Huffman, Grijalva, Castor Call on GAO to Ensure Credibility, Transparency of Carbon Offsets

August 30, 2022

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02), Chair of the Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee and member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Natural Resources Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (FL-11) sent a letter to GAO regarding transparency and standards for voluntary carbon offsets.

There has been a dramatic increase in the demand for voluntary natural climate offset programs, following guidance from the Glasgow Climate Pact. However, these programs have varying metrics and standards, leaving them open to fraud and misleading consumers without taking meaningful climate action.

“Metrics to gauge the efficacy of offsets – including measuring, reporting, and verification – vary from program to program, making it difficult for consumers to understand their purchase and for policymakers to quantify the impact of these markets. Markets thrive with transparency, while a lack of transparency carries inherent market risk. Consumers of voluntary climate offsets require transparency and well-defined standards in the natural carbon offsets market given the wide variety and possibility for fraud,” the members wrote in the letter.

“We must do all we can to implement meaningful solutions to the climate crisis. As natural climate carbon offsets gain popularity, it is essential we understand (1) the current market environment and (2) gaps in protocols for assessing market quality and credibility in order to provide clarity for market operators and transparency for offset purchasers,” the members continued.

The members went on to request that the GAO conduct a study on five specific items:

  1. How, if at all, federal efforts to quantify carbon reductions from offsets and/or assess the quality of natural carbon offsets are coordinated;
  2. How, if at all, federal agencies coordinate involvement with natural climate offsets and offset markets;
  3. What actions, if any, could federal agencies take to help increase transparency in private voluntary carbon offset markets, such as the development of standard metrics for offsets;
  4. How federal agencies can assist in preventing fraud and abuse of voluntary nature-based carbon offsets;
  5. What actions, if any, federal agencies can take to help ensure equity and equal access to voluntary markets.

The full letter can be viewed here.