Carbon Offsets are for individuals, businesses, and organizations that have made initial efforts to reduce their impact on the environment through reducing their use of fossil fuels and are now interested in using carbon offsets to further mitigate their impact on the climate.
Carbon offsets are a form of trade or a service. When you buy an offset, you fund projects that reduce CO2 emissions. The projects might invest in renewable energies like solar or wind, they may restore forests, update power plants and factories or increase the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation. Basically you are paying someone else to create greenhouse gas reductions on your behalf.
An excellent guide has been produced by the The David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute to help Canadian consumers, businesses, and organizations assess the quality of carbon offsets and the reliability of the vendors that sell them.
Questions to ask about Offsets
An excerpt from the The David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute guide is produced below.
- What is/are the specific offset project type(s) (e.g. wind farm, methane recovery, etc.) in your portfolio, and where are the carbon offset projects located?
- Have your carbon offsets been certified to a recognized standard (Gold Standard, CDM, VCS, Climate Action Reserve, Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy, etc.) to ensure quality? If so, please list the standard(s).
- What steps have you taken to ensure that the carbon offsets you are selling are additional?
- How do you ensure that the greenhouse gas reductions that your carbon offsets represent were quantified accurately?
- Are 100 per cent of your offsets validated and verified by accredited third party auditors?
- If you are selling offsets that will be created in the future (i.e., through forward crediting), what mechanisms (insurance or otherwise) have you put in place to ensure those offsets will actually be delivered?
- What percentage of your portfolio (by tonnes of CO2e) is made up of offsets from tree planting or agricultural soils projects? If it is a significant percentage (more than 20% of your portfolio), how do you attempt to address permanence risks?
- Do you use a publicly accessible registry to track and retire your offsets? If yes, please list the website. If not, how do you ensure that your offsets are only sold to one buyer?
- What is your organization doing to educate consumers about climate change and the need for government policy to deal with it?
- Are you a member of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA), which has a Code of Best Practice that members must adhere to?
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