How To Know If You’re on the Right Track with Your Carbon Credit Strategy
Steve Siger
February 8, 2024

Carbon offsetting is harder than it should be. It’s easy to get it wrong. The market is opaque, confusing, and riddled with poor-quality offerings. Companies ranging from Blackrock to Etsy have been publicly blasted for mistakes. You want your offsets to have an impact. Your customers and brand want your efforts to have an impact.

So how do you know whether you’re on the right track or in need of a course-correction? Here are some ideas about how you can evaluate your efforts.

Zoom out and review your goals and strategy.

What are your overall sustainability goals? What is your carbon credit strategy? Does your strategy work in support of your goals? Do you have a strategy? We think a good carbon credit strategy optimizes for maximizing impact while minimizing risk.

Think about your carbon portfolio holistically.

There is increasing scientific consensus that most buyers should be purchasing a portfolio of carbon credits that are diversified across project type and geography. This is the approach supported by the World Economic Forum, and it is the approach endorsed by the leading paper in the field–The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting.

Did you buy multiple projects? Are they geographically diverse? Do they represent multiple category types? How did you think about allocating both dollars and tonnes across different projects?

Do your diligence at the project level.

Spoiler alert: this can be time-consuming and difficult. The project documentation you’re going to want to review can be hundreds of pages long and can be confusing. Even the best diligence guide we know of to help guide you, the Carbon Offset Guide, is itself 60 pages long.

But project-level diligence is critical. Even within individual categories and project types, there is substantial variation in climate impact between individual projects. To really understand how you’re doing, you need to closely examine projects to ensure solid evidence of additionality, limited risk of overcrediting, reasonable durability of carbon for the project type, and strong evidence that the project avoids double-counting.

Leverage independent third-party information.

You should think hard about who else believes a project is high-performing. One way to do this is by subscribing to third-party ratings agencies like BeZero, Calyx Global, Renoster, or Sylvera. But that approach can be expensive. Another option is to examine what other companies are supporting the same projects as you. If you admire a company’s sustainability program, it’s a good sign to see that they support a project.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? We can help! Fill out our form, and we’ll build you a Carbon Impact Report for your company. We’ll provide an expert analysis of your current portfolio and benchmark it against your peers. Know how your strategy is performing so you can be sure you’re driving real impact.