Strategies for Avoiding Lower-Quality Offset Credits

Strategies for Avoiding Lower-Quality Offset Credits

As the prior sections make clear, carbon credits are not a typical commodity. Although crediting programs provide some assurance, purchasing high-quality carbon credits is not as simple as buying any “certified” credit issued by a crediting program. Some credit buyers can invest the time and resources to research and discover good projects and procure high-quality credits. For many (if not most) buyers, that approach is not realistic. In this section, we describe – and assess the pros and cons of – some strategies for steering clear of lower-quality carbon credits. These include:

Less reliable methods

  • Buying credits issued by independently recognized crediting programs
  • Avoiding cheaper credits
  • Avoiding older credit “vintages”
  • Making up for low-quality by “discounting” or “over-buying”

More reliable methods

  • Sticking to lower risk project types
  • Buying credits from trusted exchanges or retailers
  • Buying credits from projects certified against independently assessed, higher-quality methodologies

Most reliable methods

  • Buying credits from projects rated highly by independent rating services
  • Vetting crediting projects directly