Top Five Trustworthy Carbon Offset Providers
Who are the top five carbon offset providers, and how do you decide which one to use? Here are the ones I consider the most trustworthy and reliable right now.
As I indicated in my last founder’s blog post about my environmental hypocrisy, I am buying carbon offsets to assuage my guilt over my excessive carbon emissions from air travel. It would be better not to travel at all, but I have made my bed and now have to lie in it.
The basic idea behind carbon offsetting is that for every ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) that you emit, you pay for a project that reduces emissions somewhere else, such as a renewable energy project or a reforestation program. However, as reported recently in the mainstream news media, not all carbon offset providers are created equal.
The Verra scandal uncovered by investigative journalists at the Guardian, Die Zeit, and SourceMaterial, found that a high percentage of the offsets certified by the carbon offset certifiers to the stars were actually worthless. Verra’s reporting overstated the carbon sequestration benefits of its programs and the perceived threat of deforestation, thereby showing false carbon sequestration gains. There were also allegations of human rights violations against local residents in the areas where their projects were being deployed.
This scandal raised concerns about the effectiveness and legitimacy of carbon offsetting as a whole. Because I buy them myself, it caused me personally to question the reliability of carbon offset verification systems. While the scandal did not directly affect other carbon offset companies, thankfully, it did result in increased scrutiny and regulation of the industry as a whole. As a result, many reputable carbon offset providers have strengthened their verification and reporting processes to ensure the effectiveness and legitimacy of their projects.
My goal with this article is to simply help people find good quality offsets that they can trust to deliver results and that can be relied upon.
Criteria for Trustworthiness
Before I share my picks for the top five carbon offset providers, it is important to establish criteria for determining trustworthiness. When looking for a carbon offset provider, you want to ensure that the offset you purchase is credible, transparent, and effective.
Here are the key factors to consider:
- Third-party verification: A trustworthy carbon offset provider will have their projects verified by a third party. This ensures that the carbon offset is legitimate and meets the necessary standards.
- Transparency and accountability: All providers should be transparent about their processes, including how they choose their projects, how they measure and report emissions reductions, and how they allocate funds.
- Additionality: The offset project must result in additional emission reductions that would not have occurred without the offset funding.
- Credibility and reputation: The provider should have a good track record of delivering on its projects effectively and credibly.
- Project types: There are different types of carbon offset projects, such as renewable energy, forestry, carbon capture technology, and energy efficiency. A trustworthy provider should offer a variety of projects to choose from, so you can find one that aligns with your values and interests.
Trustworthy Carbon Offset Providers
- Carbonfund.org is a non-profit organization that offers carbon offset projects in renewable energy, reforestation, and energy efficiency. All of their projects are verified by third parties and meet the highest standards, such as the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standards. Carbonfund.org is transparent about its projects, and they report emissions reductions annually. Their website also offers a free calculator that allows you to estimate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets based on your specific emissions. Carbonfund.org is a member of the Carbon Offset Quality Initiative, a group of offset providers that meet the highest quality standards in the industry.
- Climate Impact Partners (formerly ClimateCare) is a UK-based carbon offset provider that has been in service for over 20 years. They offer a range of carbon offset projects, such as renewable energy, forestry, and clean cookstoves. All of their projects are verified by third parties, and they are transparent about their processes and reporting. Climate Impact Partners also offers a “ClimateCare Standard,” which goes beyond basic offsetting standards to ensure their projects have the maximum positive impact on the environment and local communities. They also offer a unique feature where they can calculate the amount of carbon offset needed to achieve a specific reduction target, making their offsets even more tailored to the individual or company’s needs.
- The Gold Standard is a non-profit organization that certifies carbon offset projects and sets the highest standards for carbon offsetting. Their projects meet rigorous criteria for additionality, environmental integrity, and sustainable development. They offer a range of carbon offset projects, such as renewable energy, reforestation, and water purification. Gold Standard offsets are verified by third parties, and they are transparent about their processes and reporting. The Gold Standard also provides a calculator that allows you to estimate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets based on your specific emissions
- Terrapass is a carbon offset provider that offers a variety of projects, including renewable energy, forestry, and landfill gas capture. They are transparent about their projects and reporting, and all of their projects are verified by third parties. Terrapass is unique in that they offer a “carbon footprint calculator” that allows you to calculate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets based on your specific emissions. Their “EcoTourist” offset bundle helps recreational travellers offset their trips, and a “Green Wedding” program allows couples to offset the carbon emissions of their wedding. An “Event Calculator” allows a planner to understand the complete carbon footprint of an event, such as a trade conference and the ability to purchase offsets for it.
- NativeEnergy is a carbon offset provider specializing in renewable energy projects. They offer a variety of projects, such as wind, solar, and biogas, and all of their projects are verified by third parties. NativeEnergy is unique in offering “help build” projects, which allow individuals and companies to contribute to constructing a new renewable energy project. NativeEnergy also provides detailed reporting on their projects and the emissions reductions achieved.
Choosing a trustworthy carbon offset provider can also provide additional benefits beyond carbon offsetting. For example, Gold Standard and Native listed above offer community and sustainability benefits, such as supporting local communities, protecting biodiversity, and promoting clean energy. Others, such as Carbon Fund and Climate Impact Partners, work on a larger scale with larger corporate partners meaning their projects may have a larger overall impact.
There are many other offsets available, some larger and some smaller, and I am unable to validate and list them all. But be aware; where there is a transction, there are also usually scammers out there willing to relieve you of your hard-earned money. Use your own best judgment and be intentional in how you spend your money in this sector.
Carbon offsetting is an important tool in the fight against climate change, but it’s important to choose a trustworthy provider to ensure that your investment is effective and legitimate. By considering factors such as third-party verification, transparency, additionality, credibility, and project types, you can find a provider that meets your needs and values.
I have a bunch of travel this year, and I am happy to say I will be using two of the five listed above. If you would like to know which ones and why, please email me to find out.
Thanks! Good to know.
please I would like to get information about carbon offset projects in agriculture..
I will take a look and see what I can find. If I can, I will write a follow up article to this one.
Thank you, Grant!