The following post was originally included as part of our recently published memorandum “Selected Issues for Boards of Directors in 2024”.
Companies have identified that the voluntary carbon markets may play an important role in contributing to a reduction in their net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and, therefore, in meeting their GHG emissions reduction goals. However, they have also exercised caution in embracing the voluntary carbon markets due to complicated standards, carbon credit quality issues and lack of market and pricing transparency. Since 2020, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has shown an increasing interest in regulating the voluntary carbon markets, and this interest has culminated in significant developments in 2023, including the Whistleblower Alert, establishment of its Environmental Fraud Task Force, the Second Voluntary Carbon Markets Convening and now the Proposed Guidance Regarding the Listing of Voluntary Carbon Credit Derivative Contracts. These CFTC initiatives have the potential to address some of the well-known challenges in the voluntary carbon markets, which may lead to a healthier and more robust market. We begin with a brief overview of the voluntary carbon markets before discussing the CFTC’s recent actions in this area.
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