Why does ICROA matter?
Voluntarily taking action to reduce and offset carbon emissions is an essential action in mitigating climate change.
Various actors are available to support organisations and individuals in their efforts. ICROA provides assurance to consumers that the services its own members provide are conducted to internationally recognised best practices.
ICROA advocates for a reduce and offset approach to carbon management requiring its members to provide advice on how their customers can achieve emissions reductions at least cost.
Credible Carbon Management:
It is important when managing carbon, to measure emissions to agreed international standards. ICROA members are required to provide organisation footprints in accordance with the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting Standard (2nd Edition, 2005) and ISO 14064-1:2006.
What is offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is the practice of compensating for greenhouse gas emissions by retiring carbon credits. A Carbon Credit is a tradable, non-tangible instrument representing a unit of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) – typically one tonne - that is reduced, avoided or sequestered by a project and is certified/verified to an internationally recognised carbon accounting standard.
What is the purpose of offsetting and why choose to offset your emissions?
Offsetting funds effective global reductions in emissions that would otherwise not occur. It does so by channeling financial support to projects that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Consequently, offsetting provides an economic way for individuals and businesses to support carbon reductions in addition to those that can be accomplished by achieving improved carbon efficiency in internal operations.
Projects are often located in less developed nations and can support sustainable development objectives, in some cases providing social and economic benefits to the local area. This is often termed as co-benefits.
How do offsets fit into a organisations's strategy to reduce its GHG footprint?
After an organisation has measured its GHG footprint and determined its major sources of emissions, it will determine where it can reduce emissions in its daily operations. Improving energy efficiency is a simple example. Cutting back on business travel and relying on video conferencing may be another, there are a whole host of tools and measures that can be taken to reduce internal emissions. Such actions represent the "reduce" portion of the "reduce and offset" approach.
Despite taking many steps to reduce an organisations carbon emissions, it is not possible eliminate its GHG emissions entirely. Many companies do, however, wish to support reductions beyond those they can achieve internally by going carbon neutral or partially neutralising those emissions they are unable to reduce internally. An organisation can compensate for emissions by purchasing emissions reductions achieved elsewhere through an offset project.
It is important to remember that offset projects fund reductions in GHG emissions that would not have happened without the opportunity to receive the carbon finance. The company buying the offsets can, in effect, compensate for a portion of its footprint using these "offsetting" reductions.
What kinds of projects provide the credible offsets that ICROA's members are selling?
ICROA supports offsets certified under the Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation, CarbonFix Standard, Climate Action Reserve, Gold Standard and Voluntary Carbon Standard. These are widely recognised by experts and policy makers as the most rigorous standards for carbon offsets. Their criteria ensure that offsets developed under these standards are real, additional, permanent, and verified.
ICROA's members sell offsets from a variety of GHG-reducing activities, including:
- The development of renewable energy projects
- The capture and destruction of landfill and agricultural methane
- Forestry projects
- Energy-efficiency projects
- Fuel switching: replacing fossil fuels or non-sustainable biomass with renewable energy
Where are the offset projects located?
ICROA members sell offsets from projects located around the globe. In many cases, the carbon offset project provides additional social benefits, like the reduction of indoor-air pollution or the preservation or expansion of important habitat.
What is the role of the voluntary carbon market, given the existence of formal GHG regulation in the EU and increasingly in the US and Australia?
There are a number of compelling reasons to encourage voluntary carbon reduction and offset markets.
- The carbon market uses market mechanisms to direct investment wherever in the world it can significantly reduce GHG most cost effectively emissions. The international carbon market, which transcends national boundaries, is a crucial tool to achieve global GHG reductions. This market has been an essential element in the international response to climate change. The voluntary market complements the compliance market for GHG, increasing the overall effectiveness of the market approach.
- Individuals and many businesses are not regulated (and will not be) under GHG protocols. The voluntary market provides a powerful vehicle for those who want to do something on their own.
- The voluntary market is fostering innovation in the development of standards and products. This market is more adaptable than the regulated, with products and services being designed to meet the needs of individuals or particular groups of customers.
- The voluntary market provides essential choice on project type which is just not possible in the compliance carbon market, in 2009 over 70% of compliance market projects were located in one country.
- Voluntary market offset projects encourage the promotion of sustainable development, the alleviation of poverty and, in some cases, the restoration of critical ecosystems and habitat. Offset projects located in the global South, where the weight of future emissions are predicted to originate, also provide the communities who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change with direct access to sustainability benefits and technology for the mitigation of carbon emissions.
- Even if mandated reductions are reached, they will result in only a modest reduction in emissions in regulated countries, while countries outside of the regulated systems are increasing their emissions substantially. This situation leaves a huge discrepancy between the reductions likely to be delivered by regulation and scientific estimates of the reductions required to protect our climate. The voluntary carbon market is important vital in helping to make up for this shortfall and achieving reductions below those driven by regulation.
- For those who believe it is necessary to bring about greater reductions in GHG than are being achieved through regulation, the voluntary carbon market provides an effective way to accomplish that objective.