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
 

07.Unaccredited offsets

Some offset providers that didn’t complete the Carbon Offset Watch survey sell offsets that aren’t accredited or certified by an independent scheme. Therefore, they’re not recommended. Without third-party accreditation and certification, there isn’t enough evidence or independent verification that your money will be used to deliver real additional greenhouse gas reductions.

We did some additional research, separate to Carbon Offset Watch, into some of the unaccredited offsets on the market. Many of the companies selling unaccredited offsets are selling tree-planting or forestry offsets, ranging in price from $12 to $24 per tonne of CO2 (that's within the range of prices for accredited offsets in the table).

While planting trees has environmental benefits other than sequestering carbon (for example, contributing to biodiversity), if you want to help combat climate changes, CO Watch considers tree-planting projects less beneficial in the long-term and riskier than renewable energy, energy efficiency and the prevention of waste going to landfill. Some of the companies selling unaccredited offsets are:

  • Canopy, which has applied for accreditation of its offsets under Greenhouse Friendly. It can also sell other companies’ Greenhouse Friendly accredited offsets.
  • Carbon Conscious, which lodged its application for Greenhouse Friendly accredited offsets in July 2008 and has yet to sell any carbon offsets to consumers.
  • Carbon Neutral (Australia). Donations are tax deductible, as the organisation has not-for-profit charitable status. It says each $3 donation results in one tree being planted. Accredited offsets (VERs+) can also be purchased from the company.
  • Elementree Inc. Another registered charity (payments for offsets are considered tax-deductible donations). However, no offsets have been available since 2007. They’ll be available again if / when offsets from a related company, Elementree Ltd, achieve Greenhouse Friendly certification.
  • Greenhouse Balanced. It says Greenhouse Friendly accreditation would cost between $50,000 and $100,000, which would be passed on to consumers in higher offset prices. Greenhouse Balanced calls its offsets ‘Ecological credits’, but its partner, Bendigo Bank, sells them as ‘carbon offsets’.
 

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