How Do I Get Carbon Credits?

When companies or individuals want to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, they often look at purchasing carbon credits from projects outside of their operation. The purchase helps to support the development of these projects, which reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and can serve as a long-term solution for offsetting a company’s emissions. Carbon credits are traceable, tradable and finite. Once purchased, they are retired on the buyer’s behalf – meaning that once they are bought and retired, they are no longer in circulation.

Companies can purchase in two ways: directly from the project developers or through a middleman. Buying direct from the developer is the most expensive way to buy carbon credits, but it also provides companies with the opportunity to be among the first to benefit from innovative climate technology as it comes to market. Alternatively, companies can buy what are called Emission Reduction Purchase Agreements (ERPAs), which are upfront payments that will be delivered to the company as carbon credits are generated.

Many of the projects that generate carbon credits are forestry or agricultural in nature, although a credit can be created from any type of practice that reduces, avoids, or destroys GHGs. These types of projects are grouped into two large categories or “baskets.” The avoidance basket includes renewable energy and forestry projects, as well as forestry and agriculture practices that limit GHG emissions. This includes projects that stop deforestation or wetland destruction, those that use different soil management techniques in farming to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from dairy and beef production, as well as those that reduce GHGs from cookstoves and fuel efficiency.

The voluntary carbon market has seen rapid growth over the past year, driven by recent corporate commitments to net-zero emissions and an interest in meeting the international climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. In addition to its positive impact, the carbon market offers farmers, landowners and middlemen around the world a new way to make money.

Despite the growing popularity of carbon credit trading, there are some concerns about the impact it may have on the climate. Some experts argue that turning pollution into a commodity to be traded can have moral problems, and it may undermine the sense of shared responsibility for global cooperation needed to address climate change.

In the case of forest carbon projects, a new source of income can help local communities protect and restore forests in the name of mitigating climate change. Using the ClimateTrade marketplace, people can choose from more than 140 certified projects and find one that aligns with their personal or business values, including reforestation, protecting biodiversity, and removing trash from oceans. The marketplace is free to use, and users can select the units, tons or MWh of carbon they wish to offset in order to be transparent about their footprint.