Offsets can be used to support voluntary sustainability goals or meet compliance obligations by counter balancing (or offsetting) the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated from direct or indirect activities with voluntary emission reductions occurring somewhere else. Examples of offsetting include a company meeting its compliance obligation under a cap-and-trade program, an organization choosing to balance the emissions from its energy usage, and a professional sports team balancing the emissions from its travels.
So, what is an offset? An offset represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions reduced or sequestered from the atmosphere because of a specific activity. An activity that achieves emissions reduction or sequestration is called an offset project, and it should adhere to a recognized standard–or protocol–and be reviewed by an independent third party verification body. The offset project must be an activity that is not required by law and would not have occurred under business-as-usual circumstances. This is known as additionally. Besides being additional, high quality offsets must also be real, verifiable, enforceable and permanent.
Offset projects often also bring co-benefits to the local communities where they are located. These benefits include cleaner air, cleaner water, healthier soil, greater financial investment, and additional job training skills to the local workforce.
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