Verification by third-party institutions offers a way to provide confidence
to governments, investors, project developers, NGOs, and the public at large
regarding the validity of the carbon benefits claimed by a project. Third-party
verification could be based on an assessment of the project's compliance with
defined eligibility criteria. A single set of internationally accepted eligibility
criteria would facilitate direct comparison of projects, whereas a variety of
such criteria would result in projects and GHG benefits of differing quality.
Verification activities may include review of data or documentation (e.g.,
procedures, methodologies, analyses, reports), including interviews with project
personnel; inspection or calibration of measurement and analytical tools and
methods; repeat sampling and measurements; assessment of the quality and comprehensiveness
of the data used in calculating the project baseline and offsets, therefore
the confidence in the final claims; assessment of risks associated with the
project as well as the carbon benefits; and the presence or absence of non-GHG
externalities such as environmental and social impacts. Existing programs describe
alternative ways that verification could be accomplished. Notable elements of
these alternative programs include periodic verification of project performance
against defined criteria (EcoSecurities, 1997; Trines, 1998b; Moura-Costa et
al., 2000); an external evaluation panel, site visits, and third-party inspections
(USIJI, 1996); and designation of verifiers by the proposer (World Business
Council for a Sustainable Development, 1997).
Unlike projects in other sectors, the carbon stocks of LULUCF projects may
require verification and monitoring beyond the project time horizon. The verification
period will depend on the method chosen for accounting of carbon stocks (see
Section 5.4.2). The carbon stock method may require verification
until the end of the project; the average net carbon storage method may need
verification in perpetuity. The ton-year approach may require verification for
periods ranging from the project lifetime to some specified time period beyond
the project lifetime, depending on the specifics of the accounting method chosen.
There has been little experience to date with third-party verification of the
carbon stock of projects (Moura-Costa et al., 2000). The Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) offers a model, however, for how verification might be accomplished
and how verifiers might be accredited by an independent accreditation body.
The FSC accredits organizations that inspect forest operations and grants labels
certifying that the timber has been produced from well-managed forests. The
FSC is funded by organizations other than the industries it monitors. Other
institutions, such as SGS, are establishing certification councils with similar
The costs of verification by third parties can be alleviated by taking several
- A single set of eligibility criteria accompanied by standardized accounting
and reporting methodologies will reduce the costs of developing such services.
- Definition of acceptable confidence intervals will enable project developers
to maximize their sampling efficiency and enable verifiers to minimize their
- Development of "group verification programs," which have been successful
in other sectors, can make verification available to small-scale projects.