:: Policy Benefits of Offsets »
As climate legislation, rules, and regulations are developed in the United States and abroad, every greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction available to policymakers will be necessary to achieve the dramatic emission cuts required to avoid catastrophic climate change. Among the most important, complex, and controversial of these tools is the use of GHG offsets.
An offset represents the reduction, removal, or avoidance of GHG emissions from a specific project that is used to compensate for GHG emissions occurring elsewhere. Offsets are an established component of emission reduction regimes across the globe, including the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and the Oregon and Washington Carbon Dioxide Standards. The incorporation of offsets into U.S. climate policy will also be an important component of integrating and harmonizing a U.S. system with existing and future international climate change mitigation frameworks.
The debate over the use of offsets stands at a critical juncture in the United States. As climate change takes an increasingly prominent role in the public eye, offsets have come under growing criticism from the media and others concerned with their effectiveness in achieving real reductions in greenhouse gas levels. This criticism has been fueled by many factors, including the growing and unregulated voluntary offsets market, a diversity of competing standards, and the existence of offset projects of dubious quality. It is precisely due to this rising level of debate, criticism and confusion over the use of offsets that OQI has emerged to provide a unified, non-partisan, credible, and impartial source of information regarding GHG offsets.
Policy Benefits of Offsets »
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The work of the Offset Quality Initiative is generously supported by the Energy Foundation.