An overview of approaches

Ensuring safeguards and assessing sustainable development impacts in the voluntary carbon market

The voluntary carbon market (VCM) has been growing considerably in recent years and demand for carbon credits will likely continue to increase in the future. Projects in the VCM can have considerable impacts beyond the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These impacts have gained more and more attention over the last few years. Increasingly, buyers of carbon credits want to ensure that projects do not cause harm and have wider positive impacts.

This paper provides an overview of how carbon crediting programs and complementary standards in the VCM address impacts of projects beyond climate change mitigation. It shows that the evaluated programs and standards differ considerably in how they ensure environmental and social safeguards and assess positive and negative sustainable development impacts.The paper identifies several areas in which their requirements could be improved.