Verra has published updates to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. The changes in version 4.5 of the VCS Standard (PDF) and updated versions of associated VCS Program documents will strengthen the program’s usability, transparency, and integrity, and align it with major global carbon markets initiatives, such as the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) and the Carbon Offsetting Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Increased Usability

Updates that result in increased usability include new versions of the VCS Project templates, which have been revised to include additional user guidance and an enhanced design. Many sections in the Registration and Issuance Process have also been clarified.

Greater Transparency

Two new market labels for Verified Carbon Units (VCUs), which will strengthen the marketability of these units, are now available:

  • Labels that clearly differentiate between VCUs based on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and VCUs based on carbon dioxide removals
  • Labels that identify credits authorized for use under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement

Updates to the Registration and Issuance Process include clarified processes for the publication of project documents, pipeline listing, Verra review and request denial procedures, and loss event and buffer release processes. Related upcoming changes in the Verra Registry will result in a clearer indication of the reason why a project request has been denied registration in the VCS Program.

Strengthened Integrity

Several changes in version 4.5 of the VCS Standard and associated VCS Program documents strengthen the program’s integrity and ensure it is aligned with initiatives including ICVCM and CORSIA. These updates include the following:

  • Enhanced environmental and social safeguards
  • Increased non-permanence risk withholdings that account for future climate change impacts (a digitized version of the new Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use [AFOLU] Non-Permanence Risk Tool will be released in the coming months)
  • New requirements for extended minimum permanence monitoring (40 years)
  • Addition of a discount factor for activities that reduce upstream GHG emissions, such as through product substitution
  • Sanction procedures and a reinstatement fee for validation/verification bodies (VVBs) that are not conforming with VCS Program or accreditation requirements


Verra held a series of webinars to provide an overview of the changes included in version 4.5 of the VCS Standard and updated versions of the VCS Program documents:

Appreciation for Stakeholder Input

Verra would like to thank all stakeholders who provided input on the public consultations that informed these updates. We received over 720 comments from 59 stakeholders in the Public Consultation on VCS Program Updates that ran from June through July 2023. These comments were carefully considered in version 4.5 of the VCS Standard and updated versions of the VCS Program documents. See the Summary of Comments: June 2023 Public Consultation on Proposed Updates to the VCS Program (PDF).

For any questions related to VCS Program updates, please contact

Detailed Program Update Information

Below, we provide detailed information about the most important updates. The complete list of changes included in the VCS Program updates, including effective dates and grace periods, can be found in the August 2023 Overview of VCS Program Updates and Effective Dates (PDF).

New project templates feature the following updates:

  • Additional guidance for users (both project developers and VVBs)
  • Enhanced formatting to provide clarity on required sections
  • Additions and revisions resulting from other program updates (e.g., sections related to new labels)

The effective date for the new templates is March 1, 2024. All project requests submitted on or after that date must use the new templates. Updated digital templates will be available on the Verra Project Hub in the coming months.

New templates will be listed on the VCS Program Rules and Requirements page.

Two new types of VCU market labels are now available. Verra ran a public consultation on the labels in June and July 2022 (New Verra Unit Labels Consultation Responses (PDF)). They include the following:

  • Mitigation outcome type labels for (1) GHG emission reductions and (2) carbon dioxide removals
    • Projects using methodologies that result exclusively in either reduction VCUs or removal VCUs will be able to add the respective labels to their VCUs.
    • Registry updates to enable labeling of projects that have a mix of reductions and removals are under development.
    • Specific guidance for the use of these labels and how to apply for them is available in the newly added Mitigation Outcome Type Label Guidance, v1.0 (PDF).
  • Article 6 labels
    • These labels identify VCUs that have been authorized by host countries for use under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
    • Specific guidance for the use of these labels and how to apply for them, as well as requirements for host country letters of authorization, is available in the new Article 6 Label Guidance, v1.0 (PDF).
    • Article 6 authorization is not required for all VCUs but for some specific retirement purposes, such as to indicate CORSIA first phase (2024–2026) compliance.

In addition to the new labels, Verra has made the following updates to existing labels:

  • CORSIA labels
    • All existing CORSIA labels have been updated to “CORSIA — Pilot Phase, 2021–2023.” A “CORSIA — First Phase (2024–2026)” label will be available once the International Civil Aviation Organization approves VCUs for use in that compliance period.

To better align with the ICVCM Core Carbon Principles, Verra has added the following to the VCS safeguards and requirements for stakeholder engagement in v4.5 of the VCS Standard (PDF):

  • Expansion of no-net-harm safeguards to require more specific safeguard information reporting from all VCS projects
  • Clarified safeguards related to ecosystem health to prevent land conversion and the use of invasive and non-native species that threaten ecosystems
  • Clarification of requirements for local stakeholder engagement and free, prior, and informed consent before project activities

The updated AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool (NPRT) (PDF) includes several added features:

  • The ability to take into consideration the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise (following comments received during the February 2022 consultation (PDF))
  • New withholding categories and changes to mitigation measures (following feedback received during the June 2023 consultation).

Additionally, a digitized version of the AFOLU NPRT, the AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Assessment Calculator, will soon be available on the Verra Project Hub. Project proponents will be required to use this Risk Assessment Calculator to generate AFOLU non-permanence risk reports starting January 1, 2024.

For activities where emission reductions occur upstream of project activities (e.g., displacing high-carbon products with lower-carbon alternatives), Verra has updated the VCS Methodology Requirements (PDF) to require evidence of one-to-one displacement. In the absence of this evidence, methodologies must provide an upstream displacement discount factor. A default factor of 30 percent is applied where more specific displacement evidence is unavailable.

To strengthen the integrity of validation/verification body performance, Verra has made the following changes to its oversight of VVBs in the VCS Program Guide (PDF):

  • Updates to Verra’s responsibilities for oversight of validation/verification bodies
  • New sanction procedures in cases of poor performance and/or nonconformance by VVBs

The following updates align the VCS Program with the requirements of the ICVCM and CORSIA:

  • Clarified VCS double-counting and double-claiming requirements
  • Requirements for extended permanence monitoring (minimum of 40 years) and compensation for avoidable reversals
  • Updated methodology requirements to align the VCS program with the transition to global net zero emissions and clarify financial additionality requirements
  • New requirement to consider policy impacts on project baseline scenarios