Oxford launches new principles for credible carbon offsetting

Current approaches to carbon offsetting are unlikely to deliver results needed to achieve global climate goals and it is necessary to define a new set of principles according to a study by Oxford University.

The Oxford 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.

Offs-sets are a vital mechanism for achieving net-zero, and pledges from many companies, such as those recently from BP and Google, and the recent 2060 “carbon neutrality” pledge from China are likely to be heavily dependent on this approach, but if not done well, offsetting 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:
Prioritise reducing your own emissions first, ensure the environmental integrity of any offsets used, and disclose how offsets are used.
Shift offsetting towards carbon removal, where offsets directly remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Shift offsetting towards long-lived storage, which removes carbon from the atmosphere permanently or almost permanently.
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.

Full paper here.

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