How do we assess offset quality?
A high-quality carbon credit accurately or conservatively represents greenhouse gas emission reductions or removals achieved through Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) activities.
Baseline emissions are the reference against which GHG reductions or removals are calculated.
Carbon offset projects are additional if they would not have occurred in the absence of the revenues from the carbon credits.
Leakage refers to the displacement or unintended increases in GHG emissions caused by a project outside of its boundary.
Offset credits must be associated with GHG reductions that are permanent. If an emission reduction or removal can be reversed then it does not serve as a compensatory tool.
Who governs VCM integrity?
– The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market is an independent governance body focused on setting and enforcing global standards for the development of high-quality carbon credits.
– The Stockholm Environment Institute is an international organisation producing independent, peer-reviewed research on a range of environmental and social subjects. They published the Offset Guide which addressed common concerns about carbon credits.
– The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Offsetting are a set of guidelines developed by climate scientists from the University of Oxford. The Oxford Principles demonstrate how a net zero society can be achieved with the utilisation of carbon offsets and the voluntary carbon market.
What basic questions can buyers ask to screen for low quality projects?
1. Look for offsets that are third-party verified
Projects registered at reputable, established standards have been through robust frameworks.
2. Consider the type of project
Researching the history and methodology of your chosen project type is important in making sure it has a high likelihood of reducing or removing the expected volume of greenhouse gases.
3. Check for permanent carbon reductions
Look for carbon projects that result in permanent carbon reductions to ensure that you are supporting projects with lasting climate benefits to back up any offset claim.
4. Look for transparency and accountability
Look for developers that have a good reputation and a track record of successfully implementing offset projects.
5. Consider the price
Cheap is often synonymous with low quality. If a project is selling offset credits for a price below $2 per tonne then it can be hard to argue that the project truly depended on offset credit revenue for its implementation.