The Gold Standard is a set of criteria for certifying carbon offset projects and the carbon credits that they produce, focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste management and land use/forest projects. In addition, the Gold Standard Foundation are developing methodologies for water certification.
To receive the stamp of approval, all Gold Standard projects must be implemented following their best practice rules - these include consulting with local stakeholders, continually reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the environment as well as people’s lives. The principles that the projects must adhere to are:
1. The project shall do no harm, complying with the UNDP Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Carbon Safeguard Principles.
2. The project shall enhance sustainable development.
3. The project shall involve all relevant stakeholders.
4. Greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon sequestration shall be real.
5. The project shall be compliant with all relevant laws and Gold Standard Principles.
6. The project shall be transparent.
7. The project’s compliance and progress shall be monitored, reported and independently verified throughout the entire crediting period.
Once certified by The Gold Standard, projects are issued credits annually against independently audited climate and sustainable development outcomes. The Gold Standard Registry then hosts details of all Gold Standard certified projects and each credit is identified by a unique serial number that is traded in the Markit Environmental Registry.
The total number of Gold Standard projects (December 2013):
- New Project Applicants – 211
- Listed – 354
- Validated – 61
- Registered – 223
- Issued – 152
- 260+ project developers
- 1000+ projects in over 60 countries
- 65m+ GS tonnes CO2e issued and pending
- Approx 40:60 ratio of compliance to voluntary market projects
The Ecosystem Marketplace 'State of Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013' report found that of the total voluntary market, the Gold Standard represented 12% of total credits transacted in 2012.
The idea of a Gold Standard for carbon offsets was initially discussed by a group of Non-Govermental Organisations (NGOs) at the UNFCCC COP7 negotiations, held in Marrakech in 2001. A core group led by WWF, SouthSouthNorth (SSN) and Helio International developed the Gold Standard Methodology. The Standard was launched in 2003 following a 2 year period of consultation.
Since creation the methodology has been revised and updated twice to reflect changes in the market for carbon offsets and to incorporate additional rules and procedures.
The Gold Standard Foundation is funded by:
- The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
- Fundacion Natura
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
- WWF International
- UNDP GEF
- The World Bank
- The Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)
In addition, the Gold Standard project activities are also funded by the purchase of credits – by governments, business, impact investors and individuals.