Environmental NGOs Call for Strengthened Carbon Credit Standards in Corporate Net-Zero Targets

Aerial of forest
Pine Forest An aerial of a forest in Sierra Nevada. © Max Moser

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In a letter to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), some of the world’s most influential environmental non-governmental organizations (eNGOs) have supported the limited use of high-quality carbon credits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that a company is indirectly responsible for in its value chain (scope 3 emissions abatement). In the letter, the American Forest Foundation, Conservation International, the Environmental Defense Fund, Fauna & Flora International, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society called for the adoption of robust guardrails for carbon credits within the forthcoming revision of the Corporate Net-Zero Standard. The first updates on the use of carbon credits are expected in July. 

In the letter, the eNGOs shared the following key principles for carbon credit use in Scope 3 emissions abatement:

  1. Quality Assurance: The eNGOs emphasize that only high-quality carbon credits should be included in net-zero strategies. The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM) plays a pivotal role in ensuring this quality benchmark through its Core Carbon Principles (CCPs).
  2. Mitigation Hierarchy: Companies employing carbon credits for scope 3 abatement must rigorously prioritize direct abatement of internal and value chain emissions, with credits reserved for emissions that are not readily abatable.
  3. Timely Finance and Reduction: Carbon credits used for scope 3 abatement should drive immediate climate progress. Over time, reliance on carbon credits must decrease as technology advancements enable direct emissions reductions.
  4. Beyond Value Chain Mitigation (BVCM): According to the eNGOs, it is crucial that climate leaders continue their commitment to net-zero even beyond meeting annual progress targets.
  5. Alignment around a High-Integrity Framework: Close collaboration and alignment with other voluntary standards, especially the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI), is essential to guide the appropriate use of carbon credits.

Scientific Evidence and Collaboration

The eNGOs stress that with proper science- and evidence-based guardrails, carbon credits will speed, not hinder, climate progress at a global scale. In the letter they call for collaboration with the scientific community as SBTi considers responsible inclusion of carbon credits in its standards. Key areas of focus include leveraging credits for maximum climate impact, evaluating hard-to-abate corporate emissions, and establishing methodologies to track progress toward net-zero targets.

“We are offering our support and we urge SBTi for increased transparency and inclusion in the revision process moving forward, considering the high stakes at play,” said Cam Moore, Managing Director of Global Carbon Markets for The Nature Conservancy.


Click Here to Read and Download the Full Letter

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.