How to align with the Oxford Offsetting Principles

Since our inception, The Oxford Offsetting Principles have been fundamental to our vision and everything that we do. What are they, why do they matter, and how can you align with them to ensure that you are on the right path to Net-Zero emissions.

What they are

Very briefly, the Oxford Offseting Principles are four principles created to provide a key resource for the design and delivery of rigorous voluntary net zero commitments by government, cities and companies, and help to align work on credible offsetting around the world.

Companies are increasingly seeking to be carbon neutral or net zero, but they are held back by fears of greenwashing scandals. Aligning with these four principles allows companies to genuinely communicate their efforts with minimal reputational risk.

In short, the principles are:

  • Reduce emissions, ensure integrity and be transparent
  • Use removal instead of avoided emissions
  • Use long term removal as much as possible
  • Support the development of the market

In the following, we cover the principles and explain how you can align your business with them in order to ensure that the credibility of your efforts will not be put into question.

Why they matter

Carbon offsetting has gotten a terrible reputation over the last decade, and for very good reason. The cause is that companies have relied on very cheap, low-quality offsets that don’t actually remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. In combination with over-communication on the impact of offsets, many companies’ efforts can be classified as greenwashing.

However, the science is quite clear: We will not be able to stay within the goals of the Paris Agreement without significant Carbon Removal. Private companies are a key driver of this, and if they cannot compensate for their emissions in a trustworthy manner, we will not be able to scale the technologies needed.

The principles and how to align

“Cut emissions, use high-quality offsets, and regularly revise the offsetting strategy as best practice evolves”

Principle one is all about doing things right and avoiding the main greenwashing pitfalls.

Key point 1.1

“Prioritise reducing your own emissions – Minimise the need for offsets in the first place.”

Alignment 1.1

While we cannot reduce your emissions for you, we can help set a strategy for removal that encourages further reduction towards net-zero emissions. Generally, if you don’t have a plan for how you will reduce, working with offsets is not right for you yet. 

Key point 1.2

“Ensure environmental integrity – Use offsets that are verifiable and correctly accounted for and have a low risk of non-additionality, reversal, and creating negative unintended consequences for people and the environment.”

Alignment 1.2

This is a big one. Making sure that accounting is done correctly and that removals are additional requires a lot of work. Our Co-founder Simon Bager has a PhD in climate science and has created our framework for securing the highest standard possible for additionality, reversal and externalities

Key point 1.3

“Maintain transparency – Disclose current emissions, accounting practices, targets to reach net zero, and the type of offsets you employ.”

Alignment 1.3

We have a public record that allows you to offer complete transparency about your removals. Choosing transparency is up to you, but we provide the tools and the framework to give that transparency. We share every order of carbon removal we ever made, making double-counting impossible. 

“Shift to carbon removal offsetting”

This is a big one, but luckily it’s also quite easy to achieve if you are willing to go the extra mile. This principle is about moving from projects that avoid emissions entering the atmosphere (such as windmills) to projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Key point 2.1

Most offsets available today are emission reductions, which are necessary but not sufficient to achieve net zero in the long run. Carbon removals scrub carbon directly from the atmosphere.
Users of offsets should increase the portion of their offsets that come from carbon removals, rather than from emission reductions [avoided emissions].

Alignment 2.1

This one is simple. We focus exclusively on projects that remove CO₂ from the atmosphere. This can be anything from planting trees to Direct Air Capture.

“Shift to long-lived storage”

This one will be harder, more costly, and take longer time to achieve than principle 2. This makes it even more important to start today so that we foster the technological leaps that are required to achieve Net Zero.

Key point 3.1

Short-lived storage involves methods that have a higher risk of being reversed over decades.
Long-lived storage refers to methods of storing carbon that have a low risk of reversal over centuries to millennia, such as storing CO₂ in geological reservoirs or mineralising carbon into stable forms.
Short-lived storage offsets help buy time to reduce emissions and invest in long-lived storage, but they are not a long-term solution for achieving balance between sinks and sources.
It is therefore critical that investment in scaling and improving the technologies that enable long-lived storage begins now. Creating demand for long-lived offsets today sends a signal to the market to grow the supply of these offsets.

Alignment 3.1

In all of our portfolios, we include some long-lived solutions.
The more resources you are willing and able to dedicate to carbon removal, the higher the portion of long-lived methods we can include.
For the lowest cost portfolios, this might just be a few per cent. However, even a small investment helps send a strong market signal, ensuring increased supply over time.
We evaluate all projects for the “outlook”: The degree to which the solution has the potential to scale to a degree that will matter on a global scale.
We also evaluate the inherent risks of the different projects: what can go wrong and how are the projects working to mitigate.

“Support the development of net zero aligned offsetting”

This one is what really brings the value home for your company – and for the planet.

Key point 4.1

Use long-term agreements – give the certainty required by offset project developers to create net zero offsets.

Alignment 4.1

We are developing long-term agreements with all the projects that we engage and the clients that we serve. This way, we can create efficiencies in the supply, and support the best projects in the world to ramp up even faster.

Key point 4.2

Form sector-specific alliances – work collaboratively with peers to develop the market for net zero aligned offsets.

Alignment 4.2

Essentially, this is the vision of Klimate. We are an alliance of responsible companies and suppliers working towards a common goal: a net-zero world. Together, we create a synergy that will increase our collective impact much higher than we could when working individually.

Key point 4.3

Support the restoration and protection of a wide range of natural and semi-natural ecosystems in their own right – not only will this secure the ecosystem goods and services on which humans depend, including resilience to the impacts of climate change, but will contribute to carbon storage over the long term.

Alignment 4.3

Even for companies that are able to neutralise 100% of their emissions using long-lived removal, we encourage them to also invest in projects that go beyond carbon. We call this “co-benefits”, and it is one of our four main selection criteria.

Key point 4.4

Adopting and publicising these Principles, and incorporate them into regulation and standard-setting for approaches to offsetting and Net Zero.

Alignment 4.4

We encourage all clients to communicate their efforts actively, and we even provide you with materials to do so. This is everything from a certificate, that can be shared and verified online, to detailed reports of what you have done. We even create hundreds of social media templates that you can use in your online communication.

Conclusion

We didn’t invent the Oxford Offsetting Principles, but we consider ourselves as advocates and hope you will join us in aligning with these principles. Offsets are not perfect, but they can be much better than they have been historically.

We want to empower companies to do better when they do good. Beyond these, we also work to align our product with The Science-Based Targets initiative and their recently launched Net Zero standard. More on this to come soon!

We are here for you

Finding the right way to remove your CO emissions can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we are always here to help. You can book a meeting to walk through how our solution might fit your needs, or simply send us a messsage.