Carbon Free Boston: Offsets Technical Report
Walsh, Michael J.
Cutler, Cleveland J.
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Citation (published version)Maron, Ariella, Kevin Zheng,Michael J. Walsh, Peter Fox-Penner, and Cutler J. Cleveland. 2019. Carbon Free Boston: Offsets Technical Report (Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy, Boston, MA, USA). Available at http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/technical-reports.
OVERVIEW: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines offsets as a specific activity or set of activities intended to reduce GHG emissions, increase the storage of carbon, or enhance GHG removals from the atmosphere . From a city perspective, they provide a mechanism to negate residual GHG emissions— those the city is unable to reduce directly—by supporting projects that avoid or sequester them outside of the city’s reporting boundary. Offsetting GHG emissions is a controversial topic for cities, as the co-benefits of the investment are typically not realized locally. For this reason, offsetting emissions is considered a last resort, a strategy option available when the city has exhausted all others. However, offsets are likely to be a necessity to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and promote emissions reductions in the near term. While public and private sector partners pursue the more complex systems transformation, cities can utilize offsets to support short-term and relatively cost-effective reductions in emissions. Offsets can be a relatively simple, certain, and high-impact way to support the transition to a low-carbon world. This report focuses on carbon offset certificates, more often referred to as offsets. Each offset represents a metric ton of verified carbon dioxide (CO2) or equivalent emissions that is reduced, avoided, or permanently removed from the atmosphere (“sequestered”) through an action taken by the creator of the offset. The certificates can be traded and retiring (that is, not re-selling) offsets can be a useful component of an overall voluntary emissions reduction strategy, alongside activities to lower an organization’s direct and indirect emissions. In the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC), the GHG accounting system used by the City of Boston, any carbon offset certificates that the City has can be deducted from the City’s total GHG emissions.
Part of a series of reports that includes: Carbon Free Boston: Summary Report; Carbon Free Boston: Social Equity Report; Carbon Free Boston: Technical Summary; Carbon Free Boston: Buildings Technical Report; Carbon Free Boston: Transportation Technical Report; Carbon Free Boston: Waste Technical Report; Carbon Free Boston: Energy Technical Report; Available at http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/
RightsCopyright © 2019 by the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. This work and its associated results are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.