What is carbon offset?
A carbon offset is measured as one metric ton of CO2e that has been either reduced or removed from the atmosphere. These emissions reductions or removals are produced as a result of carbon offset projects. Companies that need to offset their greenhouse gas emissions can purchase carbon offsets produced by other entities. In addition, individuals and companies can purchase carbon offsets to voluntarily offset their emissions.
What is the difference between the voluntary and compliance based carbon markets?
Voluntary markets allow organizations to offset their emissions through the voluntary purchase of offset credits. Each credit is equivalent to one ton of CO2, quantified according to an offset protocol that has been approved under a voluntary registry such as Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard, and the American Carbon Registry.
Compliance markets result from regulation intended to enforce a cap on single-source emissions. Typically the regulatory body establishes an emissions threshold, referred to as a cap; facilities responsible for more emissions than the cap are required to purchase offset credits to bring their emissions levels back below the regulation’s critical line. The California Air Resources Board is the only compliance market we currently work in.
Which registries are available in the North America?
The main offset registries are the Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, American Carbon Registry, the California Air Resources Board, Alberta Emission Offset System Registry, and Climate Conservation and Biodiversity Standard.
All of these registries have developed their own offset protocols that provide guidance on quantifying emissions reductions.
Why do carbon offset projects need to be verified?
Verification helps maintain the integrity of the market by affirming that all carbon offset projects are credible, transparent, complete, permanent, and accurate.
How are offset projects verified?
Verification processes and requirements differ among registries. Generally, registries require a Conflict of Interest (COI) form and a Notification of Verification Services (NOVS) form. In addition, most registries expect project teams to develop a verification plan, hold a kick-off meeting, review documentation from the project developer supporting the project, and document project conformance with eligibility rules. In some cases, members of the verification team also conduct sampling onsite.
The verification body then reports the findings, including a list of all nonconformities to be resolved before the verification can be finalized. Once the nonconformities have been resolved, the verification team draws up a final summary report, which is approved internally and by the client prior to submittal to the registry.
How long does the verification process take and what will it cost?
There are a number of factors that determine the length and cost of the verification process including the client’s timeline, the size and type of the project, the depth of verification (on-site or desktop), and the registry body’s standards.