Currently active program certifying offset retailers’ offset products (as of 1/2011).
Market Size and Scope
Offset Project Eligibility
Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies
Product Certification Process
Type of Standard and Context
Green-e Climate is a certification program launched in 2008 for carbon offsets sold to consumers in the voluntary offset market. Green-e Climate was developed and is administered by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), a non-profit organization based in California. CRS was founded in 1997 to create policy and market solutions to advance sustainable energy and mitigate climate change. In addition to Green-e Climate, CRS administers two other certification programs:
Green-e Energy is the leading US independent certification and verification program for renewable electricity and RECs. This program is not discussed further in this report .
Green-e Marketplace is a program that allows companies to display the Green-e logo when they have purchased a qualifying amount of renewable energy and passed verification standards. This program is not discussed further in this report.
In addition, as an Endorsed Program under the Green-e Climate program, CRS developed the:
Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy, is an offset project protocol that establishes eligibility requirements for renewable power facilities in the United States to sell GHG offsets. Projects approved under the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy are eligible to supply Green-e Climate certified offsets (for details, see Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy).
Green-e Climate has a different focus and is complementary to the other voluntary GHG offset standards described on this site. Green-e Climate is a program that certifies and verifies retailers’ offset products. Generally, retailers mix together offsets that originate from a variety of projects to create an end product that is sold to consumers. Green-e Climate ensures that retailers have purchased and retired the correct volumes and types of offsets that they have sold (protects against double selling), that there is full disclosure of project and other product information, and that no false or misleading claims are made to customers. Green-e Climate endorses other existing GHG offset standards (see Recognition of Other Standards below). Sellers who seek Green-e Climate certification for their sales of offsets must source from projects that are certified by one of the Endorsed Programs.
Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies
Green-e Climate was developed and is administered by the Center for Resource Solutions.
- The Green-e Governance Board is an independent body with primary responsibility for oversight and policy setting for all Green-e Programs. The Green-e Governance Board is comprised of environmental organizations, consumer groups, public policy advocates, regulatory agencies and offset market experts. To avoid conflicts of interest, market actors do not have a vote but they are represented through a non-voting seat.
- Advisory Committees include:
- Power Marketers Advisory Committee (Green-e Energy)
- Utility Green Pricing Advisory Committee (Green-e Energy)
- Climate Marketers Advisory Committee
Green-e Climate has a US focus, but has endorsed several international standards (see below) and is open to certifying products sold anywhere.
Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems
Through the Green-e Climate Program, the Green-e Governance Board endorses select offset standards to serve as eligible sources of supply for the Green-e Climate retail certification program. As of January 2011, Green-e Climate has endorsed five GHG offset standards.
Within each of these Endorsed Programs, certain project types and/or protocols are determined eligible by the Board. For an updated list and any specific eligibility restrictions see Green-e Climate Endorsed Programs.
Tradable Unit and Pricing Information
The Green-e Climate program requires that certified offsets be sold in units of CO2e. If offsets are sold in quantities other than metric tons (eg. pounds or short tons of CO2e), the Program requires that a conversion equivalent to metric tons be provided. Pricing will vary according to the type and location of project, the project standard used and the quantities purchased.
Carbon offset retailers.
Current Participating Sellers
As of January 2011, nine retailers are selling Green-e Climate Certified Products. For the most up to date list of retailers see Green-e Climate Certified Carbon Offsets.
Project type eligibility is defined by the endorsed standards and programs, with the restrictions determined by the Green-e Governance Board. Broadly, nuclear power, large hydropower, bio-sequestration projects that do not address prevention or reversibility or non-permanence, and bio-sequestration projects using non-native species are ineligible. For specific eligibility restrictions see Green-e Climate Endorsed Programs..
Project location restrictions, as defined by the endorsed standards and programs, apply; there are no additional Green-e Climate limitations.
As defined by the endorsed standards, large hydro power projects are ineligible.
GHG emission reductions are only eligible if they are from projects that became operational on or after January 1, 2000 and if they meet the timing requirements of the Endorsed Programs. Exceptions might be approved if project additionality can be clearly established for projects with earlier start dates.
The following crediting periods are acceptable for endorsed programs:
- up to 15 years; or,
- 10 years with the option of one renewal; or,
- seven years with the option of two renewals.
- Biological carbon sequestration or conservation projects may permit crediting periods of up to 50 years or the lifetime of the project management plan, whichever is shorter.
Exceptions can be approved if clear justification is provided for crediting period requirements that vary from these guidelines.
Co-benefit Objectives and Requirements
Green-e Climate does not generally require additional co-benefits beyond those which are required by the endorsed standards. One exception is the requirement for bio-sequestration projects to use native species.
The endorsed standards must require that all their projects pass a legal, regulatory or institutional test, as well as a timing test (see Green-e CPRE). In addition, all projects must pass one of the following additionality tests:
- Common Practice Test and Financial Test (both required); or
- Common Practice Test and Barriers Test (both required); or
- Technology Test and Performance Test (both required).
To use the Green-e Climate logo, a seller of Green-e Climate certified offsets must contractually agree to abide by the program’s standards and the Green-e Climate Code of Conduct, including an annual verification audit of sales performed by an independent certified public accountant or certified internal auditor, and a twice-annual review of all marketing and web-based materials associated with a certified offset product against customer disclosure requirements. If marketing compliance review reveals areas of non-compliance, the seller will either have to revise its marketing materials to meet the requirements within 30 days of receiving notice from CRS, or immediately desist using the Green-e Climate logo or making reference to Green-e Climate in any of its marketing materials for this product.
There are two product types eligible for certification under Green-e Climate. A Fixed Mix Product has the same combination and proportion of GHG emission reductions from project type(s), location(s) and endorsed programs/standards (e.g. 45% Gold Standard energy efficiency from India, 55% VCS renewable energy from the US) for all customers. Customized Mix Products allow the customer to choose a unique proportion of GHG emission reductions from a specified list of project type(s), location(s) and endorsed program(s).
Endorsed Programs and Standards
The Green-e Governance Board evaluates and approves GHG Offset Programs and Standards that seek to be endorsed under the Green-e Climate Program based on stakeholder feedback. GHG offset programs and standards cannot be endorsed without stakeholders having had the opportunity to comment.
Program requirements and procedures are evaluated against the criteria in the Green-e Climate Standard, which broadly consist of:
- procedural and technical standards for the validation, monitoring and verification of GHG emission reduction projects;
- contractual standards for information disclosure and avoidance of double issuance and double counting of GHG emission reductions; and
- accounting standards that specify consistent methods for estimating baseline emissions, accounting for emission leakage and establishing project additionality.
Monitoring, Verification and Certification
The Verification Audit Protocol requires sellers offering a Green-e Climate certified product to demonstrate through the use of company contracts, invoices, reports from endorsed standards, reports from registries and billing statements that:
- the seller retired or transferred to customers GHG emission reductions in quantity and type sufficient to meet customer sales for each specific product;
- the GHG emission reductions came from eligible GHG emission reduction projects, certified by an endorsed program;
- the information provided to customers on the product content label is accurate; and
- by attestation, the seller has no knowledge of double counting, double selling or double claiming of the GHG emission reductions used to supply the certified product.
Endorsed Programs and Standards
All projects, except for small-scale projects, require an on-site verification of GHG emission reductions. On-site verification must subsequently occur every five to seven years, at a minimum.
Endorsed programs must either certify the verified GHG emission reductions based on a review and the approval of these verification reports, or require certification of the verified GHG emission reductions from an independent third-party auditor. The auditors have to be accredited either by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) standard 14065; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); a national, state or provincial governmental accreditation program; or, with the approval of the Green-e Governance Board, broadly accepted professional accreditation programs.
Registries and Fees
All endorsed programs and standards must have registries in place to prevent double counting, double issuance and double selling, and to ensure that GHG emission reductions are not registered more than once.
The annual base fee for Green-e Climate certification is USD 6,000 per year. Carbon retailers also pay a fee based on aggregate metric ton volumes of Green-e Climate sales. Such fees range from USD 9,000 per year for 100,000 metric tons to USD 24,000 and up for upwards of 1M metric tons.
Protocol for Renewable Energy
If the carbon retailer uses the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy as an endorsed program, there is a single annual USD 3,000 certification fee in addition to the base and volumetric fees.
Endorsed Program Fee
The fee for use of each additional endorsed program certification beyond the first (as long as that endorsed program is not the Protocol for Renewable Energy) is USD 2,000 per year.