Every power plant from Maine to New York, and utilities in California, are required to purchase one allowance from the State governments for every ton of CO2 they emit. The number of these allowances is capped. When you purchase our carbon allowances, we buy the same allowances these dirty power plants need to operate, reducing the number of available allowances and directly limiting emissions.

Carbon Offset

A certificate that equates to one ton of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) not emitted due to an investment in a carbon reduction project. Typical projects include re-forestation, prevention of deforestation, or methane capture. Carbon Offsets can be difficult or impossible to verify or enforce.

Carbon Allowance

A legal document issued by a government agency permitting the bearer to emit one ton of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) into the atmosphere. The total number of allowances available (a.k.a. the Carbon Cap) is pre-determined and legally binding, meaning that retiring one allowance reduces the maximum pollution allowed by one ton of carbon dioxide.

The market for carbon offsets has changed rapidly over the past decade and has left consumers vulnerable to unreliable claims of carbon reduction. The wildly variable quality of offsets on the market reflects the inherent uncertainty in offset projects, perverse economic incentives that motivate project implementers to inflate reductions, and lax or absent regulation. This uncertainty has resulted in a severe, but not unwarranted, crisis of faith in carbon offsets. This is why we procure Carbon Allowances, rather than offsets.

We participate in two primary markets for our clients: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California’s cap-and-trade program.

RGGI Market

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. Learn more here.

California Market

Developed as part of a suite of measures under AB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act) to reduce emissions, California’s cap-and-trade program covers 450 businesses responsible for about 85% of the state’s total GHG emissions. The program is coordinating with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) to link with other programs (currently Quebec). Learn more here.