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Climate ChangeCarbon Offset Verification: Are Your Offsets Legit?

Carbon Offset Verification: Are Your Offsets Legit?

As we proceed burning fossil fuels for the whole lot from energy to transportation, the world continues getting hotter. This human-influenced climate change and global warming is causing severe weather patterns and will worsen without swift motion. 

Many individuals look to do their part by offsetting their carbon footprints with carbon offset credits. But how do you already know these carbon offsets are going toward supporting projects which are really helping us lower our overall greenhouse gas emissions? 

Fortunately, there are carbon offset verification processes that help confirm and certify a carbon offset program is legit. Below, we outline the carbon offset verification process, what makes a carbon offset good, how carbon registries play a task, and more. 

How are carbon offsets verified?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single governing body that certifies carbon offsets. As a substitute, a set of nonprofit third-party corporations check carbon offset claims, ensure they’re valid, and certify the carbon offsets. 

A number of the larger nonprofits that confirm carbon offsets include: 

  • The Gold Standard 
  • Climate Motion Reserve 
  • American Carbon Registry 
  • Verra 
  • CDM 
  • SCS Global Services 
  • Green-e Climate Standard 

Each of those nonprofits has its own methodology for verifying carbon offsets, however the fundamental goal is to make sure the offset program is legitimate, helping the environment through greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, accomplished as promised, and above and beyond the traditional operations of the entity applying for the offset. 

Are carbon offsets legitimate?

When looking to scale back your carbon footprint, you’ll likely come across the choice of buying carbon offsets. These offsets are designed to counter your carbon footprint by funding programs that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions or perform sequestration through technological updates to existing facilities, sustainable development, enhanced energy efficiency, reforestation, and more. 

But are these carbon reductions truly legit and effective at GHG emission reductions? That is determined by the offset itself and whether or not it’s verified and vetted by a trusted third party. 

Nonprofit corporations, just like the ones listed above, perform verification to vet carbon offset programs and ensure they’re legitimate, effective, and never wasting your investment. 

So long as you buy an offset credit that’s been through one in every of these necessary independent third-party carbon offset verification processes, you possibly can rest assured you’re coping with a legitimate carbon offset. 

What makes a superb carbon offset?

Carbon Removal per Way of Green Energy Image of Windmillssource

The last word purpose of a carbon offset is to neutralize an entity’s unavoidable GHG emissions through other actions. Essentially, a high-quality carbon offset project delivers the identical results as if the organization trimmed its carbon footprint by the identical level. 

While that is the fundamental idea of carbon offsets, evaluating the whole quality of carbon reduction projects requires six key tests. 


An excellent carbon offset project is additional, meaning the reduced carbon emissions from the project wouldn’t have occurred if the carbon credit funding didn’t exist. So, if an organization already budgeted for clean energy, equivalent to solar panels, wind power, or hydropower, to produce energy to its constructing, then received carbon credit funding to put in it, this may not be a superb carbon offset since it was already planned and budgeted by the business. 

Nevertheless, if that company had no plans to put in the panels and the funding paid for the panels, thereby reducing its carbon footprint, this may be a superb carbon offset. 

There’s also policy-level additionality, meaning the project goes above and beyond national or international climate policies. So, if a project simply adheres to local or national policies already in place, it isn’t additional. 

Properly estimated

One other sign of a superb carbon offset is the project properly estimates and counts its emission reductions. Low-quality carbon offsets are inclined to overestimate their GHG emissions reductions to sell more carbon offset credits. 

This often happens when carbon reduction project developers overestimate their baseline emissions, that are GHG emissions that occurred before carbon-reducing strategies are put into place. 


Permanence is one other key indicator of a superb carbon offset project. Because of this the GHG emissions offset by the project are everlasting and have virtually no likelihood of being re-emitted into the atmosphere. 

For instance, say an organization receives carbon credits for planting 5,000 trees on its property. Nevertheless, 10 years later, it cuts and burns those trees to make room for expansions. The deforestation and burning make this offset temporary and never good. 

The GHG emission should be kept out of the atmosphere for 100 years to be considered everlasting. 


An excellent carbon offset credit can also be exclusive, meaning it can’t be claimed by one other entity, which is named double counting. 

There are 4 fundamental forms of double counting, which could be done intentionally or unintentionally. The 4 fundamental forms of double counting include:  

  • Double claiming: When GHG emission reductions are claimed by multiple organizations  
  • Double selling: When an entity sells the identical GHG profit greater than once  
  • Double accounting against a goal: When GHG reductions are accounted for greater than once  
  • Double counting of a unit: When GHG reductions are unitized and available under multiple mechanisms or products. 

No social or environmental harm

Reducing GHG emissions and getting closer to a net-zero carbon is great, but not if it comes on the expense of other environmental or social issues. For instance, if an organization offsets tonnes of carbon by planting 5,000 trees, but this tree planting severely damages the soil in the realm, this isn’t a superb carbon offset project. 

Third-party verification

The ultimate sign of a superb carbon offset program is one which’s certified by an accredited third-party verification body, equivalent to those listed above. The verification activities will vary between providers, but all of them aim to substantiate that these carbon offset programs uphold their guarantees, don’t waste funds, and reduce their carbon footprint sustainably. 

Who can certify carbon credits?

Carbon Removal Results in Clean Healthy Forestrysource

Carbon credit certification happens through the aforementioned accredited third-party verification bodies, equivalent to: 

  • The Gold Standard 
  • Climate Motion Reserve 
  • American Carbon Registry 
  • Verra 
  • CDM 
  • SCS Global Services 
  • Green-e Climate Standard 

Purchasing certified carbon credits helps make sure that what you’re buying meets all the necessities for a high-quality carbon offset program. 

What’s carbon verification?

Carbon verification is when a third-party verification organization inspects a carbon offset program and ensures it meets its standards. If this system meets the standards, the carbon offset credits are verified, making them protected for consumers to buy and offset their very own carbon footprint. 

Each third party has its own verification process, but the worldwide standard is the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Verra, one in every of the various third-party verification organizations, oversees the VCS program and rules. 

VCS’ rules and regulations ensure all GHG removals or reductions are: 

  • Real and measurable 
  • Additional 
  • Conservative 
  • Everlasting 
  • Independently verified 
  • Uniquely numbered and transparently listed 

What’s a carbon offset registry?

When carbon offsets are granted, they have to be entered in a registry for tracking. Registries are entities that track carbon offset projects and issue carbon offset credits for every certified or verified unit of emission reduction or removal. In addition they track carbon offset ownership. 

Carbon offset registries attach a serial number to every verified or certified offset credit and transfer the serial number between owners when it’s sold or involved in a trade program. Once an owner uses a carbon offset credit, the registry retires the serial number, stopping resale and reuse. 

These registries are why offsets have develop into a reputable and fungible commodity through the years. 

One such registry is the American Carbon Registry (ACR). It oversees the carbon offset projects’ registration and verification within the voluntary carbon market. It also oversees California’s cap-and-trade program 

Beyond ACR, there are other voluntary market registries, including APX Inc., Markit, and Verra. 

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How do you certify carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality, like carbon offset credits, requires verification or certification. Again, that is all handled by independent third-party organizations specializing on this area. 

If an organization wishes to develop into certified as net-zero, it starts with reaching out to one in every of the certification organizations, equivalent to Pathzero, CarbonNeutral, or SCS Global Services. These corporations will explain the necessities to develop into certified carbon neutral. 

For instance, Pathzero requires an organization to measure its scope 1, 2, and three emissions for 12 months inside a single fiscal or calendar yr to create a complete carbon footprint. The corporate must then discover carbon reduction opportunities and plan for and enact at the least three carbon reduction initiatives. Then, the corporate can offset any additional carbon footprint through purchasing carbon offsets. 

After reducing or offsetting its carbon footprint, the corporate then has Pathzero are available to confirm and validate the work. The corporate then enters a license agreement with Pathzero to make sure it continues meeting its net-zero status. 

What does it mean to buy carbon offsets?

If you purchase a carbon offset, you’re buying greater than just a chunk of paper or data saying you paid to offset your carbon footprint. As a substitute, you’re purchasing an organization’s commitment to remove a certain quantity of GHG emissions. 

By purchasing a carbon offset, you might be paying to offset the quantity of carbon emissions involved in your life. For instance, in case you take business air travel, you might be accountable for a portion of the carbon emissions from the plane you took. While you possibly can’t absorb these emissions yourself, you possibly can offset them by purchasing a carbon offset credit. 

Which is the most effective carbon offset company?

You possibly can select from many corporations to buy carbon offsets from. Some are relatively easy and offer only the fundamentals. Others, equivalent to Terrapass, offer a big selection of offset options to suit all of your needs. 

Terrapass’ offerings include: 

With all these options and versatile offset pricing to suit your budget, Terrapass is definitely top-of-the-line carbon offset corporations within the U.S. 

Carbon offset verification ensures your offsets are helping

Carbon Removal Per Way of Solar as an Alternativesource

Anyone can say they promise to scale back their carbon footprint and seek funding to achieve this. But funding this project may not actually help the environment if there’s no carbon offset verification in place. 

Carbon offset verification ensures the corporate is working to scale back its carbon footprint and can achieve this sustainably, permanently, and without other negative social or environmental impacts. This provides the carbon offset buyer peace of mind knowing they’re doing their part to guard the environment with these credits. 

Terrapass offers a big selection of carbon offset credits, and every is independently verified on the project level by a 3rd party to make sure we work with only the most effective carbon offset programs. Select from Terrapass’ various carbon credit packages or perhaps a monthly subscription plan for continuous offsetting. 

Dropped at you by terrapass.com
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