Carbon offsets

Carbon offsets pay for projects that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Are they all equal?
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  • Updated:16 Sep 2008

06.Accreditation standards

The carbon offset world is awash with confusing jargon and acronyms. Here’s a brief description of the accreditation standards, in order of their Carbon Offset Watch score.

  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (100%) A standard administered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It allows accredited projects to generate credits that can be sold to meet obligations under the Kyoto protocol (for example, developed countries can meet their Kyoto targets by financing projects that reduce emissions in developing countries). But these offsets are also sold in the voluntary market to consumers.
  • The Gold Standard (100%) Developed by environmental group WWF with other NGOs, governments and industry groups. It focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy offsets, excluding forestry and land use projects.
  • Greenhouse Friendly (95%) The Australian government scheme for voluntary carbon offsets, administered by the federal Department of Climate Change.
  • VER+ (95%) A carbon offset standard that focuses on greenhouse gas reductions, created by a German company, TÜV SUD.
  • Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) (95%) Founded by not-for-profit organisation The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Credits created under VCS are traded in the voluntary market as Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs).
  • Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS) (95%) A mandatory government scheme in ACT and NSW which aims to reduce the emissions from electricity generation and use. The resulting Greenhouse Gas Abatement Credits (GGACs) created can be sold as offsets on the voluntary market.
  • Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) Certificates (70%) MRET is the Australian government’s target for renewable energy generation. In 2007 the government committed to generating 20% of Australia’s energy from renewable sources, by the year 2020. Plans to meet the new target are currently the subject of a public consultation. Electricity retailers must contribute to this target by supporting renewable energy through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which are created when clean energy is produced. Households with solar photovoltaic (PV) and hot-water systems can also create and sell the RECs they get when they buy these systems — see Solar hot water systems for more.

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