General Offsetting FAQs
What is carbon offsetting?
Every day we take actions which require energy and result in carbon emissions, be that driving, flying or keeping our house warm.
Carbon offsetting is the process by which individuals and businesses take accountability for unavoidable emissions by investing in projects such as renewable energy, low emissions cook stoves or energy efficiency projects in developing countries, to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the environment.
In effect, carbon offsetting allows you to support environmental and social projects around the world and take responsibility for your carbon footprint by generating equivalent carbon savings elsewhere.
In practical terms, offsetting one tonne of CO2 (one carbon offset) will result in one tonne of CO2 less in the atmosphere compared to what could have been otherwise generated.
Offsetting is not a solution to climate change. To address this, we must all reduce emissions. However, well designed, managed and monitored offset projects can reduce the impact of our own emissions and help generate awareness of the need for others to do the same.
What types of carbon credit projects are there?
1. Renewable Energy – Including hydro, wind, and photovoltaic solar power, solar hot water and biomass power and heat production.
2. Energy Efficiency – these projects are fundamentally about using LESS energy (e.g. LED lighting or installing more efficient cooking stoves).
3. Forestry – Forestry projects can involve either afforestation (the establishment of a new forest or reforestation (rebuilding existing forests.) REDD+ (a UN standard) projects stand for Reducing Emissions from Reforestation and Forest Degradation.
4. Transport – These projects may involve switching transportation to less carbon intensive means or introducing new technologies to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.
5. Agriculture – By changing agricultural process techniques to methods which are more environmentally friendly, significant reductions in carbon emission can be achieved.
6. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) – Projects which improve access to water, water treatment, improved sanitation and hygiene which contribute to climate change mitigation/adaptation can provide offsets.
7. Methane Capture – There are two types of methane projects. The first type captures and burns (flares) methane, convering it to less potent carbon dioxide and water. Alternatively, projects can capture methane and use it to produce hot water or electricity.
8. Waste management and handling – These include projects that reduce the emissions from waste or water management such as composting, biogas etc.
What makes for a high-quality carbon credit?
• Real – The offsets are tangible and measurable
• Additionality – The emissions reduction would not have occurred in the absence of the project.
• Permanence – The project delivers the claimed emissions reductions in a sustained manner over time.
• No Leakage – The emissions reduction achieved with the project does not lead to an increase in emissions elsewhere.
• Retired permanently – Following the sale of the carbon credit, it is permanently removed from the market mechanism, ensuring that the offsets
there is no double counting or double selling.
• Verifiability – A robust audit trail demonstrating the project’s goals and its delivery against those goals.
What is the price of a carbon credit? Why does it change?
The availability of credits will change depending on supply and demand factors as well.
As a charity we don’t make a profit from providing carbon offsetting as a service to British Airways customers. We have to cover some transaction costs when we buy, sell and retire credits but we minimise as far as is practicable. Any surplus after we have covered these costs is used to support the Carbon Fund, supporting community based carbon reduction projects in the UK and Africa.
Why is your price for projects different from what I see elsewhere?
Pure Leapfrog endeavours to provide high quality carbon credits to customers. We monitor pricing elsewhere in the market and aim to keep our margins and transactional costs low. Unfortunately, where small numbers of credits are being purchased, transaction costs do tend to be a higher portion of the credit’s cost.
Can you offset with UK projects?
The reason for this lies in the Kyoto Protocol and the understanding that countries such as the UK that now have the Climate Change Act are mandated to reduce emissions through domestic efforts. As such voluntary carbon credits being generated are not seen as additional. In short, more developed countries can buy credits generated in developing or emerging markets. This could change in the future as the Paris Agreement commits many more countries to reduce emissions and we think in the future UK based offsets could be created.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals? (SDGs)
Why do the SDGs matter in carbon offsetting?
What is the difference between voluntary and mandatory carbon offset schemes?
Voluntary carbon offset markets enable organisations and individuals to offset their emissions by purchasing offsets that were created either through the Clean Development Mechanism (a UN led initiative born out of the Kyoto Protocol) or in the voluntary market. Voluntary credits help to serve micro projects that are too small to warrant the administrative burden or not covered under compliance schemes. Credits generated under these schemes are called Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs).
Pure Leapfrog helps organisations and individuals to reduce carbon footprints by supporting communities to develop carbon reducing projects through the voluntary market. All the projects Pure Leapfrog supports reduce carbon emissions – both via the Carbon Fund and through carbon offsetting.
Who are ICROA?
ICROA is working with leading academic institutions to understand the drivers of the voluntary market, and to research and demonstrate the additional non-carbon benefits of voluntary offsetting. For example, a recent study by Gold Standard finds that for every carbon credit issued from a clean cook stove project, $267 in economic value is created. For domestic biogas projects, the average value created is $465 per credit.
How do you know the projects you select are high-quality?
The above certifications are also in line with the ICROA Code of Best Practice list of quality credible standards.
How do you select offset projects?
We work with EcoAct to select projects with the highest sustainability standards and strong social, as well as environmental outcomes. The projects we select for website offsetting are those suitable to small purchase volumes by individuals and small businesses. If you wish to purchase large volumes please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Pure Leapfrog's role?
We work with organisations who align with our mission to tackle climate change and address poverty. Our partners support communities to develop carbon reducing projects and obtain the necessary independent verification. The reason for independent verification is so that we can be sure that the reductions have actually taken place. The projects we support must demonstrate that the funding will enable the projects to either happen or scale (“additionality”).
Upon receiving donations, we then purchase credits in the projects for each tonne of emissions that they reduce. The credits provide funding for the project.
We maintain a ‘registry’ account that ensures the credits we purchase are ‘retired’ from the market and cannot be purchased by anyone else, as is required by the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance’s (ICROA) Code of Best Practice.
Who purchases the offsets?
How often do you purchase credits?
Do you develop offset projects?
What monitoring and reporting do you do on projects?
How much do the carbon credits cost?
The carbon credits we are offering vary in price from around £5-£6 per tonne.
Each project has a different price depending on technology, location, carbon standard etc.