Gold Standard, an organization established by WWF and other NGOs to catalyze action on climate change, is making it easier for anyone to support sustainable development projects around the world while offsetting their carbon footprint with the opening of an online ‘shop’ for carbon credits. For the first time, members of the public, small businesses and organizations can offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits online through Gold Standard.
The carbon credits offered come from a range of projects in Cambodia, China, Sudan, Ethiopia, Laos, Panama and Rwanda, with plans to add additional projects within the coming months.
“Hundreds of projects around the world are helping to address the critical threat of climate change while supporting sustainable development by creating jobs, providing access to safe drinking water, improving health or protecting wildlife — to name just a few benefits. Starting today, members of the public who want to make a positive difference in the fight against climate change can offset their carbon footprint and help improve lives within seconds by supporting these projects online,” said Marion Verles, CEO of Gold Standard.
According to World Bank data, the average person in the European Union is responsible for 6.4 tons of CO2 emissions per year. In the United States, that figure jumps to 16.5 tons. Gold Standard recommends that people take measures to first reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible and then offset remaining emissions by supporting certified climate protection projects.
With the purchase of carbon credits through Gold Standard’s online shop, small businesses and individuals can now offset their flights, annual commute or other greenhouse gas generating activities while protecting endangered species, improving access to clean water and reducing exposure of children and mothers to indoor air pollution.
One of the projects featured in the shop is a women’s community group in Darfur, which helps households develop cleaner, more efficient stoves. “As well as reducing CO2 emissions and saving trees, these stoves save families money and significantly reduce their exposure to dangerous indoor air pollution. This project is in a part of the world where you have an intense humanitarian crisis, with conflict that is ongoing. With the area being so difficult to access, this project is entirely funded by the sale of carbon credits. Without carbon finance, the project simply wouldn’t exist,” said Olivier Levallois, Climate Finance Lead at Carbon Clear.
With more than 80 NGO supporters, Gold Standard sets the best practice benchmark for climate and development projects. As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, every project it certifies must contribute to at least three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Engagement with local people is required for every project to ensure that all concerns, risks and opportunities are taken into account.
In addition to launching the carbon credit shop, Gold Standard has also unveiled a Renewable Energy Label. A large portion of renewable electricity is generated by power plants that have been running for several decades. Gold Standard’s label aims to assure businesses, governments and buyers of renewable electricity attribute certificates that their purchase supports new renewable energy generation capacity and achievement of the SDGs.
“Some renewable power stations in use today are a century old. While all green energy is good, we want our new certification scheme to drive the global transition away from fossil fuels by funding new sources of renewable energy. Added to this, our label assures buyers that the projects they support are delivering long-term sustainable development benefits, for example, by creating new jobs, providing access to safe water or protecting local biodiversity,” Verles said.
The Renewable Energy Label was developed with support from South Pole Group and the Overlook International Foundation. It is part of Gold Standard for the Global Goals, a new standard to quantify, certify and maximize the impact of climate and development projects toward climate security and the SDGs.
“Renewable energy markets can have even more impact than they do today. An instrument like the Gold Standard Renewable Energy Label, that is moving beyond consumer choice to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and deliver measurable progress toward the SDGs, is a great leap forward,” said Pedro Faria, Technical Director of CDP and Chair of the RE100 Technical Advisory Group.