May 18, 2024
Carbon Verification

Carbon Verification: Ensuring Credibility in Climate Action

What is Carbon Verification?

Carbon verification refers to the process of independently evaluating a company or project’s claimed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions or removals to determine their accuracy. This evaluation is conducted by an accredited third party according to established carbon accounting standards and protocols.

Setting the Baseline

The first step in Carbon Verification is establishing an emissions baseline. This involves quantifying the GHG emissions from all relevant sources associated with a company or project’s pre-mitigation operations or scenario. Emissions sources typically include those from direct operations as well as indirect sources like purchased electricity, transportation, waste disposal, and others. Establishing an accurate baseline allows verifiers to properly assess the scale of subsequent emissions reductions.

Accounting for Emissions Sources

A full GHG inventory following the applicable carbon accounting standard is required. All material emission sources within the project or organizational boundary must be identified, categorized by scope, and have supporting activity data and relevant emission factors applied to quantify them in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Emissions sources often omitted or miscalculated must be scrutinized. Verifiers will check the methodology, data sources, calculations, and documentation trail.


Evaluating Mitigation Measures

Once the GHG inventory establishing the baseline is verified, carbon verification  shift focus to the emissions mitigation measures implemented. They evaluate the design, implementation, and operation of projects, technologies, or practices aimed at reducing emissions. Supporting evidence like equipment specifications, monitoring data, invoices, and more must prove the measures generated the reported reductions. Potential leakage outside the project or organizational boundary is also investigated.

Confirming Calculated Reductions

Armed with verified baseline and project activity data, verifiers recalculate the reported emissions reductions. They check the calculations, factors, and methods used according to the relevant protocol. Any discrepancies between the reported and verifier-calculated figures must be addressed and justified. This step is critical for providing confidence in the scale and credibility of claimed reductions.

Issuing Verification Statements and Reports

Upon successful completion and resolution of any non-conformances, verifiers issue formal verification statements or reports. These documents ascertain that the GHG assertions were verified in accordance with the applicable standard and represent a fair and accurate account of the emissions for the scope and timeframe. However, verification does not guarantee reported reductions but rather provides credibility and transparency in climate action and carbon markets.

Addressing Non-Conformances

In some cases, the verification process may uncover inaccuracies, omissions, or non-conformances with the relevant standard. Examples include errors in calculations, incomplete documentation of methodology changes over time, or failure to account for all emissions sources. Verifiers work with the client to understand discrepancies, determine root causes, and agree reasonable corrective actions. Verification can only be successfully completed once non-conformances are appropriately addressed.

Periodic Recertification

Given that emissions profiles and mitigation activities evolve over time, carbon verification is not a one-off exercise. Most reporting programs require annual or periodic re-verification to maintain certification of baseline and monitoring periods. This ensures continued credibility, credibility of reported performance, and that best practices are upheld if the carbon market value of emission reductions are being formally recognized.

Third-Party Oversight

To ensure consistency and environmental integrity, verification bodies themselves must also be accredited and their work quality assured. For carbon offset projects and programs, this function is fulfilled by independent accreditation bodies overseen by intergovernmental frameworks like the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement. Rigorous competency and conflict of interest requirements for verifiers are set and monitored at this level.

Providing Credibility in Climate Action

Third-party carbon verification plays a vital role in climate change mitigation. It supports credibility and transparency in GHG reporting and carbon trading while driving continual improvement. Through independent and rigorous evaluation, verification gives confidence that emission reductions from projects, programs and organizations represent real, measurable and additional environmental benefits, fulfilling their role in climate action and decarbonization of the global economy.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it