What are Carbon Credits?

Carbon credits, also called carbon allowances, are often considered as a unit of measurement, however they do include the “tradeable” element. Carbon credits aren’t the equivalent to carbon offsets.

Carbon credits are only available only in those jurisdictions that are run by the “Cap and Trade” system (such as the California Cap-and-Trade Program, which is managed by the California Air Resources Board).

Carbon credits are a product of the governing entity and distributed to the companies in that region. One credit equals 1 tonnes of CO2e (or carbon dioxide equivalent) that the business is permitted to emit.

Key Highlights

A carbon credit is one tonne of CO2e an entity is allowed to emit.
Carbon credits are only available on markets that are governed by Cap & Trade regulations.
Teams of management who emit less than their limit of carbon credits can resell them on the carbon market that is corresponding to their emission.
Carbon credits are not the same thing as carbon offsets.

Find out more at carbon.credit.

How do Carbon Credits Function?

The amount of credits granted to a particular business or entity represents its emission limits (or “cap” taken from Cap & Trade).

If a team of managers is able to keep the company’s emissions to a level that is less than its limit and the company has an excess of carbon credits. They may decide to keep them for later use (or for sale) or, alternatively they can offer them for sale immediately to the market for compliance carbon, which is controlled by the regulatory body.

If the management team is unable to reduce company emissions to a limit, they’re in violation and must pay for the deficit. Over-emitters use the carbon market to buy carbon credits with the “under-emitter” inside the Cap & Trade network.

Do Carbon credits count as the same as offsets?

They’re not. Carbon offsets and carbon credits are determined as tonnes of CO2e making it difficult for those who aren’t aware that offsets and carbon credits are different things.

As opposed to carbon credits offsets aren’t created and distributed through a certain regulatory agency. They’re also not restricted to specific regulatory bodies (like carbon credit are) in actual fact, they are able to trade at any time on any number of “voluntary markets” all over the world.

Credits and. Offsets

Any organization (public, private, governmental, etc.) can elect to engage in carbon reduction projects – either because management/leadership believes it’s the right thing to do or because they wish to generate carbon offsets, which can, in turn, be monetized on the carbon markets.

Carbon reduction initiatives generally fall into two categories, which are mechanical or based on nature. Natural-based initiatives are reforestation, and wetland rejuvenation initiatives as well as strategies that “naturally” absorb carbon into the earth. Mechanical solutions typically involve investments in cutting-edge technologies that lead to improved efficiency or less emission (like green energy or carbon-capture direct technology).

Carbon credits are an instrument for “cap” emission levels (meaning allowed emissions) carbon offsets can be considered an indicator unit that can be used for “compensate” an company to invest in green projects or initiatives (whether technological or natural) which reduce emissions.

When an offset is established the offset can be kept by the entity that completed that project or become traded in a carbon market.