A Comparison of Carbon Offset Standards - Making Sense of the Voluntary Carbon Market



Posted on 10 March 2008
Sankampaeng solar powered electricity-generating station. Chiang Mai Thailand.
Sankampaeng solar powered electricity-generating station. Chiang Mai Thailand.
© WWF-Canon / Adam OSWELLEnlarge
The Gold Standard for carbon offsets has come out on top after research which, for the first time, rates voluntary offset standards according to clear quality criteria.

This report discusses the role of the voluntary carbon market and provides an overview of the most important currently available carbon offset standards. It compares the following standards side-by-side, outlining the most pertinent aspects of each:
• Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
• Gold Standard (GS)
• Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS)
• VER+
• The Voluntary Offset Standard (VOS)
• Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX)
• The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCBS)
• Plan Vivo System
• ISO 14064-2
• WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol for Project Accounting

The report is meant to be a comprehensive reference. To maximize the readability and transparency of the report, we distinguish between the following types of information:
• Background information describes principles and mechanisms of the offset market in general. This report uses the CDM as the baseline standard against which all the other standards are compared. It also includes an explanation of the CDM project cycle and the main actors involved in CDM offset projects. The information in these sections is presented as objectively as possible and with minimal editorializing. The appendices include further background information. Background information appears in black.
• Standard Comparisons and Summaries include specific information about each standard as well as comparison tables. The information in these sections is presented as objectively as possible and with minimal editorializing. Standard comparisons and descriptions are titled in blue or on a blue background.
• Authors’ Comments are sections where the authors express their opinions and value judgments. Editorial comments and opinions about each standard can be found at the end of the standard description. In their brief comments, the authors focus on what they consider the main strengths and weaknesses of each standard. Editorial comments are indicated by a vertical bar on the left.


Sankampaeng solar powered electricity-generating station. Chiang Mai Thailand.
Sankampaeng solar powered electricity-generating station. Chiang Mai Thailand.
© WWF-Canon / Adam OSWELL Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required