Updates to the Climate Neutral Certified Standard for 2023

Austin Whitman
October 11, 2022
An overview of updates to the Climate Neutral Certified Standard for 2023. These updates result from our annual review process and help ensure our certification is aligned with the climate impacts we seek.

Hot off the presses, we've published our 2023 Climate Neutral Certified Standard, which describes all requirements for entities completing certification in 2023. The Standard covers work required to measure past emissions, compensate for them, and invest in future reductions.** 

We update the Standard annually for two reasons: to increase the rigor of our program, and to incorporate new information. Climate change is not slowing down, and each year brings us one year closer to 2050. As the urgency increases, the bar gets higher. At the same time, carbon markets are changing rapidly, as are the opportunities to cut emissions from corporate value chains. Our updates to the Standard reflect the new information that we gather from year to year.

Our Standard walks through the requirements needed to attain Climate Neutral certification. In creating one, uniform Standard that all brands follow, regardless of size or industry, we ensure that the Climate Neutral Certified label means the same thing for everyone.  I’ll talk through this year’s main changes to each section of the Standard below.

Greenhouse Gas Measurement Requirements

This year, we have new data requirements for how certifying brands measure their cradle to customer emissions. Brands are strongly encouraged to use actual (vs. estimated) data for Scope 1 and 2 measurement. Additionally, brands are encouraged to use physical data for emissions Scopes & Categories that make up at least 5% of total emissions. Any brand that sets a science-aligned target through Climate Neutral will be required to use physical data for Scope 1 & 2 emissions starting in their second certification year. 

Requirements for Investing in Value Chain Reductions

New this year, we are establishing two Checkpoint Years in 2025 and 2028 where brands will be required to demonstrate progress towards reduction actions and science-aligned targets. Our goal in establishing Checkpoint Years is to hold brands accountable for their important reduction work, but acknowledge that even if effort towards reduction work is linear, outcomes are often nonlinear. Other reduction requirements remain in place from our 2022 Standard.

Requirements for Emissions Compensation

For 2023 we are establishing an “open allocation” for brands to fulfill up to 5% of their required compensation with carbon dioxide removal (CDR) credits that have not received third party verification. This open allocation is specific to CDR projects that are not eligible for verification because they come from emerging technologies or processes. It does not include projects that are eligible for, but have failed to receive, verification under an accepted registry, or projects that have been verified under a standard that is ineligible.

We have also added an exclusion on cryptocurrency tokens as a means of making compensation investments.

 

Disclosure

All Climate Neutral Certified brands are required to disclose their emissions, annual contribution toward carbon credits, reduction action targets, and their progress towards past reduction action plans during their annual certification cycle. There are no changes to our disclosure requirements each year. 

Climate Advocacy

We recognize that corporate reduction work is one important piece to big-picture climate mitigation along with other key drivers like policy and individual action. For this reason, we’ve developed new goals for all certified brands to participate in some form of climate advocacy, whether it relates to climate lobbying, internal climate literacy, or consumer education, during every certification year. These are optional actions that will engage our brands in the broader conversation about the importance of their climate work. 

We are excited to continue to push our brands to create the greatest possible impact through their work in the certification process. 

**A quick note on how we talk about certification:

As you scan through our website and updated Standard, you’ll notice that we’ve changed how we talk about our framework: it’s gone from Measure | Offset | Reduce to Measure | Reduce | Compensate. We’ll use this new framework because it makes more sense to more people than the old one. It changes nothing about our mission to inspire brands to invest in internal reduction work while compensating at each step along the way for all of their past emissions.

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Header photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

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About the Author

Austin Whitman
CEO, Change Climate

Austin Whitman is the CEO of The Change Climate Project. He started working on climate and clean energy 19 years ago and believes companies and individuals can make a huge difference for the climate if they're just shown how. When he's not engrossed in organization-building, he's probably with his family or being an amateur at one of his many hobbies.

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