expected to prevent the emission of more than 52,000 tCO2e per year.
The HIMA (Hifadhi ya Misitu ya Asili ya jamii) REDD+ Programlocated on the Zanzibar islands of Pemba and Unguja in Tanzania will work to develop and strengthen the capacity of Community Forest Management Areas to manage existing forests resources by addressing key drivers of deforestation in the region, for example, fuelwood gathering for household use and charcoal production, or timber extraction for the construction of boats and buildings. The project will work to strengthen land tenure and forest governance; reduce fuelwood/charcoal demand and consumption through fuel-efficient stoves; promote Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) of forests, among other things. The estimated annual emission reductions of this project amount to 244,000 tCO2e.
The Envira Amazonia Project – A Tropical Forest Conservation Project in Acre, Brazil conserves tropical forest by mitigating deforestation pressures in the region. The main focus of the project is to develop social programs that generate alternative sustainable economic opportunities that do not rely on forest resources for community members living in the vicinity of the project area. During the monitoring period from 01 January 2016 – 31 December 2018, the project reduced emissions from deforestation by almost 5 million tCO2e and continued to implement initiatives to improve community health. The project is currently undergoing its third verification to the CCB Standards.
As part of the project Restoring a Legacy at Red River National Wildlife Refuge, the Conservation Fund purchased an area of 182 acres of private, marginal agricultural land within the boundary of the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in northern Louisiana. The project has planted native species to restore the entire acreage to its native bottomland hardwood forest habitat for the purposes of increased carbon sequestration. In addition, the project is creating long-term community benefits in the form of recreational lands under the management of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, environmental education and environmental interpretation.
The Empresas Publicas de Medellin REDD+ Project in Colombia works to protect and restore natural forests in the Department of Antioquia, Colombia through improved monitoring and surveillance, planting of trees, promotion of reforestation for timber and firewood, silviculture, sustainable agroforestry or silvopasture, a cook stove program, environmental education, and the introduction of a biological corridor.
As part of the project Restoring a Forest Legacy at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, the Conservation Fund is restoring 1,445 acres of marginal land within the boundary of the “Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge” in Linn County in eastern Kansas. The newly restored native bottomland hardwood forest is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure its long-term protection and stewardship. This project contributes to decreasing the effects of climate change via carbon sequestration, restores Kansas’ bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem and creates long-term community benefits in the form of improved recreational lands under the management of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, environmental education and environmental interpretation.
ClimateSeed: New Opportunity to Spread the Word about Your Carbon Project
Are you looking for new opportunities to spread the word about your carbon project? If so, you might be interested in a webinar offered by ClimateSeed. Backed by BNP Paribas, ClimateSeed is a centralized digital marketplace that aims to connect project developers to organizations and corporations interested in offsetting their unavoidable carbon emissions. It offers a secure platform for project developers to market their projects at a fair price.
On May 2 at 8 am and 3 pm UTC/GMT (please use this tool to determine the corresponding time for your time location) ClimateSeed will be hosting a webinar where you can learn more about this opportunity. You can register for this webinar here for the 8 am time and here for the 3 pm time.
Women’s Empowerment Activities in VCS Projects: Survey for Developers (*Ending Soon!)
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN) manages the W+ Standard to help companies and project developers measure their impact on women’s lives and incentivize higher levels of resources for women engaged in supply chains and projects. The W+ Standard allows projects to assess if their work in this area is advancing the Sustainable Development Goals; it can be added as a label to VCUs.
WOCAN has released a short survey that aims to better understand whether and how project developers include and measure women’s empowerment activities in their projects. If you would like to complete this brief survey, you can find it here.
*Please note that the deadline for this survey is just a few days away, on Monday, 15 April 2019.