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Comparison Table 1: General Features of Offset Programs

(last updated Jan 2011)

Read about General Features of Offset Programs

Name of Program

Regional scope

Type of Program 

Current Status

Start of Program 

Kyoto offset mechanisms

Clean Development Mechanism

International (covers all countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol)

Project-based offset mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.

Active until end of 2012, may be continued after 2012.

General rules established in 2001, first offset issued in 2005. 

Joint Implementation

Annex-1 parties to the Kyoto Protocol 

Project-based offset mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.

Active until end of 2012, may be continued after 2012.

General rules established in 2001.

Mandatory cap-and-trade systems

Australian Carbon Pollution Abatement Scheme

Australia

National cap and trade system proposed with offsets as potential compliance mechanism.

Delayed

N/A

Canada’s Offset System for Greenhouse Gases

Canada

National emission reduction targets with offsets as proposed compliance mechanism.

In planning

N/A

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme

27 EU Member states, plus Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein

Mandatory cap-and-trade program with offsets as a limited compliance mechanism.

Active

Started in 2005

Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord

6 Midwest US states: (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin) and 1 Canadian province (Manitoba)

Regional cap-and-trade system with offsets as potential compliance mechanism. 

In planning

Start expected in 2012

New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme

NSW, Australia

State per capita-based cap and trade system with offsets as unlimited compliance mechanism.

Active

Started in January 2003

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Northeast US states:  CT, DE, ME, NH, NJ, NY, VT, MA, RI, and MD 

Regional cap-and-trade with offsets as limited compliance mechanism. 

Active, no offset projects implemented yet.

Started in 2009

Western Climate Initiative

Western states (AZ, CA, MT, NM, OR, UT, and WA) and Canadian provinces (BC, MB), Ontario and Quebec.

Regional cap-and-trade system with offsets as potential compliance mechanism. 

In planning. Anticipated start Jan 2012.

Start expected in 2012

Other mandatory GHG systems

Alberta Offset System

Canadian province of Alberta 

Provincial intensity-based emission regulations allow for unlimited offsets as a compliance option

Active

Started in July 2007

State power plant rules (OR, WA, MA)

Oregon

Legislated emission standard

Active

OR: Started in 1997

Washington

Legislated emission standard

Active

WA: Started in 2003

Massachusetts 

State cap with offsets as limited compliance mechanism 

Ended Dec 2008.

MA: Started in 2006

British Columbia Emission Offset Regulation

British Columbia

Provincial compliance program for the public sector with offsets as unlimited compliance mechanism.

Active

Started in 2008

Voluntary standards (read about standards versus programs)

WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol for Project Accounting 

Not defined

GHG Project Accounting Standard

In use.

Published in 2005

ISO 14064-2

Not defined

GHG Project Accounting Standard

In use.

Launched in 2006

Voluntary programs

American Carbon Registry

International

Voluntary GHG offset project program

Active

Rebranded in 2008 (its predecessor, the GHG Registry was launched in 1997)

Carbon Fix International Voluntary GHG offset project program for forestry projects. Ex-ante and ex-post offset verification. Active Launched in 2008

Chicago Climate Exchange

Originally only in the US but has been expanded. International membership possible.

Voluntary compliance cap and trade with offsets as unlimited compliance mechanism.

Discontinued in 2010.

Launched in 2002

Climate Action Reserve

US (Mexico, Canada)

Voluntary GHG offset project program.

Active

Active since 2008 (its predecessor, the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) was established in 2002)

Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards

International

GHG offset project design standard for land-use projects with focus on co-benefits. (No emissions reduction verification: add-on standard)

Active

Launched in 2005

Climate Leaders 

Primarily US

Voluntary compliance program with offsets as unlimited compliance mechanism.

Discontinued in 2010.

Launched in 2002

Gold Standard

International

Voluntary GHG offset project program with a focus on enhancing co-benefits.

Active

Launched in 2003

Green-e Climate Program

US focus/International 

Voluntary certification program for offset retailers

Active

Launched in 2007

Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy 

US

Voluntary GHG offset project design standard for renewable energy projects

Active

Launched in 2007

Panda Standard China Voluntary GHG offset project program No projects yet. Launched in 2010.

Plan Vivo

Developing countries

Voluntary GHG offset project standard with focus on co-benefits. Ex-ante offset verification.

Active

First project started in 1994

Social Carbon Methodology

Developing countries (currently Brazil only)

GHG offset project design standard with focus on co-benefits. (No emissions reduction verification: add-on standard)

Active

First project started in 1998

VER+

International

Voluntary GHG offset project program.

Active

Launched in 2007

Verified Carbon Standard

International

Voluntary GHG offset project program.

Active

Launched in 2007. Version 1 launched in 2006.