What does 'high integrity carbon credit' mean?

2 minutes to read
2024.02.15. 14:46

When purchasing carbon credits to offset their emissions, emitters can choose from various options. Carbon credits are available for lower and higher prices, and their price point generally reflects their quality. Those not just looking for an administrative fix in their ESG reports, might opt for more expensive, high integrity carbon credits. These credits are originated from projects that play a significant role in climate action - buying these credits means investing in operations that has a measurable impact in mitigating GHG emissions.

Core Carbon Principles

The Integrity Council of the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) defined 10 Core Carbon Principles (CCP) - or requirements, regarding the eligibility of projects to originate high integrity carbon credits.

The principles are grouped into the following three categories: emissions impact, governance and sustainable development. (Although the acronym is similar, these categories are not to be mistaken for the ESG categories!)

ICVCM Infographic of the CCPs dark blue backround and white text

Emissions impact

Emissions impact refers to the way a project mitigates greenhouse gas emission. Here ICVCM doesn’t differentiate between removing, reducing, or avoiding emissions, the emphasis is on transparency and reliability.

Additionality refers to the fact the project occured especially to generate carbon credits, meaning an original intent of aligning with the requirements of the VCM. Permanence means the project should be permanent and irreversible. Robust quantification and the avoidance of double counting means that the origination process should be backed up with reliable, transparent data, and the same unit of reduced or removed emissions shouldn’t be accounted in more than one projects. 


The criteria listed in the governance category is for ensuring the integrity of these projects. This element is especially important as the Voluntary Carbon Market is still in the process of achiving global approval next to the local compliance markets. Third party validation and verification is are tools to reach this goal, as is transparency and tranceability too.

Sustainable development

The third, Sustainable development category refers to compliance with the already existing sustainable frameworks and global goals of climate action. The ICVCM puts a heightened emphasis on that the projects should be forward thinking and represent technological advancement, thus avoid the locking-in of outdated practices.

There is plenty of doubts or even mistrust around the Voluntary Carbon Market, and we hope to eliminate fears by discussing not just it’s ethos, but the specific practices through which the VCM filters out fraud projects. We are also striving for transparency about our protected know-how - you can take a look at our certification issued by the Hungarian Green Cross here (at the bottom of the page).


Source of the article and the infographic:



Cover image:

Matthias Heyde