The carbon markets have seen pretty monumental growth over the last few years, as both businesses and individuals look for ways to help to mitigate our climate crisis. However, we also see a wealth of skepticism about whether certain offset projects really 'do what they say on the tin'.
Whilst there has certainly been some sensationalism in the press relating to 'junk offsets', we must say that, in many cases, the criticisms are warranted.
We are unable to dissect the entire world of offsets in one article alone, but you will find below a list of some of the key quality criteria that must be assessed to ensure that an offset project really does what it promises.
Could this project have happened anyway, without the carbon offset funding?
One of the primary criteria for assessing offsets is additionality. This concept assesses whether reduction or removal of emissions would have occurred without the credit funding. In other words, the project's impact must go above and beyond what would have happened under business-as-usual scenarios.
Example of additionality issue:
A large-scale wind farm in parts of the western world where there already exists enough financial incentive for the wind project to exist anyway. This would not be additional.