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Carbon Credit Process

Process for reporting on carbon emissions

  1. Your initial report starts with defining your GHG assessment boundary
  2. Progress is assessed through the change in emissions from the base year
  3. Reporting must take place over regular intervals
  4. Verified third parties must conduct reporting and auditing

Carbon Credit Process

1. The Gold Standard

2. Verra (VCS Program)

3. Climate Action Reserve

4. Climate Active (NCOS)

5. Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs)

6. Verified Carbon Standard (VCU)

The Gold Standard

Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions featured the highest levels of environmental integrity and also contributed to sustainable development. With the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, we launched a best practice standard for climate and sustainable development interventions, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, to maximise impact, creating value for people around the world and the planet we share.


We seek to accelerate progress toward the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals through robust standards and verified impacts. We do so by reducing barriers to market entry, increasing capacity, and incentivising more action across three strategic pillars: environmental markets, corporate sustainability and climate + development finance. 

Environmental Markets

Strengthen environmental markets with more high-impact assets resulting in greater and higher quality supply and demand.

Corporate Sustainability

Increase action organisations take beyond their boundaries to shift to a Paris-compliant path.

Climate and Development Finance

Increase mobilisation of climate finance toward high integrity climate and development activities for national/subnational climate action.


By creating robust standards for climate and development interventions that enable the credible measurement of impact, Gold Standard aims to create $100 billion in shared value by 2030.


Gold Standard was founded on the principle that climate action cannot be one-dimensional – climate projects must deliver meaningful sustainable development benefits beyond emission reductions. The success of our approach has influenced both the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other voluntary standards to raise the bar and include sustainable development within some of their climate projects. This all helps deliver on our mission to catalyse more ambitious climate action to achieve the Global Goals.


Gold Standard-certified projects have created over $23.5 Billion in shared value for climate action + sustainable development.

Verra (VCS Program) - Standards for a Sustainable Future

Verra is a global leader helping to tackle the world’s most intractable environmental and social challenges by developing and managing standards that help the private sector, countries, and civil society achieve ambitious sustainable development and climate action goals.

Verra’s global standards and frameworks serve as linchpins for channeling finance towards high-impact activities that tackle some of the most pressing environmental issues of our day.

The Organization

Verra was founded in 2005 by environmental and business leaders who saw the need for greater quality assurance in voluntary carbon markets. We now serve as a secretariat for the various standards we develop and programs we manage, as well as an incubator of new ideas that can generate meaningful environmental and social value at scale. The strategic direction of Verra is set by both staff and the Verra Board of Directors. Our headquarters are in Washington, DC, and we have staff working remotely in various parts of the world. Verra is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and is registered as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC, USA).

Currently, Verra manages the following:

  • VCS Program. The VCS Program allows certified projects to turn their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and removals into tradable carbon credits. Since its launch in 2006, the VCS Program has grown into the world’s largest voluntary GHG program. VCS projects include dozens of technologies and measures which result in GHG emission reductions and removals, including forest and wetland conservation and restoration, agricultural land management, transport efficiency improvements, and many others. There are currently almost 1,600 registered projects in over 82 countries that have generated more than 450 million carbon credits, the equivalent of 98 million passenger vehicles being taken off the road for one year.
  • VCS Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) Framework. The JNR Framework is an accounting and crediting system for jurisdictional REDD+ programs and nested projects, designed for market mechanisms. It is a practical framework that provides guidance to national and subnational governments to support development of their REDD+ programs and help nest REDD+ projects within these programs, ensuring environmental integrity and jurisdictional sovereignty. This ensures that these projects support and align with governments’ efforts to achieve countries’ climate action goals, while driving finance to high impact mitigation. In 2020, Verra plans to release an updated version of the framework which will include more detailed guidance on nesting.
  • Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Program. With over one hundred registered projects, the CCB Program is the leading framework for assessing land management projects that create net-positive benefits for climate change mitigation, local communities and biodiversity. The CCB Program can be used in conjunction with a GHG-crediting program, such as the VCS Program, and carbon credits can be labeled with the co-benefits certified under the CCB Program. In total, projects certified to the CCB Program cover almost 11 million hectares.
  • Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta). The SD VISta Program is a flexible framework that sets out rules and criteria for the design, implementation and assessment of projects that aim to deliver high-impact sustainable development benefits. SD VISta enables projects to link their social and environmental impacts to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through certified claims or tradable assets such as health or water credits. The standard enables donors and investors to identify, support and help drive finance to activities that generate measurable sustainable development outcomes.
  • Verra California Offset Project Registry (OPR). The California OPR helps the California Air Resources Board (CARB) administer the Compliance Offset Program component of its cap-and-trade system. The OPR facilitates the listing and verification of GHG offset projects that were developed using CARB Offset Protocols and that issue Registry Offset Credits (ROCs). Entities covered by California’s cap-and-trade program can use compliance offset credits to satisfy a portion of their regulatory obligations.

Verra is also actively engaged in initiatives that will help to drive more investment in actions designed to protect the environment and promote sustainable development:

  • Initiative for Climate Action Transparency. ICAT aims to help countries assess the impacts of their climate actions and to support greater transparency, effectiveness, ambition and trust in climate policies. ICAT integrates methodological guidance, capacity building and knowledge sharing to strengthen the transparency and effectiveness of climate policies and actions worldwide. To this end, the initiative has developed a series of impact assessment guides and is also working with developing countries to strengthen their capacity to assess climate actions in the context of their Nationally Determined Contributions. To date, ICAT is working with 40 countries in four regions.
      • ICAT is a multi-donor fund that is managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). UNEP-DTU Partnership, Verra and World Resources Institute were the founding implementing partners. ICAT continues to be implemented by the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, UNEP-DTU Partnership, and the World Resources Institute.Verra was a founding member of the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) and led the core team that drafted the series of assessment guides and oversaw their application in the first case studies. Today Verra remains engaged with the initiative in an advisory role.

  • LandScale (LS). LandScale provides a standardized, yet adaptable, framework to track the outcomes of landscape or jurisdictional sustainability approaches and communicate those outcomes to commodity-buying companies, donors, and other external stakeholders, facilitating multistakeholder, cross-sector collaboration. LandScale enables users to obtain reliable information about the status of ecosystems, human well-being, governance, and productivity in a landscape and to determine the state and trajectory of its sustainability. LandScale assessments will help drive improvements in sustainability performance by informing locally relevant policies and management interventions, guiding sustainable sourcing and investment decisions, and spurring new market incentives for landscape sustainability.
      • LandScale is co-led by Verra, the Rainforest Alliance and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, in collaboration with a growing number of global partners. It is generously supported by the BHP Foundation and the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation & Nuclear Safety. 

  • The Plastic Waste Reduction Program (Plastic Program). The Plastic Program will support and scale up activities that increase plastic waste recycling and/or recovery from the environment. Using independent and transparent assessments against robust criteria, the program will drive finance to activities that make verifiable contributions to the circular economy. The program covers a broad range of impactful activities, such as waste recovery from the environment, including by waste pickers, creation of waste collection infrastructure and development of new recycling processes.
      • The Plastic Program is supported by the 3R Initiative, which Verra and BVRio established in 2019 with Conservation International, Danone, Lloyd’s Register,, Natural Capital Partners, Nestlé, South Pole, SYSTEMIQ, Tetra Pak and Veolia.

Climate Action Reserve

As the premier carbon offset registry for the North American carbon market, the Climate Action Reserve encourages action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by ensuring the environmental integrity and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects.

The Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies, issues carbon credits generated from such projects and tracks the transaction of credits over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.

The Reserve offsets program demonstrates that high-quality carbon offsets foster real reductions in GHG pollution, support activities that reduce local air pollution, spur growth in new green technologies and allow emission reduction goals to be met at lower cost.

The transparent processes, multi-stakeholder participation and rigorous standards of the Reserve help earn confidence that registered emissions reductions are real, additional, verifiable, enforceable and permanent. The Reserve’s expertise and insight helped inform the development of the State of California’s cap-and-trade program, which adopted four of the Reserve’s protocols for use in its regulation.

The Reserve began as the California Climate Action Registry, which was created by the State of California in 2001 to address climate change through voluntary calculation and public reporting of emissions. The California Registry helped over 415 leading California-based corporations, organizations, government agencies and municipalities to voluntarily calculate and publicly report their GHG emissions. Its established expertise in emissions accounting translated into expertise in emissions reductions accounting for the North American carbon market.

International Initiatives

In addition to development of the Mexico protocols for its core program, the Reserve has launched and engaged in many other international initiatives. This work has included development of international emissions reduction standards, collaborating with partners and serving as an expert consultant for governments and others.

In 2014, the Reserve began providing technical support to the Government of Kazakhstan to support the development of its emission trading program with reliable and trusted offset provisions. The Reserve is developing one or more standardized protocols for domestic carbon offset projects for Kazakhstan; providing technical support to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to implement a program to evaluate and register offset projects; training project developers in the country to develop and submit projects under the protocols; and training verifiers in the country with respect to the protocols.

The Reserve has also conducted training for the government of South Korea, has engaged with and supported the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness, and is actively seeking opportunities to support emerging carbon trading programs and markets.

The Reserve has expanded its regulatory-quality work in forestry standards and applied its expertise internationally. For many years, it has played an active role in the development of REDD+ standards internationally through its partnerships with the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the REDD Offset Working Group (ROW). Additionally, it has consulted on forestry issues with national and subnational governments, including Acre, Brazil.

The Reserve has also hosted delegations from China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Indonesia and has staged side events at and participated in the United Nations Conference of Parties for many years.

Climate Active (NCOS)

Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. The brand represents Australia’s collective effort to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions to lessen our negative impact on the environment.

The certification is a new iteration of the Australian Government’s carbon neutral certification* that better reflects the role that government, business and community have to play in working together to address climate change.

The Climate Active initiative and Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard supports and guides businesses as they account for and reduce carbon emissions. The Climate Active stamp helps the community take action by making it easier to identify and choose brands that are making a real difference. It’s about making good decisions today, for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Our carbon neutral certification is one of the most rigorous in the world.

Carbon neutral certification against the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard (formerly the National Carbon Offset Standard) has been available to Australian businesses since 2010, with many of our certified members claiming carbon neutrality since this date. Those members that played a role in designing and bringing the Climate Active brand to life are identified as Climate Active Founding Members. 

Climate Active certification is awarded to businesses and organisations that have credibly reached a state of achieving net zero emissions, otherwise known as carbon neutrality. This means that the activities associated with running a business or producing a particular product have no net negative impact on the climate. 

To become carbon neutral, businesses and organisations calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated by their activity, such as fuel or electricity use and travel. They reduce these emissions as much as possible by investing in new technology or changing the way they operate.  Any remaining emissions can be ‘cancelled out’ by purchasing carbon offsets. Carbon offset units are generated from activities that prevent, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. When the offsets purchased by an organisation equal the emissions produced they are carbon neutral.


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