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Comparison Table 3: Offset Project Eligibility

(last updated Jan 2011)

Read about Project Eligibility

Name of Program

Eligible Project Locations

Eligible Project Types

Project Start Date

Kyoto offset mechanisms

Clean Development Mechanism

Developing (non-Annex 1) countries where Designated National Authorities (DNAs) are established

All eligible except nuclear energy, new HCFC-22 facilities or avoided deforestation (REDD)

January 1, 2000

Joint Implementation

Annex 1 countries that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol with capped emissions

Same as CDM plus forest management, cropland management, and grazing management, ineligible under CDM are eligible under JI.

January 1, 2000

Mandatory cap-and-trade systems

Alberta-Based GHG Reduction Program

Alberta only

Acid gas injection, anaerobic wastewater treatment, beef feeding, beef-feed days, beef lifecycle, biofuel, biogas, biomass, compost, energy efficiency, enhanced oil recovery, streamlined enhanced oil recovery, landfill bioreactor, landfill gas, modal freight, non-incineration of thermal waste, pork, road rehabilitation, run-of-the-river electricity systems, solar electricity systems, tillage, waste heat recovery, streamlined waste heat recovery and wind-powered electricity systems.

January 1, 2002

Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

Under development. Design recommendations include both domestic and international offset projects.

Under development. Design recommendations have prioritized the following project types: land use, forestry, wood products, avoided deforestation and carbon geosequestration

Under development

Canada’s Offset System for Greenhouse Gases


Project types to be reviewed for consideration include: afforestation, landfill gas capture and combustion, reduced or no tillage, wind, forest management, wastewater management, and anaerobic biodigesters.

January 1, 2006

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme

CDM and JI restriction apply.

CDM restrictions plus no LULUCF. Additional rules for large hydro. Starting in 2013, HFC and adipic acid credits will be excluded.

CDM and JI requirements apply

Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord

Not yet specified.

Not yet specified.

Not yet specified.

New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme

Within New South Wales only, except for electricity generation projects which can be within the Australian National Electricity Market. 

  • Additional electricity from low emission sources (including use of RECs as compliance units)
  • Supply side energy efficiency at existing power stations
  • Demand side energy efficiency
  • Industrial on-site emission reductions
  • Forest carbon sequestration (afforestation or reforestation)

Electricity generation: January 1 2003; Demand side management: January 1, 2002 in NSW and January 1, 2004 in the ACT; Carbon sequestration: January 1, 2003

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Within RGGI participating states or other approved jurisdictions; if emission allowances exceed the Stage 2 trigger price (US$10), the eligible project locations is expanded to include offsets from any governmental mandatory program outside the US with a tonnage limit on GHG emissions. 

  • Landfill methane capture and destruction;
  • Reduction in emission of sulfur hexafluoride(SF6) ; 
  • Sequestration of carbon due to afforestation;
  • Avoided/reduced natural gas or oil combustion due to end use energy efficiency in the building sector;
  • Agricultural manure management operations;
  • Continued development of additional eligible project types expected

December 20, 2005

Western Climate Initiative

WCI may approve certified offsets from projects in the US, Canada, and Mexico; and, CDM offsets, subject to added criteria or standards

Under development. Priorities for protocol investigation and development include:

  • Agriculture (soil sequestration and manure management) ;
  • Forestry (afforestation/reforestation, forest management, forest preservation/conservation, forest products); and
  • Waste management (landfill gas and wastewater management).

Under development

Other mandatory GHG systems

State power plant rules (OR, WA, MA)

Oregon: Any location

OR: No limitations or specifications 

OR: Within 2 years of new project

Washington: Not specified

WA: No limitations or specifications with approval

WA: July 1, 2004

Massachusetts: Anywhere in the US or US coastal waters. Approved EUAs and CERs have no restrictions.

MA: Any except nuclear power generation, underwater and underground sequestration. 

MA: January 1, 2006

British Columbia Emission Offset Regulation

British Columbia

No current restrictions

November 29, 2007

Voluntary standards (read about standards versus programs)

WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol for Project Accounting 

Not defined

Project guidance can be applied to any project type. Specific guidelines have been developed for grid-connected electricity and LULUCF projects. 

Not defined

ISO 14064

Note defined

Not defined

Not defined

Voluntary programs (read about standards versus programs)

American Carbon Registry

No restrictions on project location.

No restrictions. All projects that meet the ACR Technical Standard are eligible for registration.

Non-LULUCF projects: January1, 2000.
LULUCF projects: November 1, 1997 Earlier start date evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Carbon Fix      

Chicago Climate Exchange

Any country except European Union Emission Trading Scheme member countries or Annex 1 countries that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol

Energy efficiency and fuel switching, coal mine methane, agricultural methane, agricultural soil carbon, rangeland soil carbon, forestry carbon, landfill methane, ozone depleting substance (ODS) destruction and renewable energy. 

January 1, 1999; Forestry projects: January 1, 1990; ODS projects: January 1, 2007

Climate Action Reserve


Current eligible projects: conservation-based forest management; reforestation; avoided conversion; tree planting projects by municipalities, utilities, and universities; livestock and landfill methane capture.

Carbon sequestration: January 1, 1990; Methane capture: January 1, 2001

Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards

All locations.

Bio-sequestration projects, including:

  • primary or secondary forest conservation;
  • reforestation or re-vegetation;
  • agro-forestry plantations;
  • densification and enrichment planting;
  • introduction of new cultivation practices;
  • introduction of new timber harvesting and/or processing practices (e.g., reduced impact logging);
  • reduced tillage on cropland;
  • improved livestock management, etc.
  • actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD)

No restrictions on project start date.

Climate Leaders 

Protocols applicable to US projects. Project developers that are able to develop a performance standard and country-specific data for an international project type can propose an international project. 

Current eligible projects:

  • landfill methane collection and combustion;
  • manure management (dairy or swine);
  • captured methane end use;
  • transit bus efficiency;
  • industrial and commercial boilers;
  • afforestation/reforestation projects,

Additional project types eligible with protocol approval by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

February 20, 2002

Gold Standard

All locations, except in countries with emission caps unless Gold Standard (GS) Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) are backed by permanently retiring assigned amount units (AAUs)

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Additional rules and requirements for hydropower larger than 20 MW

January 1, 2006

Green-e Climate Program

Specified by applicable offset standard

CDM standard requirements except LULUCF and hydropower >10 MW excluded; All VCS 2007 except hydropower >10 MW and additional native species requirement for carbon sequestration projects

January 1, 2000

Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy


Renewable energy projects: wind, solar, hydropower (up to 5MW; additional specifications), geothermal, methane capture, ocean thermal, wave and tidal; New project types evaluated on case-by-case basis energy

January 1, 2005

Panda Standard China land-use projects January 1, 2005

Plan Vivo

Developing countries

Bio-sequestration projects:

  • forest restoration;
  • agroforestry/small plantations;
  • forest protection and management;
  • soil conservation and agricultural improvement.

No restrictions on project start date.

Social Carbon Methodology

Developing countries

Eligible project types not defined.

No restrictions on project start date.


All locations, except in countries with emission caps unless VERs are backed by permanently retiring AAUs.

VER+ accepts all project types except HFC projects, nuclear energy projects, large hydropower projects over 80MW. Hydro projects exceeding 20MW have to conform with World Commission on Dams rules. LULUCF projects, including REDD, are accepted if implemented with a buffer approach to address the risk of non-permanence.

January 1, 2005. Retroactive crediting limited to 2 years back from the registration date and will be phased out by the end of 2009.

Verified Carbon Standard

All locations, except in countries with emission caps unless voluntary carbon units (VCUs) are backed by permanently retiring AAUs.

All project types eligible with VCS approved methodology, except projects from new industrial gas facilities

January 1, 2002; Future restrictions: Start date must be within 2 years of validation date.