How does CO2 offsetting work
and when does it make sense?

Information on carbon offset

Why does it make sense to offset CO2 emissions?

Not to produce greenhouse gases in the first place – that would be the ideal thing for the climate. Because in some areas this is not immediately possible, the offset of CO2 emissions is a meaningful instrument for climate protection.

Problem: In many areas of life we are still dependent on products and services that cause CO2 emissions. So far – despite good initial steps – we lack the technology to make our everyday life CO2-free.

Solution: The offset of CO2 emissions offers an opportunity to achieve CO2 neutrality in certain areas today. CO2 emissions are reduced elsewhere – where this is technically feasible and ecologically sensible. For this purpose, climate protection projects are being set up all over the world, for example to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources or to increase energy efficiency. The amount of CO2 emitted worldwide is thus reduced additionally and permanently. It is important to support only those climate protection projects that would not have been realized without your offsetting money. Otherwise the additional effect is zero.

Success: The climate footprint – and that is crucial for climate change – remains balanced. What’s more, with the right climate protection projects, the underlying problem is tackled at its root. The construction of additional solar, wind and hydroelectric power plants – financed by carbon offsetting – is bringing about a structural change towards energy generation from renewable energies.

How does the mechanism to offset CO2 emissions work?

Technically, CO2 emissions are offset through the purchase and cancellation of emission certificates. The carbon emissions saved by a climate protection project are allocated to the project operator. The latter can sell the emission rights in the form of certificates. By deleting the certificates in an official register, the certificate – similar to invalidating a ticket – is withdrawn from circulation. The corresponding amount of emissions is thus permanently reduced. One emissions certificate represents one tonne of CO2.

What are the advantages of carbon offsetting?

Most climate protection projects are implemented in developing countries, where comparatively high CO2 savings can be achieved for every euro used. Inefficient coal-fired power plants without modern filter technology are being replaced, for example, by power plants that use renewable energy sources. The advantage of this concept is that emissions are saved where it is most cost-efficient.

In addition, high-quality climate protection projects also contribute to improving local living conditions, e.g. through health protection, cost savings that can be used for education and investment or through the creation of permanent jobs.

The most important advantage, however, is that CO2 emissions that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere are saved immediately. We’ve already lost enough time. Every tonne of CO2 that can be saved quickly is important.

Further information on CO2 offsetting can be found here.

What are the disadvantages of carbon offsetting?

The greatest danger of CO2 offsetting is that it can be seen as an alternative to CO2 avoidance and reduction. After all, carbon offsetting only means compensating for emissions that have already been produced and have contributed to climate change and a deterioration in local air quality. Under no circumstances should offsetting be understood as an opportunity to “buy out” instead of actually contributing to the avoidance and reduction of greenhouse gases.

In order to limit climate change, Germany and other industrialised countries will have to stop emitting virtually any greenhouse gases by the middle of the century. Carbon offsetting therefore only works as a transitional solution in combination with measures to avoid and reduce CO2 emissions.

Our partners for climate protection projects

PROJECT CLIMATE has pledged to exclusively use climate protection projects according to the Gold Standard.

The Gold Standard is the world’s leading independent quality standard for climate protection projects. It was developed under the leadership of renowned organisations such as the WWF and is now supported by more than 60 NGOs worldwide. In the not always transparent market for emission certificates, the Gold Standard stands for the highest requirements for climate projects. Gold Standard climate protection projects must have proven track records of promoting sustainable development in the respective project country. More about Gold Standard

The German Federal Environment Agency recommends in particular Gold Standard emission certificates for offsetting.

I want to offset CO2 emissions - how does it work in practice?

In consultation with PROJECT CLIMATE, you as climate partner choose which climate protection project you want to use for CO2 offsetting. PROJECT CLIMATE buys emission certificates for 100 percent of the calculated CO2 emissions and has them cancelled immediately. Transparent purchase agreements with project developers form the basis for the purchase and cancellation of emission certificates.

Only the following emission certificates are used to offset greenhouse gas emissions:

  • GOLD STANDARD CER – Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from CDM projects (Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol), additionally certified according to the Gold Standard
  • GOLD STANDARD VER – Verified Emission Reductions (VER) from climate protection projects certified according to the Gold Standard

PROJECT CLIMATE commissions the cancellation of the purchased emission certificates in the respective register database. The CERs will be cancelled in the government register provided for this purpose. VERs are cancelled in the Gold Standard Foundation’s register.

You will receive confirmation that the emission certificates have been cancelled.

Certificates from climate protection projects in the areas of carbon capture and storage, nuclear energy and hydropower from plants with an installed capacity of more than 80 MW are generally not used by PROJECT CLIMATE for carbon offsetting.

Is the carbon offset verified externally?

The climate protection projects are regularly reviewed by external organisations. Only if an external audit is successful may the UN or the Gold Standard issue the emission certificates to the respective project operator. In the case of the UN mechanism CDM, the verifier is liable for the correctness of the audit results.

In the case of carbon offsetting of vehicle fleets, the independent expert organisation DEKRA Assurance Services GmbH audits and confirms (if the audit was successful) the correct execution of the CO2 calculation and the purchase and cancellation of the CO2 certificates for carbon offsetting.