The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program is the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas (GHG) crediting program. Individual projects and jurisdictional programs can be registered under the VCS Program.
Projects and Programs
All VCS projects and programs must complete a rigorous development and assessment process before registering with the VCS Program. Projects and programs registered in the VCS Program are issued unique carbon credits known as Verified Carbon Units or VCUs. Each VCU represents a reduction or removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) achieved by a project. VCS quality assurance principles ensure all VCUs represent GHG emission reductions or removals that are real, measurable, additional, permanent, independently verified, conservatively estimated, uniquely numbered and transparently listed.
VCUs can be labeled with certifications awarded by other, non-GHG programs that have been approved by VCS. These additional certifications typically represent community and biodiversity benefits achieved by projects, in addition to the climate benefits inherent in a VCU.
VCS projects implement a wide variety of activities that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions, improve livelihoods, and protect nature. Projects are categorized by their sectoral scope, ranging from waste handling and disposal projects (such as biochar projects) to land use projects (such as improved forest management projects).
The VCS rules and requirements also form the foundation for the Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) framework. REDD+ is reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The JNR framework is the world’s first integrated accounting and verification framework for jurisdictional REDD+ programs and nested projects. VCS jurisdictional and nested REDD+ programs are government-led strategies that harmonize emission reductions across national REDD+ programs as well as subnational and/or project activities.
Rules and Requirements
The VCS Program rules define the standards and processes that all projects must follow in order to be certified and are set out in a suite of documents: Requirements, Procedural, Templates, and Guidance.
These documents are updated periodically. Please check this page to ensure you are using the latest version of a given document.
Projects, activities, or methodologies can be developed under any of the 16 VCS sectoral scopes.
VCS methodologies set out detailed procedures for quantifying the real greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits of a project and provide guidance to help project developers determine project boundaries, set baselines, assess additionality, and ultimately quantify the GHG emissions that were reduced or removed.
Validation and Verification
An independent validation and verification process is critical to ensure the integrity of the projects registered in the VCS Program. Qualified, independent third-party auditors known as validation/verification bodies (VVBs) are tasked with assessing projects against the VCS Program rules and the requirements of the applied methodology.
The Verra Registry is the cornerstone for the implementation of Verra’s standards and programs. It facilitates the transparent listing of information on registered projects and projects pursuing registration, issued and retired units, and enables the trading of units. It is the central repository for all information and documentation relating to Verra projects and credits. The Verra Registry also ensures the uniqueness of projects and credits in the system.
The VCS in Compliance Markets
Certain compliance markets are accepting high-quality carbon credits issued by voluntary GHG crediting programs, including the VCS, to fulfill their respective emission reduction and/or removal requirements. Currently, the VCS Program is accepted into the compliance markets in Colombia and South Africa. The VCS Program is eligible to supply emission reduction units for compliance under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Governance and Development
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program is managed by Verra with the support of the VCS Program Advisory Group. Verra is committed to making certain that the VCS Program reflects the latest scientific research and is continually improved with respect to the consistency and accuracy of GHG emissions accounting.
For more information on the VCS Version 4 development process and program updates, see the Governance and Development page.
Complaints and Appeals Policy
Verra provides a Complaints and Appeals Policy that applies to all standards and programs managed by Verra.