2.5 Carbon Offset: Compensating for residual emissions

This article sets out the requirements for offsetting the carbon emissions of an organisation.

To reach carbon neutral status for a given reporting period, an organisation needs to offset the emissions they have not managed to reduce through their reduction initiatives. The way these emissions are offset is through the purchase and retirement of an equivalent number of eligible carbon offset units (see below).

This purchase and retirement of eligible units can be completed through Pathzero, or it can be done independently, as long as:

  1. the offset credits meet the requirements of the protocol (see below)
  2. a certificate of retirement can be provided as evidence of the purchase of retirement of the carbon offset units.

The approach allowed under this protocol

If carbon neutral status is your goal, you should purchase carbon offset credits in arrears at the completion of data validation. This is the point in time that your emission boundary has been measured.

A Strategy for purchasing and retiring

The organisation should develop and maintain a strategy for purchasing and retiring eligible offset units. This includes decisions regarding the amount of renewable energy purchased as well as the technology (or project type) used for emissions reduction or avoidance.

The strategy should clearly lay out a multi-year plan for how the emissions arising from the activities of the company will be appropriately compensated for overtime.

Eligible offset units

As discussed in Core Principles, carbon offsets must meet the integrity principles, per the International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance (ICROA) Code of Best Practice.

Pathzero has reviewed the credibility of the offsets available, currently, we only accept the following as eligible under this protocol.

  • Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) issued by the Gold Standard,
  • Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) issued by the Verified Carbon Standard,
  • Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) issued by the Clean Energy Regulator in Australia,
  • Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRT) issued by Climate Action Reserve,
  • Registry Offset Credits (ROCs) issued by the American Carbon Registry.

Proof of retirement/cancellation of offsets

To effectively attribute the carbon abatement activities to a particular organisation, an organisation must purchase and then retire (also referred to as cancel) the carbon offset unit on a recognised, public offsets registry. 

The cancellation should be clearly attributed to the carbon neutral claim and the organisation, or entity, responsible for making the claim. The cancellation and attribution of eligible offset units are critical to ensure integrity and to prevent the resale or double counting of the offset units.

Any carbon offset units purchased through Pathzero will provide third party evidence of the retirement of the carbon offset units through a certificate. The certificate will be made available in the 'offset history' dashboard in the Pathzero app.

Disclosure of purchased offsets

The carbon offset projects underlying the carbon units retired for a given period must be transparently disclosed to the public.

Your Pathzero Public Profile displays the required information about the Carbon Offset project being supported to offset the emissions arising from the business activities of the organisation.