Overview of the Voluntary Offset Market

In this document, we give a very brief overview of how carbon offset markets work, and why they may lead to offsets that do not reduce emissions. We also show why the stated purpose of offsets – to provide a verifiable reduction of a specific amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – is rarely attainable. But even if validating the exact amount of emissions reduction tied to an offset is an unrealistic goal, purchasers of carbon credits can still direct their investments towards projects that are likely making some positive difference in the fight against climate change.

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