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Business Case
Discerning Offsetting:
The Right Projects Can Take You from Carbon-Neutral to Climate+

By making informed decisions on carbon credit selection, sustainability-minded companies can go beyond simply being carbon neutral — to inspire customers and employees alike with life-changing impacts.

What difference can carbon offsetting make for the planet, its people and your organization’s sustainability objectives? The answer is — a lot. But choice matters: Depending on which carbon credits you select, you may simply be compensating for your carbon footprint or — on the other end of the spectrum — helping drive development in vulnerable communities around the world.

For companies that are new to carbon offsetting, the range of carbon credits available for purchase can seem challenging to navigate. To ensure that the credits you purchase are from highest-quality projects, here are some practical questions to consider:

  • Is the project's technology compatible with a decarbonized world — for example, not simply switching from one fossil fuel to another?

  • Did the project follow safeguards to mitigate any unintended negative consequences?

  • Have the developers engaged local stakeholders, and reflected their concerns and objectives in the project design?

  • Are the project's claims around sustainable development or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) measured, monitored and independently verified?

  • What is the economic value created by the specific project?

When projects follow these sorts of best practices, their impact can go beyond cutting carbon to delivering meaningful benefits for communities and ecosystems. This is we at what Gold Standard call Climate+ projects: those that make a positive impact for the climate, plus the broader SDGs.

But just how much impact? To respond to an increasing need to quantify the impact of investments made in sustainability efforts, Gold Standard commissioned an independent research study several years back to calculate the economic value of Gold Standard carbon credits issued from a variety of project types. A more recent study by Vivid Economics revisits these calculations with the latest data available and better geographic specificity, in a new report — Valuating the benefits of improved cooking solutions: Impact data in high resolution — released this month. The study concludes that for every carbon credit from a clean cookstove project, for example, $267 in shared value is created. For biogas, the average value created is $464 per credit. The report breaks down the details of contributions for health, ecosystem conservation, poverty reduction and of course, climate protection.

These figures help organizations better understand the full impact of their carbon credit purchases. More than this, by delving into the benefit profiles of different project types, companies can choose projects that are not only high-impact, but align with their own sustainability objectives — from gender equality and clean water access to biodiversity conservation — as well as help meet net-positive goals.

By making an informed decision on carbon credit selection to support more ambitious projects, sustainability-minded companies can go beyond simply being carbon neutral. They can inspire customers and employees alike with life-changing impact — backed with quantified, verified data.