8 Best GHG Registries Approved For Offsetting Carbon Emissions

Everything we do leaves behind a carbon footprint.

Identifying these greenhouse gas emissions and working to reduce and eliminate them is growing in popularity around the world… which is one reason why GHG Registries (Greenhouse Gas Registries) were established.

Greenhouse gases absorb and emit radiant energy within a specific heat range, causing the greenhouse effect, which occurs when radiation from the planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surfaces. When excessive carbon emissions (exasperated by deforestation) become trapped in our atmosphere, scientists agree that it promotes global warming. This warming leads to the climate change symptoms Earth is already experiencing, including melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, habitat disturbance, abnormal and even extreme weather, and a host of additional negative side effects.1

Fighting the impact of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is exactly why registries were established.

Keep reading to learn more…

An 8 Billion Trees graphic of how GHG registries measure business emissions, through three scopes

What is the GHG Registry?

The GHG registry was developed as (and is) a large database used for collecting, tracking, and verifying emissions data that comes from a certain emitter, which is generally categorized as a facility or company. Basically, it’s a centralized list that can be used to keep decision-makers informed about emissions. However, these registries can also be used in a number of ways for a number of purposes.

In fact, one of the most important tasks these registries perform is certifying carbon offsets and enforcing specific guidelines for verification and validation for them.

Not to be confused with national, state, or municipal inventories, registries collect information from individual entities and emitters, while state GHG inventories more give top-to-bottom summaries of varying comprehensiveness regarding total emissions. GHG inventories are also used to help identify aggregate and sectoral trends.

They do not attribute emissions data to specific parties but are used to help collect facility and/or corporate-level information and data.

Each individual GHG registry operates by its own set of rules and regulations which govern project eligibility and registration viability. One example is some registries might include projects that give off ventilation air methane (VAM), while others might not. Some GHG registries will accept methane that was recovered from surface coal mines and abandoned coal mines, while others will solely accept methane that was recovered from active underground mines. There are no universal standards.

GHG Registry History

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was tasked to develop a national GHG registry by the middle of 2008, which was part of an ongoing climate policy discussion at the time, and had been signed into law.1

The mandatory registry was established in the 2008 Congressional appropriations package, and called for and regulated (and continues to do so) emissions reporting that covers all sectors of the American economy. However, the legislation did not specify which facilities and which emissions would be subjected to reporting.

Early on in the process, more than 50% of all voluntary carbon offset transactions had been listed with various registries by 2009, which was up from around 30% before the program started.

Historically, greenhouse gas emissions registries have collected data from fossil fuel, stationary combustion operations occurring at large facilities (like power plants and other large industrial organizations). Additional emissions data can be collected from each reporting entity as well. Typical data might include fugitive emissions (which can be emitted either intentionally or unintentionally), emissions from industrial processes, as well as emissions from company equipment and vehicles.

Since its conception, the GHG registry has made concerted efforts to cover the primary gases that occur within the Earth’s atmosphere — Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), but also hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Registries have also historically included other data like fuel production, electricity use, and more, because by knowing more about these GHG’s, we can all start to do something to reduce and eliminate them.

An 8 Billion Trees graphic of the process of a GHG registry

Best U.S. GHG Registries

Whether or not a project is eligible for GHG credits depends on a number of factors which include start date, end utilization technology (which might include electricity generation compared to pipeline sales, for instance), the origin of gas, and metering and monitoring various techniques.

Organizations are often afforded compliance credits which generally incorporate third-party registries to help serve the process, which includes collecting, verifying, and tracking corporate emissions, not to mention emission reduction data, which is equally important.

The following are some of the most reputable GHG registries in the United States.

1. American Carbon Registry

The American Carbon Registry (ACR) started in 1996 and is an organization dedicated to the idea that markets are the most highly effective tool to tackle climate change. Categorized as a voluntary offset program and was the first of its kind in the United States, the ACR develops its own standards and methods for specific industry sectors (forestry, livestock, carbon sequestration, landfill). ACR makes it a point to take into consideration other standards and methodologies, like CDM, VCS, as well as U.S. EPA Climate Leaders.

2.The Climate Registry

The Climate Registry (TCR), a non-profit organization, tasks itself with empowering North American companies and organizations to take a more active role and be held accountable in the fight against climate change. TCR provides services and tools that help organizations reduce emissions created as a byproduct of their day-to-day operations.

3.Climate Action Reserve

Climate Action Reserve (also known as CAR) is a registry that is also a nonprofit based in California which started in 2008. CAR has helped establish standards that assist in developing, quantifying, and verifying projects that involve GHG emission reduction.
CAR standards are outlined protocols for project-specific sectors which include forest, urban forest, livestock, landfill, CMM, organic waste digestion, ozone-depleting substances, as well as nitric acid production.

4.Chicago Climate Exchange

Chicago Climate Exchange (known more popularly as CCX) launched in 2000 and operates on a cap-and-trade system. A company needs to be a member of their Exchange which requires a legally binding commitment to an ambitious reduction schedule. While in the Exchange, an organization is subject to annual emissions verifications and must meet specific carbon emissions reduction marks based on their own respective baselines.

5.Global Carbon Project

Formed to assist the international science community, the Global Carbon Project (GCP) is an organization actively integrating knowledge of greenhouse gases for human activities and the Earth system. Since they were established in 2001, GCP’s projects have included global budgets for the three most dominant greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide). The GCP’s efforts extend to urban, regional, cumulative, and negative emissions as well.

6.Global Atmosphere Watch

A program of partnership, the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme of WMO has a primary focus of building a unified and coordinated global understanding of atmospheric composition as well as its change. GAW improves an organization’s understanding of interactions that occur between our atmosphere, the oceans as well as the biosphere.

GAW has become adept at coordinating their high-end atmospheric composition data across both local and global scales, helping to drive impact science while also helping produce research-driven products and services.

7.Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust terms itself as a leading global expert partner for businesses, governments, as well as organizations. Carbon Trust team’s 200+ consultants, specialists, engineers, and other experts are branched out across the UK, China, Amsterdam, Mexico, South Africa, and Singapore, helping organizations realize ambitious game plans for a more sustainable, low carbon future. Adopting a strategy that assesses both risks and opportunities, Carbon Trust helps organizations measure and analyze their current carbon footprint as well as assist organizations in building more sustainable operations.

Forest view in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Sugarlands, Tennessee.

8.Verified Carbon Standard (Verra VCS) Formerly Voluntary Carbon Standard

Standards are necessary for verifying carbon emissions reductions. The Voluntary Carbon Standard program (VCS) began in 2006 and was categorized as a “pilot program” setting the global standard and providing a clear framework that has helped verify voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reductions. With a full-scale VCS standard that was released in 2007, the VCS became the very first multiple registry system operating in the voluntary carbon market and included a few international registries like APX inc., Caisse des Depots (Europe), and Markit (United States, United Kingdom, and Asia Pacific regions).

The VCS followed the use of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which differentiated this organization from the rest of the pack and provided a framework for developing or revising new and existing CDM methodologies. This voluntary standard eventually became the current VCS, which uses ‘verified’ instead.

Verified carbon standards are crucial in the certification of GHG emission reduction projects and it’s important to utilize a leading voluntary program (like Verra, for instance), which is the current leading VCU marketplace.

Verra helps to accelerate “measurable climate action and sustainable development outcomes by driving large-scale investment to activities that reduce emissions, improve livelihoods, and protect nature.”2

These certification programs and standards are used and recognized by companies and governments around the world because they include stringent guidelines that focus on transparency and performance. In the end, making a positive change for the planet requires identifying the problem and taking the correct measures to alter the status quo, and this is exactly what GHG registries help organizations do on a daily basis.


References

1United States Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). 1U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report Archive. Retrieved May 24, 2021, from epa.gov: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/us-greenhouse-gas-inventory-report-archive

2Verra. (n.d.). 2 About Verra. Retrieved May 24, 2021, from Verra.org: https://verra.org/about-verra/what-we-do/