Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about Projects and Standards
What's the difference between the carbon offset standards you use?
Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) are all generally recognized as having matured into effective and credible standards. They were all created in response to public relations issues with unregulated and audited approaches to carbon offsetting over a decade ago and are curated by non-profit organizations.
Gold Standard was initiated by the World Wildlife Fund. CAR started life as the California Climate Action Registry, created by the State of California. VCS originated from the Climate Group, International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), The World Economic Forum and The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Between them they account for 88% of the voluntary carbon offset market. VCS has the largest market share 49%, CAR has 20% and Gold standard has 19%.
Each standard has a center of gravity in terms of the kind of projects that it supports due to the protocols/methods for measurement that are created under the standard. Gold Standard was created with the idea that as well as facilitating carbon reduction the offset projects should do social good. They have the lead in terms of driving efficiencies in household appliances. CAR has led in methane capture projects. VCS has had a lead with forestry projects. Renewable energy projects are a staple of Gold Standard and VCS.
All three have been revised and updated several times so that having recent vintages of offsets that were audited in the last 2-3 years is a good idea in terms of assuring high quality i.e. true additionality and precise measurement.