Professor Nowak appointed to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program Advisory Group of Verra


Institutional Communication Service

2 October 2023

Verra is the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) responsible for managing the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which certifies carbon emission reductions. Recently, Verra has has launched a new cohort of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program Advisory Group (AG). The organisation aims to add another layer of rigor and stakeholder insight to the VCS Program development process, particularly as Verra prepares for the launch of VCS Program Version 5.

Among the new VCS Programme Advisory Group members is Eric Nowak, full professor at USI Faculty of Economics and director of the Center for Climate Finance and Sustainability (CCFS).

Professor Nowak, what will be your role and your main contributions VCS Program Advisory Group?

This is a strategic advisory board (not a supervisory board) that supports the VCS Programme to meet the needs of the Voluntary carbon market (VCM), of which most other members are stakeholders, and monitor compliance of the VCS Programme with rules and requirements in support of the ambition to halve global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and reach net zero GHG emissions by mid-century. As part of the governance process, we are asked to provide input on key issues before, during, and after public consultations, as well as on new methodologies and changes to existing methodologies.
Here, I see my main contribution in bringing good governance and economic analysis on those matters into the group of the NGO, which is so far dominated by people in forest management and natural sciences, not economics or business.

Verra's Verified Carbon Standard was recently criticised by a journalistic investigation conducted by the Guardian and Die Zeit. Do you think the system will regain its credibility?

The Voluntary Carbon Market, despite being the only functioning and scalable solution to address climate change and biodiversity loss, is currently in a difficult situation and (in my opinion) overly criticised on unjustified grounds because many people are against the principle of carbon offsetting without really understanding the underlying mechanics and big picture issues. Many initiatives are underway to restore the integrity and credibility of the market. With my work in the advisory group and concurrent academic research, I hope to be able to demystify the VCM and help to make it more efficient.

Will the carbon credit system play an important role in achieving zero net emissions?

The carbon credit system is the only functioning and scalable solution for achieving net zero emissions targets, especially in developing countries with high deforestation of rainforests and other natural habitats, which is a main driver of climate change and biodiversity loss. Without the VCM it will not be possible to achieve the Paris goals on Climate change mitigation nor the Montreal goals on Biodiversity loss mitigation.