Product Carbon Footprint Certification | State Administration for Market of China Regulation: Establishing a Dual Carbon Certification System

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Recently, the State Administration for Market Regulation issued the 'Implementation Opinions on Coordinating the Use of Quality Certification Services in Carbon Peaking and Carbon Neutrality' (hereinafter referred to as the 'Opinions'). By 2025, China aims to establish a certification system for carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, extending from the product level to the entire industry and supply chain. This system is expected to play a crucial role in enhancing the overall governance capabilities for dual carbon objectives. Simultaneously, efforts will be made to strengthen the management of carbon-related certification rules filed by certification bodies, promoting the widespread recognition of certification results and fostering a development pattern of international cooperation and mutual trust. This article will delve into the key tasks outlined in the 'Opinions' and discuss the processes and significance of undertaking carbon footprint initiatives.

Key points interpretation of the "implementation opinions"

01 Main objectives of the "implementation opinions"

🔸 By 2025, the goal is to establish a comprehensive certification system for carbon peaking and carbon neutrality that combines both direct and indirect carbon-related aspects, integrating national unified promotion with autonomous initiatives by organizations.

🔸 The step-by-step establishment of direct carbon-related certification systems, including product carbon labeling certification, carbon-related management systems, and service certification. Simultaneously, improvement of indirect carbon-related certification systems such as green product certification, energy management system certification, and environmental management system certification.

🔸 Preliminary formation of a coordinated system promoting various certifications, ensuring standardized and orderly certification markets, broad acceptance of applications, and fostering a development pattern of international cooperation, mutual recognition, and trust. This aims to provide scientific, fair, accurate, and efficient quality certification technology services for carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.

02 Interpretation of key tasks in the "implementation opinions"

(IV) Accelerate the establishment of direct carbon-related certification systems

Considering the development needs and standards construction related to carbon reduction, carbon removal, carbon disclosure, etc., and aligning with the requirements of low-carbon transformation in the industry and supply chain, establish a robust direct carbon-related certification system based on emission verification. At the product level, systematically establish a nationally unified product carbon labeling certification system, formulate unified certification catalogs, certification implementation rules, and certification labels. Following the "mature one, establish one" principle, gradually initiate product carbon footprint and other carbon labeling certifications. Also, at the organizational and service levels, progressively establish carbon-related management systems and service certification systems.

Interpretation: The direct carbon-related certification system refers to the certification system for product carbon footprints, organizational carbon management systems (such as those for enterprises), and service certification systems for large-scale activities. For businesses, it is recommended to start with a carbon inventory, actively engage in product carbon footprint accounting and certification work, and further provide a foundational support of carbon data for the low-carbon transformation of the industry and supply chain.

(V)Coordinating the system of indirect carbon-related certification

Leverage the supporting role of product, management system, and service certifications in enhancing the governance capabilities of carbon peak and carbon neutrality. Coordinated efforts within the industry and supply chain will focus on refining existing certification systems such as green products, energy management systems, and environmental management systems. Scientifically combine and comprehensively apply these systems to form a comprehensive system of indirect carbon-related certifications.

Interpretation: The system of indirect carbon-related certifications includes certifications related to green products (considering indicators such as product carbon footprints), energy management systems (which can reduce carbon emissions in factories, data centers, buildings, etc., through energy management), and environmental management systems (which achieve pollution reduction and carbon reduction by improving technological processes and upgrading environmental protection equipment). Indirect carbon-related certifications, as an important supplement, work in conjunction with direct carbon-related certifications to serve carbon peak and carbon neutrality initiatives.

(VI) Standardizing filing of carbon-related certification rules

Strengthen the management of certification organizations filing carbon-related certification rules. To ensure compliance and scientific validity of certification rules, further clarify filing requirements, enhance quality assessment, and regulate and guide certification organizations in the independent development of market-oriented and scientifically reasonable carbon-related certification systems.

Interpretation: To avoid the misuse of non-compliant certifications and labels, certification organizations must undergo filing procedures and obtain necessary qualifications before engaging in related business. For businesses, it is essential to entrust accredited and compliant service organizations for carbon-related certification services. "Self-certification" (unverified self-identification) is not advisable. The International Textile and Apparel Double Carbon Information Disclosure Platform, in collaboration with Carbon Balance Technology and renowned certification bodies such as TUV SUD, Bureau Veritas, SGS, WIT, CTI, CQC has jointly provided widely recognized authoritative certification services (all possessing certification qualifications, as shown in the search results below) to offer customers compliant, efficient, safe, and cost-effective services for carbon footprint certification, double carbon information disclosure, green supply chain management, and related green financial services.

Partial Certification Qualification Inquiry Results of Some Collaborative Certification Bodies

(VIII) Certification pilot demonstrations

Encourage regions and industries with conditions to take the lead in practical exploration. Based on practical experience, explore pilot certifications for product carbon footprints and carbon neutrality in key areas and mature industries. Support industry leaders to leverage the "lead goose effect" and establish a batch of exemplary projects in quality certification services and regional carbon peak and carbon neutrality in key areas.

Interpretation: Currently, carbon footprint and carbon neutrality certification work in China is in the exploratory stage. Therefore, enterprises participating in pilot projects receive substantial subsidies. For example, areas such as Huangpu District in Shanghai, Shaoxing's Shangyu District and Yuecheng District, Shenzhen, and Chengdu offer certification subsidies ranging from 50,000 to 300,000 RMB for enterprises obtaining carbon footprint certification (direct carbon-related certification). Similar subsidies are provided for certifications such as green product certification and energy management system certification (indirect carbon-related certifications).

(X) Promoting the acceptance of certification results

Leverage the inter-ministerial coordination mechanism for certification recognition and promote the establishment of a multi-dimensional carbon peak and carbon neutrality certification acceptance mechanism involving the government, industry, and society. Encourage enterprises, groups, and social organizations to use certification results as evaluation criteria in procurement assessments. Promote green credit, green finance, and other preferential policies towards certified enterprises. Through carbon-inclusive mechanisms, foster low-carbon consumer behavior and encourage broad acceptance of certification results in international trade, industry management, market procurement, social governance, and other diverse areas.

Interpretation: Certification results related to carbon-related activities are becoming increasingly important in evaluating corporate performance. Leading companies in emission reduction and carbon reduction (such as Apple and Nike) have already incorporated carbon footprint and similar indicators into their supply chain procurement standards. Meanwhile, enterprises with certifications related to carbon footprint and other carbon-related activities are more likely to receive financial support through green credit and green finance (the platform disclosed a case where a textile company, Qiaotai, obtained a green loan). With the improvement and mature application of carbon-inclusive mechanisms, the popularization of green consumption concepts, and the easier market acceptance of low-carbon products, certification results will play a crucial role in international trade, supply chain procurement, and other fields.

Establishing the process and significance of carbon footprint assessment

The process of conducting a carbon footprint assessment is outlined below. It involves calculating the greenhouse gas emissions throughout the entire lifecycle of a product or service, including stages such as raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, usage, and final disposal or recycling. The emissions are quantified, and, upon successful verification by a third-party authoritative body with quality certification credentials, businesses can obtain a compliant carbon footprint certification.

Certification Service Process for Carbon Footprint

With the establishment of China's carbon peak and carbon neutrality certification system, the involvement of carbon-related certifications in the process of dual carbon governance plays an increasingly important role, posing both a challenge and a significant opportunity for enhancing ESG performance and capturing market share for enterprises.

Conducting work related to product carbon footprints helps enterprises clarify the greenhouse gas emissions throughout the product lifecycle, identify high-energy consumption and high-carbon-emission production stages, and implement targeted emission reduction measures, achieving energy savings, emission reduction, efficiency improvement, and increased sustainability.

- Understand the enterprise, reduce emissions scientifically.

By quantifying and presenting carbon emissions, enterprises can truly understand the impact of their products on climate change, fully tap into the potential for energy-saving and emission reduction, and fulfill corporate social responsibility by disclosing carbon emission information in compliance. Product carbon footprint information is often conveyed to consumers through carbon labeling, making it an essential means for enterprises to communicate product environmental impact information and guide consumers in making green purchases.

- Elevate the enterprise, attract customers.

In addition, with the continuous introduction of product carbon footprint-related laws and regulations internationally and domestically, such as the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and the Battery and Waste Battery Regulations (also known as the "New Battery Law"), the threshold for Chinese enterprises to land products in the European and American markets has been raised. Conducting product carbon footprint accounting and certification helps enterprises cope with potential risks in the process of foreign trade exports and gain priority in international orders.

- Ensure compliance certification and smooth foreign trade.