The Gold Standard, initiated in 2003 by a group of NGOs including WWF, is the most widely respected certification standard globally for carbon offset projects. The Gold Standard ensures that energy efficiency and renewable energy projects actually reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and provide benefits to the local population. Such benefits include positive impacts on the well-being of the community hosting the project.
The Gold Standard is currently supported by over 80 civil society groups around the globe, including WWF. It also has the support of the United Nations, as well as many national governments and corporations.
Carbon offsets are a way for businesses and consumers to compensate for their CO2 emissions by purchasing carbon certificates generated by emission-reduction projects. The income from the sale of certificates enables the project to achieve further reductions.
Everyone purchasing carbon offsets can be confident that the projects they are funding are really helping to fight climate change. The Gold Standard serves as an independent benchmark to evaluate projects internationally. As the carbon offset industry continues to grow, concern also grows that companies may be using offsets to “greenwash” their reputation. The Gold Standard label is a way to ensure that projects are truly effective both ecologically and socially, and to ensure their credibility.
Gold Standard projects must meet the following strict criteria and be verified by UN accredited independent auditors:
• The project contributes to a real reduction of CO2 emissions
• The local population is involved and participates in the project
• The project fosters know-how and experience with renewable energy or energy efficiency technologies in developing countries
• The project respects the environment and contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources