The CarbonNeutral Protocol Index

2.4 Quality assurance and verification

Purpose of this guidance

The foundation of a CarbonNeutral® certification is the GHG assessment of the defined subject, in accordance with Part 1 – Measurement of the defined subject’s carbon footprint. The CarbonNeutral Protocol places strong emphasis on quality assurance to support the integrity of CarbonNeutral® certifications. This guidance explains how quality assurance is conducted and the roles and responsibilities of the CarbonNeutral® certifier; the client applying for and using CarbonNeutral® certifications; and independent third-party consultants.

Quality assurance roles and responsibilities

The CarbonNeutral certifier’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the requirements of the Protocol are met for the award of the specified certification. The client is responsible for completing a Protocol-compliant GHG assessment that is the foundation of all certifications.

The CarbonNeutral certifier requires that assessments are undertaken or reviewed by a qualified independent third-party which has the responsibility for attesting that GHG assessments meet the requirements of the Protocol and are in line with the approach and principles of The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

To this end, the CarbonNeutral certifier recognizes two types of assessors:

1. Assessment Partner: a qualified third-party assessor with a formal agreement with the CarbonNeutral certifier to conduct GHG assessments on behalf of clients in
accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Assessments conducted by Assessment Partners are accepted as CarbonNeutral Protocol compliant without additional review.

2. Assessment Provider: a qualified third-party assessor with no formal agreement with the CarbonNeutral certifier, contracted by the client to conduct its GHG assessment in accordance with the requirements of The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Where an assessment is conducted by an Assessment Provider, the Assessment Provider must complete and provide an attestation that the underlying assessment meets
the requirements of The CarbonNeutral Protocol and was undertaken based upon complete, accurate and correct data.

Assessment Partners

The appointment of Assessment Partners is conditional on evidence of the following competencies and experience specific to the relevant type of assignment (assessment or assessment review) and type of certification (entity, product or activity):

  • Organizations qualified and experienced in GHG accounting, Life Cycle Assessments and / or EPDs having performed at least three assessments following one or more of the referenced product standards;
  • Experienced individuals having performed at least three GHG assessments, LCA or EPD critical reviews following one or more of the referenced standards

The work products, qualifications and expertise of Assessment Partners are reviewed periodically to ensure that qualifications are maintained, and that Partners maintain satisfactory performance.

Verification, quality control and quality assurance requirements

Verification is an independent evaluation conducted by an expert third party to the requirements of an recognized verification standard (such as ISO 14064:3 or ISAE 3410) to confirm that the quality of input data, a GHG assessment, or that the use of a CarbonNeutral® certification logo, meets the requirements of CarbonNeutral® certification and is in line with the approach and principles of The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

The CarbonNeutral® certifier reserves the right to review and approve/deny the Assessment Provider and the completed attestation, to determine whether the Assessment Provider has sufficient and appropriate experience and expertise to undertake a high quality, compliant review, and to determine whether the attestation has been completed satisfactorily. Attestation templates may be obtained at www.carbonneutral.com/ attestation-form or by emailing assessments@climateimpact.com.

Independent assurance or verification of input data, calculations and CarbonNeutral® communications is at the discretion of the client and are not mandatory, though recommended.
Independent assurance or verification is particularly encouraged where:

  1. The organization is large in size and/or is operating in a high emissions-intensity industry
  2. Certifications are publicly reported or presented to audiences which may use CarbonNeutral® certifications to make commercially material decisions
  3. Certifications are used in support of mandatory reporting requirements or submissions to regulatory authorities

The additional costs of verification should be weighed against the value derived from third-party review. The value of third-party review comes from increased rigor and integrity, and from the identification of management system improvements which increase cost-effectiveness and improve management of climate risks.

Routes to increased rigor and integrity of certifications include, but are not limited to:

  1. Maintaining on file the data, assumptions, models and supporting calculations to a recognized standard such as ISO 14064-1 or the GHG Protocol
  2. Ensuring that staff and management involved in the CarbonNeutral® certification have the requisite qualifications, competencies and experience
  3. Subjecting the accuracy of the input data, assessments, and carbon neutral claims to third-party verification against a recognized verification or assurance standard such as ISO 14064 or ISAE3410 and ISAE3000
  4. Independent confirmation of the accuracy of the CarbonNeutral® communications