Carbon offset projects: Gold Standard

We have already discussed how CO2 compensation programs actually work in our previous post. In short: cleaning Earth’s atmosphere from human-produced carbon dioxide costs money. The amount of money spent on such environmental purposes can be confirmed by special certificates. The certificates are usually valid for a significant amount of time (35-40 years). Various organizations aiming at creating a more sustainable future currently exist. Such organizations develop, for example, anti-deforestation projects or planting new trees campaigns. Very often they also contribute to a more sustainable development of less-developed societies.

Naturally, a control mechanism has to be set-up, to ensure that the money really does go to its intended destination. Such quality control organizations ensure that the carbon offset process is working efficiently.

Gold Standard

The Gold Standard is one of the most (if not the most) rigorous standard and a logo certification mark for carbon emission reduction products. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) supports the standard. This standard ensures that various environmental projects and organizations are actually reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It also ensures that such projects provide benefits to the local population of the developing countries. 

Over 80 civil society groups all over the world are currently supporting the Gold Standard, including its original founder – the WWF. The Gold Standard exists to ensure that everyone purchasing carbon offsets is really contributing to fighting the climate change.

History of the Gold Standard

The history of the Gold Standard begins in 2003 when WWF, SouthSouthNorth, and Helio International first started its development. In May 2006 they have launched The Voluntary Gold Standard, a methodology for use within the voluntary carbon market. A 12-months preparation period preceded the creation of this new standard. During this period many NGOs, scientists, project developers and government representatives held 
multiple workshops and web-based consultation sessions. 

The Gold Standard Foundation is administering the project. The Foundations’s headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. It is, therefore, a non-profit organization under the Swiss Law.  

The Gold Standard criteria

According to WWF a Gold Standard project must meet the following strict criteria:

• 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.

How to support a project

The Gold Standard web-site makes it really easy for everyone to contribute to climate security. By supporting a project you also help the local communities to gain access to critical services like energy, safe water, food and education. 

Moreover, you can quickly and easily estimate your own carbon footprint via a WWF footprint calculator. A list of specific tools for individual countries can be found here

The Gold Standard currently has more than 1400 certified projects in over 80 countries. The projects include forest regeneration, creating green-energy farms, as well as safe water access projects or sustainable cooking stoves. You can find the complete list of all projects here

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