Carbon offsets are generated from different types of projects. In Australia the most common are renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry (known as bio-sequestration) projects. The market for voluntary carbon offsets, where businesses choose to offset their emissions as part of their carbon strategy, rather than to meet a regulatory compliance imperative, is growing and evolving rapidly. There are new entrants every month, and new products developed every week. Since this study commenced, four new offset service providers have started operations, and several existing providers have altered their product offering to business.
It is a fragmented market, with little regulation and a variety of quality standards emerging internationally, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard for Voluntary Emission Reductions. In Australia, a variety of mechanisms are used to assure customers of the quality of the offsets they are purchasing, including being accredited by the Australian Greenhouse Office’s “Greenhouse Friendly” program.
This report has been prepared to provide Australian organisations seeking to offset their emissions, with comparative information regarding offsetting services available. 13 Australian offset service providers were selected for comparison against a framework which is detailed in Part II of this report.