Domestic offset projects in Europe – exchanging experiences, identifying opportunities


Domestic offset projects not only have the potential to achieve emission reductions in sectors and by entities not addressed by the EU ETS, but can also foster innovation, deliver co-benefits for the region and bring forward voluntary methods as blueprints for the compliance markets. It is therefore paramount to explore how to join efforts and scale up the impact of domestic carbon offsetting across Europe in order to contribute to ambitious climate action and to support the transformation towards low-carbon economies.

For this reason, the Gold Standard Foundation and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) organised an expert workshop on domestic carbon initiatives in Europe on 19 June 2015, supported by adelphi. It facilitated the dialogue among domestic offset initiatives in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The conference provided a vital, productive first step in an effort to institutionalize mutual learning and to establish a forum for coordination.

adelphi provided conceptual and organisational support. In particular, a workshop report will summarise findings and recommendations (to be published in autumn 2015), and an article (see link) provides impetus for further discussions by experts and the interested public across Europe. At the conference, adelphi also fed in insights from an analysis on the German carbon offset market e.g. to shed light on consumer preferences regarding domestic offset projects. Furthermore, adelphi provided insights on experiences and opportunities regarding platforms for dialogue and cooperation.

The following key lessons and recommendations emerged from the conference:

Learn from domestic offset initiatives: They are important not only in that they incentivize additional efforts to protect the climate beyond mandatory measures. The voluntary carbon market furthermore fulfils an important “sandbox” function.

There is a continued need for a dialogue platform and to institutionalize deeper cooperation against the backdrop of heterogeneous initiatives with diverse scopes, interests, problem perceptions and actors: Promising activities include disseminating and discussing ideas and experiences with further stakeholders, developing joint concepts and language, resolving and suggesting joint approaches and understanding for regulatory questions including double counting and the post-2020 framework.

Provide adequate finance: These activities will allow developing a clear framing for the way forward. There is a desire to join efforts in this regard; however, this will require tapping adequate resources.

Publications of this project