The VER+ Standard
The Voluntary Emissions Reduction VER Standard is for carbon offset projects and has been developed by TÜV SÜD (a German based verification company).
A number of project types are elgigible for certification, however like the Kyoto mechanisms (Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation) it excludes nuclear power projects and large hydropower projects over 80MW. Hydropower projects over 20MW must conform to requirements of the World Commission on Dams.
Projects are verified by a third party auditor which must be CDM/JI accredited. All VER+ offset credits must be registered in TÜV SÜD’s own Blueregistry, launched in 2007. This prevents the double selling of credits and aids transparency.
Ecosystem Marketplace reports in its 'State of Carbon Markets 2013' report that there are 34 VER+ projects. To date there have been 3.75MtCO2e of Voluntary Emissions Reduction certificates transacted using the VER+ standard. However in 2012 there were no new offset projects validated, and only 0.02 MtCO2e was transacted using VER+, at an average price of $18.1 per tonne. This perhaps reflects the dominance of alternative voluntary carbon offset standards, including gold standard and VCS (WWF, 2008).
The VER+ standard was designed to validate and verify offset projects to a similar standard to Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) requirements. It was launched in mid 2007. The standard is useful for projects not yet implemented under CDM as it demonstrates pre-compliance with CDM principles meaning that project developers may well be able to sell credits through the CDM in the future. The standard is perhaps preferable to the CDM because it is more flexible on methodology and the fees for entry into BlueRegistry are cheaper than the UN's (WWF, 2008).
TÜV SÜD is a private certification company operating in many different fields of certification. For the VER+ standard a set of transaction fees (€0.03/tCO2e) and retirement fees fund the maintenance of the standard. no further information on funding is publically available.
The VER+ standard follows the CDM/JI protocols very closely and is explicitly designed to streamline the process of pre-CDM compliance.
TÜV SÜD is currently both the certification body and the auditor, which perhaps raises questions of independence.