With climate emergencies becoming an increasingly common headline of the daily news, carbon credit has become the talk of the decade. Have you been wondering what it means? Let us help out.

As per UN guidelines, carbon credits are tradable permits or certificates measuring one ton of carbon dioxide or any other greenhouse gas (GHG) avoided or removed from our atmosphere. You can think of it as a kind of carbon currency. It basically allows the permit holder to release one ton of carbon dioxide which has been removed. 

Organizations and countries with climate action targets purchase carbon credits. Moreover, private individuals like you can also buy carbon credits to lessen your carbon emissions.

The Glasgow COP26 Climate Change Summit gave birth to the framework for the global carbon offset trading market. It is based on the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms for countries or operators to get greenhouse gas credits for reduction in emissions. Mandatory carbon markets are regulated by authorities (UN Clean Development Mechanism).

Ready to read about the 5 best carbon offset programs in 2023 with us today? Let’s get started!  

Carbon Offset vs. Carbon Credit: What’s the Difference?

We often use the terms carbon credit and carbon offset interchangeably, don’t we? Although they are pretty similar, there are some differences you should know.

First, we have carbon offsetting. This is where you can choose to invest in green projects and minimize your environmental impact.

Well, for example, you are a climate-conscious entrepreneur, and you own a firm that generates 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide. In this case, you can buy 5 carbon credits from a project that reduces or stores away the carbon to reduce 5 tons of your emission. 

On the contrary, we have the term carbon credit. It is generally used when there is an industry-specific cap on emissions. Our governments buy carbon credits to meet the Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC targets in their climate action plan. In the 1990s, a similar “cap-and-trade” model was used to reduce sulfur pollution.

Are you with us so far? Let’s give you an example. Your company’s emissions are legally capped at 15 tons of carbon dioxide. But your company’s emissions are 20 tons per month. Then, you have to buy 5 carbon credits to compensate for your extra 5 tons of emissions.

You get it, right? Carbon credits deal with the reduction of carbon emissions. Whereas carbon offset deals with the removal of the carbon already present in our atmosphere.

How are carbon credits generated?

Carbon credits are generated and sold by companies working toward reducing and capturing GHGs. This is done through reforestation, forest conservation, clean energy production, and geological carbon sequestration.

Who gives carbon credits, you wonder? The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) issues carbon credits as units to buyers and sellers. You can find them for purchase or sale on the United Nations Carbon Offset platform.

As carbon offset project developers, you can use these units to finance your carbon projects. You can also set the prices per unit and receive all the profits from the sale of credits.

The Fundamentals of Carbon Offset Programs

What are Carbon Offset Programs?

Carbon offset trading refers to the buying and selling of carbon credit certificates in the voluntary carbon market. Here, international brokers, online retailers, and carbon trading programs are the middlemen. Carbon offset programs are private firms that fund projects that reduce, avoid, or store carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. 

For instance, you are the CEO of an airline company. And you want to compensate for your flights’ emissions. So, of course, you may purchase carbon credits from carbon offset programs. 

These firms are funding carbon offset projects that are recognized by global standards. So, when you’re purchasing 100 carbon credits, you are offsetting 100 tons of carbon dioxide generated by your airplanes. 

Airlines with carbon offset programs:

1. The Emirates
2. Delta Airlines
3. British Airways
4. Gulf Air
5. Turkish Airlines

Moreover, there are 2 types of carbon emission reduction- removal and avoidance. Carbon removal programs eliminate greenhouse gasses after they have been already released into our atmosphere. On the other hand, carbon avoidance is the prevention of emitting carbon dioxide at the source. 

Carbon Offset Programs Vs. Carbon Offset Projects

Carbon offset programs help you calculate your household or company’s carbon emission. Then, you can buy carbon credits on their platform to reduce your emissions. Your purchase will then go toward funding carbon offset projects. 

Carbon offset projects are also known as carbon offset schemes. They engage in various sorts of carbon capture, storage, and removal projects throughout the world to fight climate change. Carbon offset programs also arrange for third-party accreditation for these projects, which have to meet global standards. 

The Best Carbon Offset Programs of 2023

Keeping in mind what we’ve learned so far,  let us now explore the various carbon offset programs available for you in 2023.

Native – for individuals, small businesses, and corporations

Native is a certified B corporation established in 2000. They have a carbon footprint calculator that you can use to calculate your personal or company’s carbon emission. 

Firstly, you can calculate your personal as well as the company’s carbon emissions using their footprint calculator. 

You can also buy carbon credits to invest in global carbon offset projects and help indigenous communities. Your purchases can be one-time, monthly, quarterly, or annually. 

These are some of their projects that you’d be interested in:

  •           Renewable energy 
  •           Biogas and biomass fuel production
  •           Methane destruction
  •           Clean water projects
  •           Regenerative agriculture.

What’s more? At Native, you also have a choice to buy Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and power your home, or even your office. Their RECs are third-party certified by Green-e Energy. Native also helps carbon-offsetting project developers fund their project goals and sell carbon credits.

Native is certified by the following climate organizations:

  •             Gold Standard
  •             Verified Carbon Standard
  •             Climate Action Reserve
  •             American Carbon Registry

3Degrees – new sustainable approaches for businesses

Want to balance your company’s GHG emissions? 3Degrees is another Certified B Corporation that offers both carbon offsetting consultancy and carbon offset selling opportunities. It works with experts in the carbon field to mitigate the client’s investment risks.

These are some of their projects that you’d be interested in:

  •            Transportation projects
  •            Reforestation projects
  •            Livestock manure management
  •            Methane and landfill gas capture 

3Degrees also supports clean energy projects in developing and under-developed nations. The Giriraj Bundled Wind Power Project in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in India is funded via the 3Degrees program.

3Degrees is certified by the following climate organizations: 

  •            Gold Standard
  •            Verified Carbon Standard
  •            Climate Action Reserve
  •            American Carbon Registry

myclimate – the sustainable consultant for your home

Do you want to be more mindful of your carbon footprint? Myclimate is basically one of many carbon offset programs for individuals where you can easily calculate your daily emissions from your car, household, events, travel, or even shopping habits. 

Myclimate was established in 2002 and has funded projects across as many as 95 countries! Over the last decades, it has supported 197 projects, including Indian projects related to rural biogas plants, electricity generation from agro waste, and efficient cookstoves for saving forests.

These are some of their projects you’d be interested in:

  •             Renewable energies
  •             Local afforestation
  •             Waste management and compost
  •             Efficient cookstoves
  •             Biogas and biomass

Additionally, myclimate offers carbon insetting opportunities for businesses. According to their website, it is an “investment by your company in emissions reduction projects within the supply chain.” In this case, your capital remains within your company’s value chain. 

Myclimate is certified by the following climate organizations:

  •            Clean Development Mechanism
  •            Gold Standard
  •            Plan Vivo

Sustainable Travel International – your climate-friendly tour guide

Established in 2007, Sustainable Travel International (STI) basically lets you travel climate-consciously. The tourism industry is responsible for almost 8% of total carbon emissions. Wouldn’t the opportunity of offsetting your emissions allow you to have a guilt-free trip?

If you’re curious about your flight’s carbon emission, you can calculate it on their platform as well. All you need to do is enter the passenger details, pick where you are flying from and to, and choose whether you’re traveling economy or business. The calculator will show your emissions and the number of credits required to offset your emissions. Once you’ve made up your mind about buying carbon credits, you can move forward with your payment details.

These are some of their projects that you’d be interested in:

  •             Forest conservation 
  •             Blue carbon (coastal ecosystem conservation)
  •             Clean energy

Sustainable Travel International is certified by the following climate organizations:

  •             Gold Standard 
  •             Verified Carbon Standard

TerraPass – for businesses as well as events

TerraPass allows you to smoothly offset carbon emissions from your biggest wedding of the year! This program started in 2004. 

You just have to enter the travel info, details about hotel accommodation, venue, types of meals, and number of people to calculate your carbon footprint. In addition, TerraPass shows you the offset cost starting at around $8 per 0.5 tons of carbon. 

These are some of the projects you’d be interested in:

  •             Landfill and gas combustion
  •             Rainforest preservation
  •             Methane capture from coal mines
  •             Wind and farm power

In addition to that, TerraPass also conducts the “additionality test.” This is to monitor whether your carbon offset purchases really make a difference in carbon removal or not. This leads to better transparency in the carbon reduction process.

TerraPass is certified by the following climate organizations:

  •             Green-e Energy 
  •             Gold Standard
  •             Verified Carbon Standard
  •             Climate Action Reserve
  •             American Carbon Registry

The Future of Carbon Offset Trading in India

Two of the carbon offset companies in India are Myplan8 and Offset Farm. These companies work per the UNFCCC standards. Most importantly, they contribute to the development of rural India by funding projects related to low-cost electric cook stoves and agro-waste recycling.

On the Myplan8 app, you can calculate your carbon footprint, support climate action projects, and earn green credits in return. Meanwhile, you can also fund planting trees simply by using their Green Money card for your payments. 

Offset Farm works closely with project developers to implement and fund carbon reduction projects globally. They provide low-carbon irrigation facilities to Indian farmers and clean cooking energy to households in rural North India. They also provide access to clean cooking fuel in Zambia.

Carbon Credit Programs for Farmers: A Game-changer!

According to the Central Ground Water Board, 60% of irrigation in India depends on groundwater. With this in mind, the Indian government is trying to incentivize better and large-scale sustainable practices in the agricultural sector. 

You see, Indian farmers also practice stubble burning, input-intensive cropping, and inefficient fertilizer usage. As a result, their productivity is lower with higher emissions. 

They can adopt sustainable farming practices, reduce emissions, and produce carbon credits against those reductions. Consequently, they can sell these credits via carbon credit programs to governments or companies and earn extra income. 

Practices like efficient water and fertilizer usage and zero-tillage farming, in particular, have a lot of potential for improving productivity and soil health over time. Besides, adopting precision farming techniques, such as the use of sensors, drones, and satellites, will also help the farmers increase site-specific yields. 

Without a doubt, the demand for carbon credit programs is going to shoot up by 15 times by 2030. Thus, Indian agrotech companies are gearing up to introduce carbon credit programs for farmers and teach them the process of acquisition and sale of credits.

Mindful Carbon Offsetting: What Lies Ahead?

The global carbon trading market surely looks promising. However, there are certainly some things you should keep in mind. For instance, greenwashing is a huge problem in the carbon market. 

You are also probably wondering: Do carbon offset programs even work? They do work, but make sure you purchase your carbon offset units from a third-party verified program. You should also check for project transparency, longevity, offset prices, project quality,  and local contributions made by those carbon offset programs.  

All things considered, the carbon offset program market is projected to grow exponentially till 2050. Hence, it is going to become a fundamental demand as the climate crisis intensifies. So, next time you want to offset your flight emissions or plan a climate-conscious event, please invest in a carbon offset program and help our Earth breathe better.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does carbon offset cost?

The prices of carbon offset units depend on the types of offsetting projects offered by the carbon offset programs. Generally, it ranges from $1 per ton to $100+ per ton.

Who issues carbon credits in India?

Globally, carbon credits are issued by the UNFCCC. In India, the Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency regulate the Carbon Credit Trading Program.