Greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets have long been promoted as an important element of a comprehensive climate policy approach. Offset programs can reduce the overall cost of achieving a given emission goal by enabling emission reductions to occur where costs are lower. Offsets have the potential to deliver sustainability co-benefits, through technology development and transfer. They can also develop human and institutional capacity for reducing emissions in sectors and locations not included in a cap and trade or a mandatory government policy. However, offsets can pose a risk to the environmental integrity of climate actions, especially if issues surrounding additionality, permanence, leakage, quantification and verification are not adequately addressed. The challenge is to design offset programs and policies that can maximize their potential benefits while minimizing their potential risks.
This handbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of existing offset programs. It looks at what offsets are, how offset mechanisms function, and the successes and pitfalls they have encountered. Coverage includes offset programs across the full swath of applications including mandatory and voluntary systems, government regulated and private markets, carbon offset funds, and accounting and reporting protocols such as the WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol and ISO 14064. Learning from the successes and failures of these programs will be essential to crafting effective climate policy. This is an essential reference for all regulators, policy makers, business leaders and NGOs concerned with the design and operation of GHG offset programs world-wide. Published with SEI
Table of Contents
Introduction A Comparison of Offset Programs International Offset Mechanisms Offset Features of Cap and Trade Systems Offset Features of Other GHG Systems Greenhouse Gas Accounting Protocols Voluntary GHG Standards Carbon Offset Funds Glossary References
Anja Kollmuss works in the Climate and Energy Programme at SEI. Her current research focuses on cap-and-trade systems and carbon offset programs. Michael Lazarus works in the Climate and Energy Programme at SEI and directs the Seattle office of SEI-US. His current work focuses climate policy design at state, regional, and national levels, and on offsets and other mitigation finance mechanisms. Carrie Lee works in the Climate and Energy Programme at SEI. Her current work focuses on forestry and land use climate policy. Maurice LeFranc works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Division in the Office of Air and Radiation. His current work focuses on carbon markets and offset systems, international climate change policy focusing on mitigation opportunities. Clifford Polycarp is an associate with the Climate and Energy Programme at SEI.
'The most comprehensive guide available to carbon offset programs around the world.' Derik Broekhoff, Vice President, Policy, Climate Action Reserve 'This handbook is the most comprehensive guide available to carbon offset programs around the world. An invaluable aid for anyone seeking to make sense of the global thicket of offset standards, rules, and systems, both voluntary and regulatory.' Derik Broekhoff, Vice President, Policy, Climate Action Reserve 'This reference work provides a uniquely comprehensive collection of facts and analysis on the numerous offset mechanisms in play across the world. I recommend it to anyone interested in the issue of offsets.' Jean-Jacques Becker, Assistant Director, French Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development 'A must-have resource for state and local policymakers interested in developing offset policies and programs.' Janice Adair, Special Assistant, Washington State Department of Ecology 'SEI is establishing itself as the 'go-to' source for comprehensive, unbiased information about the rapidly changing field of greenhouse gas offsets. This book will be an extremely valuable reference in a field where the lack of reliable data is a continual challenge.' Alexia Kelly, Senior Associate, Climate and Energy Program, World Resources Institute 'A uniquely comprehensive compendium on greenhouse gas offset programs throughout the world. And a wonderful reference for anyone from project developers to treaty negotiators.' Michael Gillenwater, Dean, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute 'This book provides a comprehensive overview of existing greenhouse gas offset programs with a keen eye to issues, options and alternatives. Policy makers, stakeholders and those interested in the development of a comprehensive market for greenhouse gas emission reductions, will find it a useful reference.' Janet Peace, Vice President for Markets and Business Strategy, Pew Center on Global Climate Change 'This book provides an excellent overview of the rules for offsetting projects in different programs around the globe. It should be a definitive reference for anyone who wants to understand the key issues and differences in the various offsetting schemes.' Lambert Schneider, Oeko-Institut