Helping clients navigate the world of carbon credits and offsets
Getting it Straight: carbon credits vs. offsets
There is plenty of confusion in the quickly evolving world of carbon mechanisms as industry races to set and meet decarbonization targets and timelines.
For many corporations seeking to operate sustainably, much of their carbon footprint sits in their supply chain and not within their immediate control. Although supply chain pressures can work to help manage these upstream and downstream sources, certain organizations are seeking carbon accounting mechanisms, such as credits and offsets, to help them achieve neutrality in an accelerated fashion.
These two terms are used interchangeably, as they are both based on the universal measure of a tonne of CO2, but they differ slightly in their meaning and application. Specifically, a carbon offset refers to the removal of Greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the atmosphere, whereas a carbon credit refers to a reduction in GHGs released to the atmosphere.
The most common offset activity is the sequestration of CO2 emissions already in the atmosphere into a bound, incorporated or contained state where they can no longer exert their deleterious climate changing impacts, often through planting of trees, capturing methane gas emissions, etc. These offsets generated by companies doing the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere can then be sold to companies that emit, or have emitted, CO2 to the atmosphere.
Carbon credits are most commonly created by governments or regulators who seek to limit emissions by the creation of ‘caps’ (ie. maximums) for emitters to abide by. Those organizations that can successfully reduce their emissions to below the defined ‘cap’ can then sell this excess ‘cap space’ to other companies unable (or unwilling) to reduce to the prescribed cap as part of so-called ‘cap and trade’ schemes. Carbon credits are generally transacted in the carbon compliance market, whereas offsets are generally transacted in the voluntary carbon market.
Apart from the decarbonization initiatives and projects that RINA is proud to support, these voluntary carbon markets are currently an area of great interest for our clients’ net-zero journeys, as the search for independently validated and verified offsets intensifies. A relatable consumer example would be the air traveler who purchases an offset for their emissions generated by a long haul flight from a voluntary carbon market program in order to maintain their own carbon footprint ‘neutrality’. However, not all of these programs offer independently validated and verified carbon accounting, which is where we come in.
How can RINA help?
We are proud to offer a wide range of carbon market solutions to support our client's net-zero and decarbonization needs, including many of the major programs currently available on the market.
We are accredited by:
VERRA, under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and under the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCB) for supporting land use projects in addressing climate change, supporting local communities and stakeholders and conserving biodiversity. CCB can also be used in conjunction with VCS to increase the value of the carbon credits claimed.
VERRA, under the SDVista standard for certifying a project’s sustainable development impacts in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDVISta can also be coupled with VCS in increasing the value of the carbon credits claimed.
the Gold Standard Foundation, under their Gold Standard for the Global Goals (GS4GG)
the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) under the industry-leading Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which commits developed countries to reduce GHG emissions
the Social Carbon Foundation under the Social Carbon Standard (SCS), another internationally recognized GHG standard focused on nature-based solutions.
Through these accreditations, our role is generally to conduct the independent certification assessment as third-party validator and verifier in our recognized role as a Validation and Verification Body (VVB). This role can differ based on the nature of the mechanism, scope and program.
With such a broad and impressive range of carbon mechanism certification services, we are able to support our clients, from Forestry to Digital, Manufacturing to Automotive industries, as they work to reduce their direct, indirect and supply chain related carbon footprints.
Contact us and let know how we can support your carbon credit or offset verification, validation and other Sustainability and ESG Assurance needs