This page last reviewed April 27, 2016

Compliance Offset Program


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ARB Offset Credits Issued  (click for more information)

Project Type ODS Livestock  U.S. Forest Urban Forest MMC  Rice Cultivation
Compliance 5,153,131 643,463 14,791,335 - - 280,667 - -
Early Action 6,261,710 1,551,764 8,313,280 - - 2,520,693 - -

Table includes all offset credits issued including offset credits placed in ARB's Forest Buffer Account, offset credits returned to an Early Action Offset Program’s forest buffer pool, and offset credits subsequently invalidated.

NOTICE: The California Air Resources Board (ARB) understands that the Climate Action Reserve (Reserve), the American Carbon Registry (ACR), and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) may have issued various types of guidance, errata, and clarification (guidance) documents related to the implementation of the voluntary protocols under their voluntary offset programs.

For early action quantification methodologies (approved Reserve and VCS protocols), guidance issued by the Reserve, ACR, or VCS 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, ACR, or VCS 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.  ARB has developed this Supplemental Information on Early Action Project Review document describing ARB's process for assessing guidance, errata, clarifications, and variances issued for early action offset projects.  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.  The Reserve, ACR, and VCS 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.

Compliance Offset Protocols

ARB has adopted the following Compliance Offset Protocols that may be used to generate ARB offset credits. U.S. Forest, Livestock, and Ozone Depleting Substances offset projects listed on or after January 1, 2015 must use the November 14, 2014 Compliance Offset Protocol and all associated documents.

Note: Additional Compliance Offset Protocols will be considered as part of future rulemaking activities. 

See ARB's Process for the Review and Approval of Compliance Offset Protocols.

Compliance Offset Projects

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 Climate Action ReserveAmerican Carbon Registry, or Verified Carbon Standard webpages for information on proposed compliance offset projects. Once projects are issued ARB credits, information about the projects can be found on ARB's Offset Credit Issuance webpage.

Project Types - Webpages

 Early Action Offset Credits Early Action Offset Credits

The 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 Credit Invalidation

Section 95985 of the Cap-and-Trade Regulation establishes a process for ARB to investigate and invalidate issued compliance offset credits. 

Information related to invalidated offset credits can be found below.

Offset Project Registries

The 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.  

Information and documentation for listed compliance offset projects can be viewed on the registry websites below.

Offset Verification Program

The 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.

Offset Project Listing Requirements for Native American Tribes

Tribes, because of their unique status as sovereign nations, must include a limited waiver of sovereign immunity that is legally binding under the Tribe’s laws as part of the offset project listing requirements to participate in the Compliance Offset Program.  Tribes must meet the requirements of sections 95975(c)(1) through (5), and the requirements of section 95975(l) of the Cap-and-Trade Regulation before any offset project located on the categories of land specified in section 95973(d) of the Cap-and-Trade Regulation can be listed under ARB’s Compliance Offset Program.  For more information please see the Offset Project Listing Requirements for Native American Tribes 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.  

For questions or comments, please contact Stephen Shelby at (916) 327-8228 or via email at