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Oxford launches new principles for credible carbon offsetting


Oxford launches new principles for credible carbon offsetting

Carbon offsetting is a widespread tool in efforts to achieve net zero emissions. But current approaches to offsetting are unlikely to deliver the types of offsets needed to achieve global climate goals. Net zero pledges from many companies, such as those recently from BP and Google, and the recent 2060 “carbon neutrality” pledge from China are likely to use offsets. But what types of offsets are acceptable and under what conditions should they be used? Launched today, TheOxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting (or ‘The Oxford Offsetting Principles’), provide guidelines to help ensure offsetting actually helps to achieve a net zero society. Source: Oxford

Carbon offsetting, if done properly, can contribute to net zero strategies, especially in hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation and agriculture. However, offsetting, if not done well, can result in greenwashing and create negative unintended impacts for people and the environment.

There are four key elements to credible net zero aligned offsetting, according to the multidisciplinary team from the University of Oxford:

  1. Prioritise reducing your own emissions first, ensure the environmental integrity of any offsets used, and disclose how offsets are used.
  2. Shift offsetting towards carbon removal, where offsets directly remove carbon from the atmosphere;
  3. Shift offsetting towards long-lived storage, which removes carbon from the atmosphere permanently or almost permanently; and
  4. Support for the development of a market for net zero aligned offsets.

The report also highlights the need for a credible approach to nature-based carbon offsets, such as forest restoration.

The authors hope The Oxford OffsettingPrinciples will provide a key resource for the design and delivery of rigorous voluntary net zero commitments by government, cities and companies, and help to align work on credible offsetting around the world.

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