In the planning and development of our climate protection projects, we observe strict integrity and quality criteria. We register projects that have passed our atmosfair-internal eligibility check under the UNFCCC standard (previously Clean Development Mechanism, “CDM”, in future Article 6.4 of the Paris Climate Agreement) and Gold Standard, the leading climate protection standard in the voluntary market. Under these standards, we have our projects audited regularly (every 1-2 years) by independent auditors.
Below we provide a brief overview of the approval and verification process under UNFCCC and Gold Standard. Further information on project selection and process can be found here.
Approval and verification process under UNFCCC and Gold Standard
atmosfair climate protection projects are mostly dually registered under the UNFCCC and Gold Standard. Until the end of 2020, the CDM was the standard supervised by the community of states under UNFCCC. On 01.01.2021, this was replaced by a new mechanism in Article 6.4 of the Paris Climate Agreement. atmosfair will register its projects under this new mechanism in the future. However, this will probably only be possible from around 2024.
Pure Gold Standard registration is only used by atmosfair on a transitional basis until registration under the new mechanism under 6.4 of the Paris Climate Agreement is possible, and for small projects for which the relatively higher registration costs under UNFCCC would not be worthwhile.
atmosfair does not use other climate protection standards. A comparison of the most important standards in the voluntary market can be found here (in German).
Until the end of 2020, the CDM was the standard supervised by the community of states under UNFCCC. The CDM was an important pillar of the Kyoto Protocol. Even though it was officially replaced by Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 01.01.2021, the review of ongoing projects and the registration of new sub-projects under the CDM is still possible during a transitional period. CDM projects can be transferred to Article 6.4 in the future. They will go through a simplified review process in which the project host country has to agree again. atmosfair is working on such a transfer for most of its CDM projects. Until that time, atmosfair will continue to have them verified under the CDM rules.
The CDM enables the internationally recognised saving of greenhouse gases through projects in the global South. In addition to emission reductions, CDM projects should bring about a technology transfer from an industrialised country to a country of the Global South and thus contribute to sustainable, climate-friendly development in non-industrialised countries. Under Article 6.4, projects can also be carried out in industrialised countries in the future, provided they agree to Corresponding Adjustments so that emission reductions are not counted twice.
Before being registered under the CDM, all projects undergo a validation process in which independent auditors examine the additionality of a project and the amount of emission reductions planned. This procedure is also provided for under Article 6.4. The verifiers are liable for their reports. So far, this is only the case under the CDM.
First, atmosfair prepares the project documentation and submits it to the independent auditor for validation.
In parallel, atmosfair presents the project to the local population in the project region and documents their attitude towards the planned activity. Furthermore, atmosfair obtains the approval of the national authorities of guest and host country. (guest = investor, e.g. Germany; host = project country, e.g. Nepal) Until now, the CDM was the only standard that required project operators to prove that the host country agrees with the project activity. Article 6.4 also requires this and, in future, the Gold Standard will also be the only standard in the voluntary market. Host country consent is required under the Paris Climate Change Agreement because the host country must decide whether to allow emission reductions from the project for offsetting and to make Corresponding Adjustments.
If the verifiers confirm that the project meets all the requirements of the CDM (in future Article 6.4), they upload the reports to the official, publicly visible project page of the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC then decides on registration.
The term of a CDM project is 10 years once or 3*7=21 years, with a new, comprehensive review required after every 7 years. Under Article 6.4, it is to be only 3*5 years.
Once a project is registered, atmosfair and its local partners record at regular intervals how many emission reductions the project operation actually saves (monitoring). atmosfair summarises the results in a report, which we in turn submit to independent auditors.
They check the information we provide in the report (verification) and upload the reports to the UNFCCC project page. UNFCCC also checks the documents and, if everything is complete and correct, awards savings certificates (CER=Certified Emission Reduction, in future 6.4ERs = 6.4 Emission Reductions).
atmosfair archives these certificates in its official account at the Federal Environment Agency.
The Gold Standard was established by environmental organisations under the leadership of WWF to ensure that CDM projects actually contribute to sustainable development. It pays particular attention to the extent to which projects contribute to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when approving and auditing projects.
The CDM and also Article 6.4 are primarily intended as a mechanism for larger projects. Since the costs for the verification process are almost independent of the project size, the effort for small projects – which are often particularly innovative – can be disproportionately high. Therefore, atmosfair registers these as pure Gold Standard projects.
Approval and verification procedures under Gold Standard are similar to those under UNFCCC. However, in addition to the achieved emission reductions of a project, project operators record and document its contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Unlike under the UNFCCC, verifiers under the Gold Standard are not liable for the results of their verification. A special feature is the Gold Standard Microscale Standard, which is intended for micro-projects with emission savings of up to 10,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year: Here, Gold Standard carries out the verification itself, and the process is greatly simplified compared to the verification for larger projects.
Gold Standard credits registered projects with the achieved emission savings in the form of certificates (VERs = Verified Emission Reductions) in a separate project register. This is not subject to the supervision of the international community or an authority such as the Federal Environment Agency.