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How Clearloop Avoids Double Counting, a Carbon Offset Hiccup

We’ve all heard of the Paris Climate Agreement – the 2015 international agreement binding 195 participating countries to limit global warming to below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of devastating impacts on ecosystems. While the agreement has expanded global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Climate Agreement has left many in a head spin. 

On one hand, countries are proactively setting ambitious climate goals, like decarbonizing the grid, but on the other, it has left countries and companies alike scrambling to take credit for the reductions and offsets that are created. So how do we know who to give credit for carbon reductions and what’s the deal with double counting? 

What is double counting and why is it a problem?

Essentially, double counting is when two different parties claim the same carbon removal or reduction credit. 

The Simpson's fighting over a carbon credit

For example, an offset developer in country A might sell their credit to company B, but country A might have already claimed that credit to reduce their nation’s emissions and help them reach their Paris Climate Agreement goal. Obviously, this means that on one side or another emissions are higher than are being counted. We need any claims of carbon reductions to be backed up by clear efforts. This ensures that in the rush to take action, we don’t end up with multiple claims over one offset.  Double counting can hurt our efforts, making it seem like we’re closer to our goals than we are.

How does double counting in corporate sustainability happen?

Unfortunately, double counting is not unusual. 

International carbon trading has been a boon for climate efforts because it allows for countries where cutting carbon emissions is cheaper to produce more offsets for companies where offsets are more prohibitive. The competitive advantage of one country’s reduction and offset production can help the global community reach its climate action goals more quickly.

Double counting comes in because there’s no single organization overseeing all carbon trading. As a result, different markets can run in different ways, causing a lot of confusion between the developers and buyers of carbon credits. Add to that the stress of countries reaching their pledged goal – credits are easily miscounted.

How is Clearloop different?

Because we only build solar capacity as a direct result of investment from the companies claiming the offset, the carbon credits created are directly tied and caused by the company making the carbon reductions claim. Once our solar project is built, all of the environmental attributes from the project (either as carbon offsets or RECs) are claimed the moment the contract is signed. During the 40 year life of the solar project, all of the carbon-free power generated is sold back to the local utility as brown power. 

Through binding contracts and third party verification, we can ensure that emissions reductions are never double counted. This way, our partners big and small rest easy knowing their climate action is resulting in tangible and permanent emissions reductions that aren’t being claimed anywhere else.

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Want to learn more about how to reclaim your company’s carbon footprint and expand access to clean energy with Clearloop? Drop us a note at hello@clearloop.us or contact us here.

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