A carbon offset is an intangible commodity representing a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, sold in units of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e). In the voluntary market, it is purchased to negate or diminish the impact of the recipient’s own GHG emissions. Reductions occur at projects located away from the source of emissions being offset.
Projects may be evaluated and reductions verified according to various offset project standards in the market. The programs administering these standards will certify verified reductions from qualified projects as carbon credits. Once issued, these credits are often bought wholesale by offset sellers or retailers that repackage the reductions into carbon products (offsets), which they then sell on to end-use businesses and individuals seeking to make an offset claim. Retail carbon offset certification standards, such as Green-e Climate, verify transparency and ownership in sales to end-use customers.
Consumers purchasing Green-e Climate certified offsets are guaranteed complete and exclusive ownership of their emission reductions and receive clear and comprehensive information on the projects their offsets are sourced from. The program also verifies that all GHG emissions reduction projects are independently certified through a high-quality project-level standard body such as VCS, CAR, ACR, and the Gold Standard.