How We Establish and Maintain Our Standards

Lauren Frisch
August 23, 2021
As a certifying organization, Climate Neutral works year-round to establish and update our standards based on the latest science and best practices.

As a certifying organization, Climate Neutral works year-round to establish and update our standards based on the latest science and best practices. The Climate Neutral Standards create the backbone of our certification. Today we’re going to take a deep dive into our annual standards review process. Buckle up! 

The Climate Neutral Standards reflect how we think companies should be taking action on climate change to create the greatest and most meaningful impact. But the world of climate mitigation is constantly changing. Companies around the world make new pledges everyday, new carbon avoidance and removal projects begin, and new climate science highlights the best paths to get to a net-zero world.

We first created our standards in 2019 by distilling every carbon neutrality, carbon measurement, and emission reduction standard, pledge, and framework that we could find—right down into something that would fit on two pages. (It might have been three.) We were careful to be as prescriptive as possible, because uncertainty can really be the enemy of progress.

To keep those standards fresh and ensure that our certification remains rigorous, we’ve developed an annual standards review process to evaluate if and how we should tweak our certification standards from year to year.

To get the most from this process, we assembled experts from across the field. They have backgrounds in carbon project development, sustainability consulting, GHG accounting, reduction strategy, and industry, and they help us evaluate our standards and keep up with the ways the market is changing. And in an effort to keep this process from feeling like the Room Where it Happens, we share content about how we make decisions, what we’ve included in our standards, and the impact that we’re creating. Stay tuned for more posts on these topics. 

One committee—the Advisory Committee on Eligible Carbon Credits (ACEC)—focuses exclusively on our carbon credit standards, which helps define eligible carbon credits. Our other committee—the Advisory Committee for the Climate Neutral Standards (ACCS)—looks at the Climate Neutral standards more generally, which includes everything from our reduction requirements to the ways that we integrate new standards into our process after our yearly review. 

Over the course of a few months, we frame our proposed changes, collect individual feedback on each idea, and discuss each proposed change as a group. Once we’ve reached consensus about what direction to move in, we synthesize our proposed changes and pitch them to the Climate Neutral Board of Directors, who will approve the new set of standards.

We expect that our proposed ideas will change along the way, and that we won’t reach consensus right off the bat. This is exactly why it’s so important to have a process that encourages thoughtful conversation each year about how we can strengthen our certification and grow our impact. 

Because you’re no doubt thirsty for more, there’s good news: We recently completed our 2021 standards review process and you can read our newly-minted 2022 Climate Neutral Standards here. And stay tuned for another blog post that will highlight the main updates in the 2022 Standards.

See you there.

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About the Author

Lauren Frisch
Program Impact

With a background in environmental research and science communication, Lauren is interested in helping companies use science-based, data-driven strategies to mitigate climate change. She has a BA in environmental geology from Colgate University, an MS in environmental policy from Bard College, and an MBA from the University of Vermont. Lauren lives in Burlington, where she spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her sled dog Daisy.

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