Regulators Learning From Voluntary Carbon Markets

/ Molly Peters-stanley

The global carbon markets began quietly in the late 1980s as part of a voluntary effort to save rainforests, but these small, voluntary efforts were quickly eclipsed – and often dismissed – when the Kyoto Protocol ushered in compliance markets a decade later.  Now, however, it’s the compliance markets that are turning to the voluntary markets for guidance as regulators and voluntary market players rush to meet halfway.

The global carbon markets began quietly in the late 1980s as part of a voluntary effort to save rainforests, but these small, voluntary efforts were quickly eclipsed – and often dismissed – when the Kyoto Protocol ushered in compliance markets a decade later.  Now, however, it’s the compliance markets that are turning to the voluntary markets for guidance as regulators and voluntary market players rush to meet halfway.

The newly-christened Verified Carbon Standard (VCS – formerly the “Voluntary Carbon Standard”) released its long-awaited program update, VCS Version 3, earlier this week; and anyone perusing it might easily miss the VCS’s underplayed announcement of what amounts to an all-star cast of members on its newest advisory committee.

If the list of committee participants doesn’t turn any heads, it should.

Selected from over 100 applicants, the VCS’ finalized Advisory Committee – tasked with strategic input and guidance around accounting for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) – includes a who’s who of conservation leaders from governments worldwide.

“The response was tremendous,” says VCS CEO David Antonioli, “which is great because it indicates that there’s this space in the market where people are totally engaged and keen to see something happen.”

VCS is not the first carbon standard to assemble a cross-sector coalition of advisors – see also the notable cast of the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Mexico Forest Project Protocol Workgroup or American Carbon Registry’s (ACR) freshly-anointed Advisory Council.

It is, however, yet another recent example of the emerging consensus around the technical aspects of offsetting emissions for both the compliance and voluntary markets – two realms that have not always been complementary.  

Ecosystem Marketplace examines the growing convergence of these two markets in Regulators Embrace Voluntary Carbon

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