Carbon Offsets 

Why carbon offsets?

What are carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets fund projects that are supposed to provide a verifiable reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Each offset represents a specific amount of reduced emissions, theoretically allowing individuals or businesses to go “carbon neutral” by funding these initiatives to undo their own emissions. Although generally they have been certified by independent agencies, they frequently do not provide the emissions reductions they promise. Giving Green dives deep into the details to try to find the most reliable offsets available.

How do we assess them?

We are searching for offsets where there is a direct, causal, and verifiable link between someone purchasing an offset and a decreased amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

First, we look at the offset market sector by sector, to determine which sectors are most likely to provide reliable offsets. For sectors that we determine to be likely to produce high-quality offsets, we then search through available and recommend those that meet our criteria. We rate offsets using five categories: causality, project-level additionality, marginal additionality, permanence, and co-benefits.

Note that our offset recommendations are not comprehensive - we have not assessed all offsets in market (in fact, many offsets do not have any publicly-available information). We have developed this systematic approach to assessing offsets, and recommend the best ones we find. As our research continues, we expect to find more offsets to recommend.

Please see this page for more information on our approach to measuring carbon offsets.

Our take on carbon offsets

Even in the best case scenario, it is impossible to guarantee that an individual offset purchase actually leads to the advertised emissions reduction. By thoroughly vetting the offset projects and by understanding how they claim to use offset purchases, we are able to be fairly sure that your purchases are going towards measurable emissions reductions, but we cannot be completely certain. As such, Giving Green recommends that individuals and organizations view offsets simply as a philanthropic contribution to a pro-climate project with an evidence-based approach to reducing emissions, rather than a way to eliminate their contribution to climate change. For more information, see our Overview of the Voluntary Offset Markets research document.

Offset Sector Research

Our Recommendations 

Most cost effective

Tradewater’s mission is to find and destroy refrigerants and other gases with warming potential up to 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide. They work worldwide to find these gases, purchase them, and then destroy them. Priced at $15 per ton of CO2 removed, Tradewater offers one of the most attractive combinations of price and certainty. 

Click here or on the image to read our research.

Long-term bet

An important avenue for removing CO2 is Direct Air Carbon Capture and Sequestration (DACS). We have investigated several DACS projects and recommend purchasing carbon offsets from Climeworks, a Switzerland-based company that has built a modular technology for capturing CO2 and then permanently turning it into solid material deep underground. Although these offsets are expensive at over $1000 per ton of CO2, purchasing them gives unparalleled certainty of permanent CO2 removal, and supports the development of important frontier technology. 

Click here or on the image to read our research.

Decrease emissions and save families money

BURN makes and distributes fuel-efficient stoves in Kenya. Their impact on fuel usage (and therefore GHG emissions) was validated by a recent randomized controlled trial (or RCT), which sets it apart from the mixed results of other cookstove providers. Additionally, BURN stove users see large reductions in expenditure on fuel, leading to more money for the family. 

Click here or on the image to read our research.