top of page

CDR Certification Governance

To meet climate goals, rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions must be complemented by gigaton-scale carbon dioxide removal (CDR). The effectiveness of CDR hinges on the integrity of the CDR certification system. This system links project developers with buyers by certifying that removals have occurred under high-quality requirements, therefore mobilizing funding and potentially facilitating the integration of CDR into climate policies. To build and maintain trust in the integrity of the certification system, good governance, characterized by well-defined structures and processes, is essential to direct the behavior of all involved actors. Drawing from 20 in-depth interviews with system actors and industry experts, this report dives into the diverse perspectives on current challenges, opportunities, and future trajectories for the governance of CDR certification in the voluntary carbon market (VCM). It aims to provide clarity to system actors, policymakers, and other stakeholders looking to navigate the CDR certification system and improve the quality of its outcomes.


Despite broad consensus on the necessity for high-quality CDR certification, the criteria for what constitutes ‘high quality’, and which CDR credits qualify under this definition remain debated. We identify two categories of principles for high-quality CDR certificates: CDR principles that determine the quality of CDR activities – quantified, durable, additional, and sustainable – and governance principles that determine the quality of the system’s governance – consistent, robust, fair, and transparent –, and use the governance principles to guide our analysis.


Building on learnings from the interviews and complemented by insights from other industries, our analysis dives into five governance topics:

  • Consistent quality requirements

  • Payment structures and incentives

  • Reversal mechanisms and liability

  • Stakeholder engagement and grievance mechanisms

  • Transparency across the certification system


There is a broad spectrum of opinions and expectations on what constitutes ‘good governance’ in the CDR certification system and how it should evolve as the CDR ecosystem matures. While there is at least partial consensus on the importance and underlying challenges of the five governance topics discussed in this report, opinions differ widely on possible solutions. This underscores the complexity of the system and the endeavor to establish and maintain trust through effective governance. Regardless of the future market structure, governance frameworks will continue to build on the insights and experiences from current practices and other industries to enhance the integrity of CDR certification.


suslab_CDR Certification Governance
Download PDF • 2.17MB

bottom of page