To keep global warming below Paris Agreement levels of 1.5-2.0°C, greenhouse gas emissions need to be net-zero. As absolute emissions generally cannot be zero, offsetting is required, so that emissions minus offsets can be zero (i.e., net-zero emissions).
Different offset schemes may not be of the same quality when it comes to stopping global warming. Previously we have explored guidelines to strengthen the climate benefits of offsetting. Here we develop the topic to suggest a framework for classifying offsets based on the risks they are likely to pose to climate stability if widely used.
We apply our offset climate ratings to some different types of offsets, including the sorts of schemes proposed by major oil companies, and the PAS 2060 carbon-neutrality standard.
Some offsets are economic tools to provide cost benefits for emissions reductions. Climate offsetting requirements are more demanding. The framework grades offsets from most to least benefit by helping classify offsets’ climate risks. Ultimately, to stabilize global warming, policymakers will need to encourage the use of high-quality offsets.
Q Rayer and P Walton (2021). Risk-Rating GHG Emissions Offsets based on Climate Requirements. American Geophyscial Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, 13-17 December 2021. Session: Advancing Equitable Science Policy: Frameworks, Stories, and Best Practices. Poster SY25F-13. https://agu2021fallmeeting-agu.ipostersessions.com/Default.aspx?s=E6-F6-A6-36-BE-D0-AA-25-D9-F2-8D-40-8E-D7-6C-BC