As popularity of voluntary carbon offsetting grows, guidelines are drawn up for offset providers
News - Published 26.8.2022
Making claims about climate action has become more popular in recent years. Businesses are using claims about carbon neutrality and similar initiatives in their marketing for carbon offset goods and services. Currently, the responsibility for following good offsetting practices largely rests on the users of carbon offsetting services.
However, there are no established definitions or criteria for carbon neutrality or voluntary carbon offsetting by organisations. A project financed by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is therefore drawing up guidelines for those accessing or providing carbon offsetting services.
“We need ground rules on voluntary carbon offsetting to provide consumers with reliable and comparative information on the real climate impacts of businesses and products. It is also in the interest of companies to have clear and transparent practices for communicating about carbon offsetting,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo.
For two years, the Catch the Carbon programme coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been looking into and developing new climate-resilient solutions.
“Among the more than 100 projects we are financing there are projects that provide new information and tools for developing voluntary carbon offsetting in Finland. For example, the Natural Resources Institute Finland has recently launched the hiilikompensaatioinfo.fi website. Voluntary carbon markets are being developed as part of the climate plan for the land use sector. I am pleased about how this new joint project complements the existing package of measures,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Antti Kurvinen.
Through voluntary carbon offsetting, companies, public bodies and consumers can eliminate the harmful climate impact of the greenhouse gas emissions they have generated by reducing or removing an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere. In recent years, several businesses have started offering carbon offset schemes in Finland, but assessing their quality and reliability may be challenging for companies and consumers.
Ground rules for users of carbon offset schemes
The new guidelines will help companies define their climate claims and see how they can reach their carbon neutrality target through carbon offsetting.
The project will:
- define climate concepts, such as carbon neutrality and net zero carbon, and provide advice on what is required to achieve them
- determine the more detailed criteria that organisations should put in place to ensure that the claims made when calculating offsetting units are fulfilled.
The guidelines are mainly intended for organisations that make climate claims through the use of voluntary carbon offsetting. In addition, concise instructions will be drawn up for consumers on what they should take into account when purchasing products marketed with a climate claim. The project will be carried out by Gaia Consulting together with several companies.
Regulation on carbon offsetting is also evolving internationally. For example, the EU is preparing regulation on sustainable carbon cycle certification in the autumn. The guidelines will take into account developments in international and EU legislation.
What happens next?
A stakeholder consultation will be held during the project. The guidelines on voluntary carbon offsetting will be published in January 2023.
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Press release from Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of the Environment 26.8.2022