General Carbon Offset Information

Nicholas Institute Publications

Carbon Markets 15 Years after Kyoto: Lessons Learned, New Challenges (2013)
Author (s): Richard G. Newell, William A. Pizer and Daniel Raimi

Fifteen years after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol and the creation of the first major platform for carbon markest, the prospect for a unified global trading system in the foreseeable future is essentially finished. However, carbon markets are a reality and the design of carbon markets is benefiting from actual experience. The challenge now is to figure out how carbon markets can work in a much more complex world. This article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives offers a comprehensive review of the history of carbon markets to date, lessons learned and recommendations on where we can go in the near future.

Where Is the Carbon? Carbon Sequestration Potential from Private Forestland in the Southern United States (2013)
Author(s): Christopher S. Galik, Brian C. Murray, D. Evan Mercer

In this article, researchers look at the potential of southern forests to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon. Striving to produce a more realistic assessment of the potential for these forests to sequester carbon in response to future markets or policies, researchers used National Woodland Owner Survey data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program to link landowner demographic and behavioral data with forest conditions. The report also examines barriers to individual nonindustrial private forest participation in carbon offset programs and offers recommendations for overcoming those barriers.

Operationalizing REDD+: Scope of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (2012)
Author(s): Lydia P. Olander, Christopher S. Galik, Gabrielle A Kissinger

This paper discusses the operational issues associated with the expanding scope of reduced emissions from deforestation (RED) as forest degradation, conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) and other sectors and activities are added. The review looks to the ideas of countries, observers, and experts, as well as to the experience of those moving toward implementation through country REDD+ plans and voluntary offset markets. While not all countries may be ready to implement programs or policies across all REDD+ activities, expanding RED to REDD+ can bring significant benefits for strategic planning, coordination across sectors and activities, and increasing mitigation opportunities.

Alternative Approaches to Addressing the Risk of Non-Permanence in Afforestation and Reforestation Projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (2012)
Author(s): Brian C. Murray, Christopher S. Galik, Stephen Mitchell, Phil Cottle

Afforestation and reforestation (A/R) projects can generate greenhouse gas reduction credits by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through biophysical processes and storing it in terrestrial carbon stocks such as biomass, litter, and soils. One feature of these A/R activities is the possibility of carbon reversal, whereby the stored carbon is subsequently lost though natural disturbances, such as fire and wind, or anthropogenic disturbances such as harvesting. Adequately accounting for carbon reversal under land use, land-use change, and A/R has been a point of ongoing discussion at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties. This report examines alternative approaches to addressing reversals to inform ongoing UNFCCC discussions on the effectiveness and economic and practical feasibility of various approaches.

Estimating Global "Blue Carbon" Emissions from Conversion and Degradation of Vegetated Coastal Ecosystems (2012)
Author(s): Linwood Pendleton, Daniel C. Donato, Brian C. Murray, Stephen Crooks, W. Aaron Jenkins, Samantha Sifleet, Christopher Craft, James W. Fourqurean, J. Boone Kauffman, Núria Marbà, Patrick Megonigal, Emily Pidgeon, Dorothee Herr, David Gordon, Alexis Baldera

Recent attention has focused on the high rates of annual carbon sequestration in vegetated coastal ecosystems-marshes, mangroves, and seagrasses-that may be lost with habitat destruction. Relatively unappreciated, however, is that conversion of these coastal ecosystems also impacts very large pools of previously-sequestered carbon. Residing mostly in sediments, this 'blue carbon' can be released to the atmosphere when these ecosystems are converted or degraded. Here we provide the first global estimates of this impact and evaluate its economic implications. Combining the best available data on global area, land-use conversion rates, and near-surface carbon stocks in each of the three ecosystems, using an uncertainty-propagation approach, we estimate that 0.15-1.02 billion tons of carbon dioxide are being released annually, several times higher than previous estimates that account only for lost sequestration.

Offsets: An Important Piece of the Climate Policy Puzzle, Mitigation Beyond the Cap: A Series of Briefs on Expanding Climate Mitigation Opportunities (2008)
Authors: Lydia Olander and Brian Murray; Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

This brief addresses the overall conflict regarding offsets, both the advantages and the concerns. It concludes that while there are some concerns, they can be overcome and that offsets are feasible and even a crucial aspect of a robust cap-and-trade system.

The Use of Offsets to Reduce Greenhouse Gases (2009) Author: Natalie Tawil. Congressional Budget Office.

CBO brief reviewing overall information about offsets as a tool to reduce GHG and the economic cost of using offsets.

American Carbon Registry: Non-profit, voluntary GHG registry. They develop carbon offset standards and methodologies and operate carbon offset issuance, serialization and transparency through on-line transaction and retirement reporting.

The Verified Carbon Standard: GHG accounting program used globally to verify and issue carbon credits in voluntary markets.

Climate Action Reserve The CAR is a carbon-offset registry. They provide in depth details about the entire process.

California Air Resources Board The mission of the board is to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state. It includes a cap and trade system that includes carbon offsets. They have their own protocols and require third party verification. The ARB is a leader in GHG emission reductions.