Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) are eligible credits for compliance with obligations under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) implemented CORSIA to keep global net CO2 emissions from international aviation at 2019 levels (so-called “carbon neutral growth from 2020”). This is achieved by offsetting any emissions above 2020 levels that remain after the use of sustainable aviation fuels and implementation of technical and operational improvements in the sector. The CORSIA program has established rules for determining the sector’s requirements for offsetting and allocating the offsetting obligation to airlines.
Obligations under the CORSIA program are effective for 2021 to 2035. Over 100 countries are participating in the current, voluntary pilot phase and this participation is expected to grow until 2027 when participation becomes mandatory for most countries in the ICAO framework.
Most project types in the VCS Program are eligible to supply VCUs into CORSIA. As per the current scope of eligible VCS projects set by ICAO, the crediting period must have started on 1 January 2016 onwards and the mitigation must have occurred up until 31 December 2020. ICAO will further consider the eligibility of mitigation occurring from 2021 onwards through VCS projects.
Project proponents may request a CORSIA label be applied to eligible VCUs, either as part of the issuance process or by specific request thereafter. This CORSIA label will be displayed on the Verra Registry to indicate which VCUs may be retired for CORSIA purposes. CORSIA-labeled VCUs are searchable in the Verra Registry under the “Additional Certifications” field.
In March 2020, Verra hosted two webinars to review the inclusion of VCUs in CORSIA.
Note: The presentation erroneously states that the CORSIA procedures to avoid double-counting apply to vintages from 2016 to 2020. They apply to vintages post 2020.
Eligible VCUs under CORSIA
VCUs that meet each of the following conditions are eligible for use in CORSIA for the 2021-2023 pilot phase:
- Crediting period eligibility: The project’s first crediting period started on or after 1 January 2016.
- Vintage eligibility: The emission reductions or removals occurred up to 31 December 2020 (as shown by the Vintage End Date).
- Project/program type eligibility: Issuance is for one of the following cases:
- For a non-AFOLU project
- For an AFOLU project applying one of the following methodologies:
- VM0012, Improved Forest Management in Temperate and Boreal Forests
- VM0017 Adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Land Management
- VM0021 Soil Carbon Quantification Methodology
- VM0022 Quantifying N2O Emissions Reductions in Agricultural Crops through Nitrogen Fertilizer Rate Reduction
- VM0024 Methodology for Coastal Wetland Creation
- VM0026 Methodology for Sustainable Grassland Management (and VMD0040 Leakage from Displacement of Grazing Activities)
- VM0032 Methodology for the Adoption of Sustainable Grasslands through Adjustment of Fire and Grazing
- VM0033 Methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration
- VM0036 Methodology for Rewetting Drained Temperate Peatlands
- VM0041 Methodology for the Reduction of Enteric Methane Emissions from Ruminants through the Use of Feed Ingredients, v2.0
- VM0042 Methodology for Improved Agricultural Land Management, v1.0
- At the jurisdictional level for a Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) program under Crediting Scenario 2 or 3
- At the project level for a JNR program under Crediting Scenario 2a
- For an AFOLU project other than those types referred to above that is small in scale (i.e., was estimated at the time of project registration to generate less than 7,000 VCUs per year)
- Sustainable development contributions reporting: VCUs issued to projects that have reported on their sustainable development contributions through one of the following:
- Applying the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards
- Applying the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta)
- For projects using VCS monitoring report templates v4.0 or earlier: Completing a Sustainable Development Contributions Report (DOC)
- For projects using VCS monitoring report templates v4.1 and later: Utilizing the latest templates for the VCS Monitoring Report (DOC) or Joint Project Description and Monitoring Report (DOC)
The VCS has been conditionally approved for the 2024-2026 compliance period (CORSIA First Phase). Verra has submitted further information to ICAO and full approval is expected by March 2024 at the latest, together with a detailed confirmation of eligible VCUs. Expected additional eligibility criteria for the 2024-2026 first phase include:
- Regulatory Surplus: Projects that are required by law, even if not systematically enforced, will not be eligible for use under the CORSIA First Phase. Further guidance on CORSIA labels for VCU vintages of 2021 and later will be available once full CORSIA approval for the First Phase is received.
- Article 6 Authorization: To be retired for CORSIA use, VCUs from crediting periods 2021 and later will need a CORSIA label and an “Article 6 Authorized: International Mitigation Purposes” VCU label.