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Cookstove projects on hold as Verra investigates allegations

Thursday 27 Jun 24 10:45am


Media release | Verra has been informed of allegations concerning actions by Ken Newcombe, the former CEO of C-Quest Capital (C-Quest), reportedly resulting in the overissuance of carbon credits across 27 clean cookstove projects.

C-Quest voluntarily shared its findings with Verra and U.S. regulatory authorities. Mr. Newcombe is a former Verra board member, who resigned from the board at the end of last year.

 

Verra and the voluntary carbon market (VCM) as a whole are built on trust and integrity. We take any accusation of impropriety that undermines that trust very seriously. In light of the recent allegations, Verra will conduct an independent review of the implicated C-Quest cookstove projects and will be suspending these projects until this review is concluded. For the past 15 years, Verra has strived to ensure carbon projects are implemented in accordance with our methodologies and program rules. Our goal remains to uphold the credibility and effectiveness of the VCM.

 

If proven, these allegations would indicate serious malfeasance and a direct attack on the principles underpinning confidence in this market.  We must all work together to create a market with unquestioned integrity and transparency. On behalf of the organization, I am announcing the following actions:

 

  • Suspension of Implicated C-Quest Cookstove Projects: Verra is suspending the 27 implicated projects pending the outcome of a review. Given C-Quest’s voluntary submission of the findings and its stated commitment to cooperating with Verra, we hope to finalize this review as quickly as possible.

     

  • Facilitate Potential C-Quest Corrective Action: C-Quest has informed us that it intends to cancel the number of credits equal to the alleged over-issuance, as required under Verra’s standards. If that is determined to be an appropriate and sufficient step, Verra will facilitate that process as quickly as possible.

We would also like to highlight three key integrity actions that the Verra board and staff have initiated over the past year prior to learning of these allegations:

 

  • Review of Board Governance: Verra’s Board of Directors, led by its Governance Committee, conducted a comprehensive review of the governance of the Board. This review encompassed the Board’s governance policies, processes and procedures, including its code of conduct and conflict of interest policy. These efforts included an educational refresher for the Board regarding director duties and procedures for evaluating actual and potential conflicts of interest by Board members.

     

  • Launch of VVB Performance Management System: In January 2024, Verra established a new role for managing the performance of validation and verification bodies (VVBs), the independent, ISO-accredited auditors that review all projects in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. This effort increases Verra’s capacity to engage with these organizations and their accreditation bodies and includes mechanisms for sanctioning VVBs when appropriate.

     

  • Establishment of Quality Oversight Role: In April 2024, Verra established a dedicated function within its Program Management Department. Led by Jerry Seager in the new role of Senior Director for Program Quality, this group will oversee the adherence of our program-related operations, processes, and activities to our rules and requirements.

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