The Gold Standard
The Gold Standard (GS) is a full-fledged carbon offset standard.The GS requires social and environmental benefits of its carbon offset projects and has a very well developed stakeholder process. The GS can be applied to voluntary offset projects as well as to CDM projects.
History of Standard
The GS was developed under the leadership of the WWF in order to ensure that emission reduction projects are real and provide social, economic and environmental
benefits.The GS CDM was launched in 2003 after a two year period of consultation with stakeholders,governments, NGOs and the private sector from over 40countries.
GS VER was launched in 2006. The GS is endorsed by 56 NGOs.
The Gold Standard Foundation is a non-profit organisation under Swiss Law, funded by public and private donors. The operational activities of the GS are managed by the GS secretariat based in Basel,Switzerland, including capacity building,marketing and communications, certification,registration and issuance as well as maintenance of the GS rules and procedures. The secretariat has currently a staff of 5.
The Foundation Board oversees the strategic and organizational development of the GS. The Board has currently 8 members. At least 50% of its members must be recruited from the GS NGO supporter community, and one member is at the same time the Chair of the GS Technical Advisory Committee. In case of significant changes to the Gold Standard rules and procedures, the Board decides whether or not a GS NGO supporter majority is necessary to implement the change.
Technical Advisory Committee (GS-TAC) evaluates and approves projects, new methodologies for VER projects and is in charge of updating the GS rules and
procedures.It is the equivalent of the CDM EB / MethPanel forVER projects. The GS-TAC has currently 7members,all acting in their personal capacities. The GSTAC
members are from the NGO community, multilateral organizations, aid agencies and the private sector.
Gold Standard NGO Supporters decide on major rule changes(e.g. eligibility of project types). GS Supporter NGOs must be consulted as part of the GS stakeholder consultation in case they have operations in the relevant host country. Supporter NGOs are also invited to take part in the project reviewing process and can request an in-depth audit of GS projects both at the registration as well as issuance stage.
GS Auditors are UNFCCC accredited DOEs who carry out validation and verification of GS projects. DOEs are not allowed to do the validation and the verification
for the same project, except for micro and small scale projects.
Financing of the S Standard Organisation
The standard is financed through donors and income from issuance fees and franchising fees.
Recognition of Other Standards
The GS does not recognize any other voluntary standards.Yet the GS it is recognized by the VOS and is likely to be recognized in the near future by several
other standards (VER+, VCS.)
Number of Projects
In total, 10 projects have been registered under the GS.About 35projects are official Gold Standard Applicants, representing about 4 million CERs and500,000VERs. Another 65+ projects are in the pipeline.
The GS is generally accepted as the standard with the most stringent quality criteria.Many buyers turn to GS as the only full-fledged standard endorsed by leading environmental NGOs. It is further more the only voluntary standard that has the following three elements:clearly defined additionality rules, required third-party auditing and an approval body similar to the CDM EB.
Future of Gold Standard
Currently,the GS is in the process of improving its rules and procedures. Gold Standard version 2is expected to go live in May 2008 and will provide further clarification and guidance for project types, additionality, sustainable development assessment, stakeholder consultation, and for the validation and verification process. It remains to be seen if the GS,currently a very small organisation, will be able to certify large quantities of emission reductions.
At the moment, with only a few projects using GS, it is a challenge to balance strengthening the standards with the need to attract project developers, most of whom are currently not willing to invest in much additional work to ensure environmental integrity and co-benefits.
It seems likely that the GS will only be successful on a larger scale if it succeeds in creating enough incentives to motivate more project developers to follow the strict guidelines. This could possibly be accomplished thought creating a large and sustained demand for GS offsets and through streamlining the process as much as possible without compromising the integrity of the standard.
Source: WWF Germany, March 2008, Making Sense of the Voluntary Carbon Market: A Comparison of Carbon Offset Standards, Anja Kollmuss(SEI-US), Helge Zink (Tricorona), Clifford Polycarp (SEI-US). Full report is available as a PDF here.