An aerial photo shows the reforestation and restoration of degraded mangrove lands through a sustainable livelihood and community development project in Myanmar. Photo: Carbon Offset Research & Education

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world has until 2030 to cut human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in half (and cut other greenhouse gas emissions considerably) to maintain a 50% chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

By 2050, CO2 emissions will need to reach “net zero” – where emissions are in balance with removals – to sustain this chance. Such reductions will require worldwide action by national and local governments, along with businesses and civil society.

The urgency is clear: incremental steps to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will not be enough. Companies and organizations will need to use every tool at their disposal to achieve emission reduction goals. “Carbon offsets” are one such tool that – if used responsibly – can accelerate action to avert dangerous climate change.

This guide is for companies and organizations seeking to understand carbon offsets and how to use them in voluntary GHG reduction strategies. It may also be useful for individuals interested in using carbon offsets to compensate for their personal emissions.