All certified projects are challenged according the criteria defined in our standard rules.
The criteria set by Riverse ensure our standard respects the best practice of the market, specifically the carbon credit core principles:
- Do no harm
- Rebound effects
- Technology Readiness Level
- Targets Alignement
- Minimum impact
- Independent Verification.
We have chosen and refined these criteria to provide qualitative carbon credits to the market. The other criteria are detailed in the list below.
Additionally, as per our present advancement level, we are limited in the number of technologies that are eligible for our standard. We are consistently working on assessing and allowing more technologies to get certified.
1. Independent Verification
First of all, every Riverse methodology has been reviewed by a relevant carbon credit expert, DNV Group, on the following elements:
- Compliance of the methodology with ICVCM recommandation to certify highest quality carbon credit
- Quality of measurement guidelines to ensure LCA rigour and conservativeness
- Robustness of verification process over time
Furthermore, during the validation phase, each DPD is audited by a accredited, independent and competent third-party verifier (validation & verification body - VVB), on the following elements:
- Robustess of carbon gain measurement
- Compliance with Riverse methodology specifications
- Validity of verification KPIs, supporting document proofs and check frequencies
The VVB needs to be compliant with Riverse accreditation rules, which main principles are the following:
- detaining the ISO 14065 accreditation or equivalent (i.e. COFRAC ISO:17029)
- detaining more than 5 years of auditing experience, including at least 2 years in environmental auditing
- Sign Riverse’s Conflicts of Interest Policy
Each project must prove its impact with a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA). The LCA should cover all life cycle stages where there are potential differences between the project and the baseline scenario. The LCA must include the indicator of global warming potential over at least 100 years due to airborne emissions of GHGs (in kgCO2eq).
The comparative approach must use the same functional unit (FU) for both baseline and project scenarios. The FU must be quantified, qualitatively described and geographically and temporally defined.
More detailed LCA rules and descriptions are available in the General LCA Methodology in the standard rules.
Riverse provides tools to allow project developers to conduct their own LCA. Alternatively, project developers may use a preexisting recent LCA, if it is:
- representative of the current processes
- aligned with the quality and rigor defined in the Riverse LCA Rules
- provided by a company demonstrating at least 2 years of expertise in LCA
When LCA methodologies are not sufficiently adapted or relevant to the project, projects’ LCA can be supported by a specific methodology, including peer-reviewed literature. In this case, scientific and technical reviews will be added to the project's case.
A list of key impact indicators (KIIs) must be provided along with the LCA. These parameters’ values are important to the LCA results, are subject to change, and will be used for monitoring over time.
A carbon credit is real if it represents an actual net emissions avoidance/removal that has occurred, as opposed to an estimated future avoidance/removal. Certified credits issued by Riverse are all ex-post, meaning the mitigation activity that leads to emission removal/avoidance has already taken place. In contrast, Riverse pre-credits are ex-ante, meaning they come from solutions that are expected to be implemented.
During the verification process, project developers follow their monitoring plan to prove that the estimated emission removal/avoidance has occurred, and was not overestimated due to artificial, incomplete, or inaccurate emissions accounting.
To prove that a carbon credit is real, project developers must track KIIs during the mitigation activity and share them with Riverse through monitoring documents. KIIs should demonstrate that the project:
- Delivered its expected outputs: the project actually occurred and executed its functions
- Reduced/avoided emissions: KIIs can be critical parameters in the LCA, which have a large influence on emission calculations. Tracking these parameters can help justify that the emissions of the actual mitigation activity are coherent with the expected emissions.
The Riverse registry includes a provision pool, where 10% of each projects’ credits are automatically transferred. This pool of credits acts as a safeguard/buffer in case of overestimation of projects’ true emissions.
Carbon credits issued by Riverse must fund carbon-negative solutions that would not have occurred without the project’s mitigation activity. This principle, called additionality, ensures that climate financing spurs additional action to fight climate change, rather than subsidizing actions that would have happened anyway.
Carbon credits cannot be issued for projects which would have occurred regardless of the sale of carbon credits, or for carbon removal/avoidance which would have occurred without the intervention of the project. Several types of additionality are described below. All projects must demonstrate their Regulatory Additionality, plus at least one type of additionality in the DPD.
Permanence refers to a situation where the project’s emission avoidance/removal stays constant for the committed-upon duration. Alternatively, a project may be non-permanent due to, for example, natural disaster (fires, drought, pests) or project mismanagement. The mitigation activity then only results in a temporary carbon removal or avoidance, which has a limited effect on climate change abatement.
Permanence should be ensured through:
- a commitment period: projects determine the duration a mitigation activity commits to, and then whether the credit faces reversal risks. Commitment periods are the duration over which sequestration or abatement activities have permanence horizons, and differ from crediting periods (the timeframes during which avoidance or removals are eligible for issuance as verified carbon credits).
- a contribution to the provision pool: all projects must contribute 10% of their verified credits to the provision pool. In case of carbon avoidance/removal reversal or failure to deliver a project, these credits will replace the canceled credits.
- reliable information: the project must disclose all information required to calculate the commitment period
- risk assessment: an evaluation of the risk of reversal, outlining potential causes for reversal and their likelihood
The commitment periods are defined within the following ranges:
- Short-term storage less than 100 years
- Medium-term storage: between 100 and 1000 years
- Long-term storage: over than 1000 years
Projects with all of the above commitment lengths can be eligible for carbon credits, although more long-term carbon removal indicates higher-quality credits. This difference in quality will be reflected in the price of the credit.
For carbon removal credits, the primary non-permanence risks are physical, i.e. leakage from geologic or biologic reservoirs. Therefore these projects need to document how the reservoirs are managed and secured during the committed time period.
For carbon avoidance credits, there are no inherent risks of physical reversal once the project has been completed and its credits have been verified. However these projects face information risk, where credits may be canceled if it is discovered that inaccurate information was originally provided, leading to an overestimation of carbon credits.
Unicity refers to the unique sale of carbon credits, which is fundamental for the environmental integrity of carbon trading. Carbon credits must only be counted once, and shouldn’t be double-issued or sold.
This is maintained by ensuring that credits are not 1) double counted by being issued in multiple registries, or 2) claimed by both the credit seller and buyer.
Any project wishing to have its GHG emission gains certified using the Riverse standard must sign the platform agreements before moving to the DPD phase committing not to use another certification body or label to issue carbon credits for the given project.
Riverse reserves the right to verify that credit sellers do not claim the same carbon credits that are issued and sold in the registry. In order to ensure transparency, all pre-credits and credits are visible on the Riverse registry, which is accessible online along with all other project information.
Each pre-credit or credit is traced with a unique identification number from issuance to retirement (see more at chapter 4. Registry).
Project developers and buyers should not count carbon credits directly in their carbon accounting, and should instead follow recommendations by Bilan CarboneⓇ, GHG Protocol or Net Zero Initiative.
All Riverse certified projects must have a positive systemic impact by having two quantifiable and verifiable environmental or social co-benefits. These must be in addition to their climate change benefits, which are already accounted for in the issuance of carbon credits. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are used as a framework to measure co-benefits. Projects may claim positive co-benefits relating to any of the following SDGs, which are deemed most relevant to Riverse’s program focus:
- 7 - Clean and affordable energy
- 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
- 9 - Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
- 12 - Responsible consumption and production
- 14 - Aquatic life
- 15 - Life on earth
Other relevant UN SDG sub-objectives or sustainability indicators may also be used.
For quantification of these benefits, the project can use either its LCA results or KIIs.