The Gold Standard for the Global Goals is a set of standards and indicators to measure the progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It has been developed by an international coalition of governments, civil society, academia and private companies to help track global progress towards the goals.
The indicators will provide insight into how we can get there faster and smarter by measuring what matters most for both people and planet. Projects that are certified by the Gold Standard follow these high standards, and their success is measured in line with these indicators.
All Gold Standard projects permanently and immediately reduces the amount of Co2 that is released into the atmosphere, with checks and balances in place to ensure accountability and prevent fraud. The Gold Standard itself verifies that all projects adheres to their standard, which is the highest in the world, and independent third parties audit the project activities and their impact.
How the carbon credit market works
The Gold Standard projects are funded through emissions trading. Emissions trading is a market-based strategy for managing climate change. Emissions trading schemes are also known as carbon markets.
These types of programs work by setting a limit or cap on the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that may be released by covered entities, such as a power station or industry.
Companies that do not use their full allocation can sell the difference as emissions credits (or “carbon credits”) to others that need additional GHG allowances. One carbon credit represents the removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent from the air (tCO2e).
The carbon credit market provides a novel way of funding for projects and companies that by design have strong Co2-reducing effects, such as wind turbines and solar farms.
Let’s take a solar farm as an example. A solar farm is essentially a large amount of photovoltaic panels that harvests electricity from the sun, and in turn feed electricity back to the power grid, where it’s sold to consumers.
While the large energy companies can fund the construction of their own solar farms and sell the electricity produced for profit, the Gold Standard certified solar farms would not have been built without the credit market funding.
The creation of a solar farm that otherwise wouldn’t exist has a beneficial impact on the local economy and offers a range of advantages for the indigenous population, ranging from employment opportunities to improving air quality.
One of the key concepts of the Gold Standard is “additionality”. To make a project qualify as a genuine carbon offset, it must be additional to what would happen if the project wasn’t carried out.
If a project is viable in and of itself, such as through the sale of power or because of other means of funding, it cannot be used as an offset project since it would have been done regardless. That is to say, such projects are not additional – they don’t add a reduction.
The principle of additionality is crucial because only carbon credits from activities that are “additional to” the normal operation scenario represent a net environmental benefit.
Because carbon credits are often given for activities that would have occurred regardless, emissions are permitted to rise without a corresponding reduction in other sectors, making the system meaningless. The Gold Standard verifies and guarantees that this is not the case for the projects that they certify.
To ensure that the quality or system behind the carbon credits is met, any company or individual thinking about acquiring them must ensure that they’re certified or vetted in some other capacity.
Why the Gold Standard certification matters
At Offsetta, we want to make sure that your money has the biggest possible impact. That’s not only better for you, but for the planet as well, and that’s why we, aside from planting trees, exclusively work with projects that are Gold Standard certified.
Being Gold Standard certified means that the project implements high social and environmental standards. For projects to get certified they must go through a rigorous assessment process. A project needs to not only have a high impact on the environment, but also benefit the people living in the surrounding areas of the project.
While our focus is primarily on the climate, The Gold Standard places equal importance on safeguards for human rights, measures against corruption, and promoting gender equality, among many others.
By supporting Gold Standard projects, you’re not only making a robust contribution in the fight against climate change, but you’re also helping to improve the lives of regular people in developing countries. These communities are often disproportionately impacted by climate change, but has the least responsibility for it.