This page last reviewed June 17, 2013
Compliance Offset Program
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) understands that the Climate
Action Reserve (Reserve) and the American Carbon Registry (ACR) may
have issued various types of guidance, errata, and clarification
(guidance) documents related to the implementation of the voluntary
protocols under the Reserve’s and ACR’s voluntary offset programs.
For early action quantification methodologies (approved Reserve protocols), guidance issued by the Reserve or ACR prior to October 20, 2011 on their voluntary protocols may continue to be relied upon until the project transitions to the Compliance Offset Protocol (COP). Guidance issued by the Reserve and ACR after October 20, 2011 is currently under ARB review with regard to its applicability to the early action quantification methodologies. If the guidance pertains to sections of the quantification methodology that are silent or ambiguous, then ARB will determine if the guidance is reasonable and consistent with the quantification methodology before allowing its use. Guidance that alters the clear language of an early action quantification methodology will not be applicable. For questions or clarifications regarding ARB’s Compliance Offset Protocols or early action quantification methodologies, please contact an approved Offset Project Registry or ARB directly. Both ACR and the Reserve are approved as Early Action Offset Programs and may issue early action offset credits that may be submitted to ARB for consideration for conversion to ARB Offset Credits.
For the purposes of the Compliance Offset Program, only ARB-issued guidance for Compliance Offset Protocols is considered valid.
ARB offset credits are greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions or GHG removal enhancements that meet regulatory criteria and may be used by an entity to meet up to eight percent of its triennial compliance obligation under the Cap-and-Trade Program. Each ARB offset credit is equal to 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) and can only be quantified using an ARB approved Compliance Offset Protocol. Subarticle 13 of the Cap-and-Trade Regulation details the legal requirements for Compliance Offset Protocols, implementation and verification of offset projects, and issuance of ARB offset credits. Once an ARB offset credit is issued, it may be used for compliance up to applicable limits with the Cap-and-Trade Program. Only ARB can issue compliance offset credits for use in the Cap-and-Trade Program.
ARB has adopted four Compliance Offset Protocols that may be used to generate ARB offset credits.
- U.S. Forest Projects Compliance Offset Protocol
- Urban Forest Projects Compliance Offset Protocol
- Livestock Projects Compliance Offset Protocol
- ODS Compliance Offset Protocol
Note: Additional Compliance Offset Protocols will be considered as part of future rulemaking activities.
All compliance offset projects must be developed according to ARB approved Compliance Offset Protocols. Offset Project Operators must list their offset projects with an approved Offset Project Registry to be eligible for ARB offset credits. Please see the Compliance Offset Projects web page (coming soon!) for more information on proposed compliance offset projects.
Potential New Compliance Offset Projects
The Cap-and-Trade Regulation establishes procedures for the
approval of new Compliance Offset Protocols as well as requirements for new
Compliance Offset Protocols. All new
protocols will be developed by ARB, with public input, to satisfy the
requirements of the Regulation. Use ARB
approved Compliance Offset Protocols must be used for quantifying GHG emission
reductions or removal enhancements resulting in ARB offset credits.
Proposed Project Types:
Early Action Offset Credits
Cap-and-Trade Regulation allows for the transition of eligible existing
offset credits developed under approved voluntary quantification methodologies to
ARB offset credits for use in the Cap-and-Trade Program.
Additional information about early action offset credits is available
on the Early Action Offset Credit web page.
Offset Project Registries
Cap-and-Trade Regulation allows ARB to approve Offset Project
Registries to help administer parts of the Compliance Offset
Program. Offset Project Registries must meet specific regulatory
criteria to be approved under the regulation. Offset Project
Registries will help facilitate the listing, reporting, and
verification of offset projects developed using the Compliance Offset
Protocols. However, only ARB can issue compliance offset credits
for use in the Cap-and-Trade Program. For more information please
see the Offset
Project Registry web page.
Offset Verification Program
Cap-and-Trade Regulation requires the third-party verification of all
GHG emission reductions or removal enhancements before any ARB offset
credits may be issued. Only ARB-accredited offset verification
bodies and offset verifiers may provide offset verification services
under the Compliance Offset Program. More information about
offset verification, including a list of approved offset verifiers and verification bodies,
may be found on the Offset Verification Program web page.
Offset Project Operators
Offset Project Operators (OPOs) may use Compliance Offset Protocols to develop compliance offset projects under the Cap-and-Trade Program. The Regulation includes specific requirements that OPOs must meet including listing offset projects, reporting GHG reductions and removal enhancements annually, contracting with an ARB-accredited verification body to conduct offset verification, and submitting attestations to ARB. More information on specific requirements and compliance offset projects can be found on the Offset Project Operators web page.
ARB has developed forms for use in the Compliance Offset Program. These forms may be used by program participants for submitting information related to listing, reporting, verification, and issuance of ARB offset credits. These forms can be found on the Compliance Offset Program Forms web page. In addition, each approved Offset Project Registry will make forms available on its own web page.
Offset Program Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
ARB has developed general guidance on the compliance offset program. In addition, ARB will develop FAQs that address general questions related to the offsets program.
- ARB Instructional Guidance Document
- Guidance for CITSS Registration for Offset Project Operators and Authorized Project Designees
- Coming Soon! Offset Program FAQs