Different kinds of carbon offsets – a quick guide

Since the start of carbon offsetting, a lot has happened. We have learned more about how we can efficiently and effectively finance the transition to a sustainable society, and these insights have allowed for the offsets to develop in several aspects. Here, we will explain the different kinds of offsets that one can choose from.

Avoided emissions

At GoClimate, we offer carbon offsetting in a type of projects that are referred to as Avoided Emissions. The idea is to prevent emissions which would have been released if it had not been for this project.

To explain with an example: in a village, everyone is cooking over open fires and collect firewood in the forest nearby. The project developer supplies improved cookstoves, which contains the heat and reduces the amount of firewood needed. The savings in firewood (reduced deforestation) is measured, and then converted into a common unit – tonnes of CO2, which can be purchased by those who want to support this project.

Perhaps the most common type of projects that can be categorized as avoided emissions are renewable energy projects. The current (polluting) energy production is compared to the installation and production of clean energy, and the difference is considered avoided emissions.

You can read more about climate projects in this previous post, and on our project page.

One kind of improved cookstove

Another type of project that avoids emissions can be natural resource management, or the protection of forests. Areas which are in danger of being deforested are identified and the protection of them is financed, to make sure that they keep storing (and capturing) carbon dioxide. This has additional benefits of biodiversity protection, but it can be hard to prove that the flora would be degraded without the protection.


Another type of offsets is referred to as removals. There are two main types of removals, where the simplest form is tree planting (reforestation or afforestation*). Tree planting can have additional benefits for the biodiversity and local populations, and is definitely needed to restore damaged ecosystems. However, although the trees bind CO2 while they grow and live, this will be released at the end of their life. This can happen unintentionally in a forest fire or naturally after 80 years, but this does not guarantee a permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Are there permanent removals of CO2 from the atmosphere? Yes, but it’s costly and energy intensive. These technologies are sometimes called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), or Direct Air Capture (DAC). The most well-known initiative for this is probably the Swiss company Climeworks, whose technology aims to “vacuum clean” the air from CO2. Another pioneer is Project Vesta, which will use natural wave energy to capture CO2 into rocks (weathering). These technologies are under development, and need to scale up to be really useful.

Climeworks aim to suck CO2 from the air

What should you choose?

What should we focus on? We at GoClimate believe that “if your faucet is running, you should turn it off before you start mopping the floor”, which is why we are offering offsets in the form of avoided emissions. We urgently need to stop emitting CO2, and offsetting is effectively a way to help finance the transition to renewable energy globally. But the scary truth is that as we are not doing this fast enough, we will need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to keep global warming from spinning out of control. And to invest in it now is necessary for the research and development to happen fast enough for the technologies to scale. If these methods are only available in 50 years, it will simply be too late.

Therefore, GoClimate is currently investigating how we can also support removals as a way to stop climate change. Stay tuned to find out more and be part of the movement!

* Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees (forestation) in an area where there was no previous tree cover

A survey on the view of the individual carbon footprint, carbon offsetting and GoClimate

During the summer 2020, we conducted a Swedish and an English survey with ten questions among all the people who offset their carbon footprint with GoClimate. A whopping 620 people participated, corresponding to 13% of our members at that point in time.

According to our English survey, 76% have reduced their carbon footprint since they joined GoClimate. Among other things, they have installed solar panels, they eat less meat, fly less and eat more vegan food than before. 23% say that they have not made any changes to impact their carbon footprint and 0.6% (1 person) say that they have increased their footprint.

In response to the question of how they view their personal carbon footprint, around 90% of the English respondants (80% of the Swedish) state that they are working actively to reduce their footprint. 3% say that they would like to, but don’t know how. Another 4% say that they are not working actively with reducing their footprint. Political actions and financial incentives are mentioned as critical parts to enable necessary lifestyle changes.

What's your attitude to your individual carbon footprint? This diagrams shows the number of people who use carbon offsetting that are actively working on reducing their carbon footprint and how many that are not.
90% of all members that carbon offset say they are working on reducing their carbon footprint.

Most members are happy with our calculator and the type of projects we support. What we can get better at is providing guidance and support to reduce the carbon footprint. Over 20% didn’t know that we have a blog, where we educate on topics related to the carbon footprint and offer tips for how to reduce the emissions.

The reasons for our members to carbon offset with GoClimate is that it’s easy, that people want to do everything they can for the environment, and because there are parts of the carbon footprint which are hard to amend. Other reasons are that GoClimate is a small organization offering transparency about where the money goes, and that it’s perceived as clear, agile and trustworthy. This is an easy way to make an extra difference for the climate, adding to what is already done in the everyday life by these committed people.

Among the respondents behavioral change was considered important to stop climate change. The answer to the question “How important do you think behavioral change is to stop climate change?” was 8.8 in average on a scale 0-10.

The majority of the respondents found out about us via recommendations and social media. So please keep discussing the climate with friends, tell them about us and share blog posts and our infographics on Instagram.

Find the results of the 2019 member survey on carbon footprint, carbon offsetting and GoClimate here.

Uberlândia landfills I and II Energy Project

We have now offset another 25,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!

For the first time, we are investing in a project located in Brazil. Parabéns to us! The project is a Landfill to Gas Energy Project located in Uberlândia, in the state of Minas Gerais. Here, greenhouse gas emissions from two adjacent landfills are collected and converted into energy.

Collecting GHG from the landfill to convert it to energy

How does this work? As in most places in the world, the garbage that is generated by the local population is collected by garbage collectors and taken to a solid waste deposal site, also known as a landfill. In this case, this is done by a local company called Limpebrás Resíduos Ltda. The first of the Uberlândia landfills received waste from 1995 to 2010, and the second one started in 2010 with an expected 18 years of lifetime. Uberlândia I has during its operation received approximately 2,100,000 tonnes of domestic waste! This is being treated with significant care for the environment to prevent environmental damage, especially to avoid leachate into the ground.

Carefully managed landfill

But the contamination is not the only concern for landfills. The decomposing of organic waste in the landfill is also causing significant emissions of the greenhouse gas methane, CH4. Methane is a less common but stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, so the climate impact is about 25 times higher! This is why we in some places (like in Sweden) can collect separated organic waste and turn it into energy. However, this infrastructure is not yet available in all parts of the world. So, this project instead aims to collect the methane that is generated at the existing landfills, then combust it in a contained environment in order to produce energy for the local energy grid. The project will last for as long as the landfills release methane, which is until a few years after the landfill is full.

Landfill to Gas Energy Plant

Some people call this renewable energy. We are not too happy with that definition, as garbage in itself is not a renewable resource. Project Drawdown calls this “a transitional strategy for a world that wastes too much” – which we agree with. “In a sustainable world, waste would be composted, recycled, or re-used; it would never be thrown away because it would be designed at the outset to have residual value, and systems would be in place to capture it”. GoClimate fully supports this statement, while recognizing that we are not there yet. As the waste is already at the landfill and causing these emissions as we speak, we’re on board to do what we can to stop them and turn it into energy, until the global waste management can catch up in terms of reduction and recycling. Given the climate urgency, this is not an either-or question, we need to do both!

The workers who collect the garbage

 Apart from the reduced emissions from collecting the methane, we are also helping to displace fossil fuels as we provide alternative energy to the network. The project is also creating more qualified job opportunities for the local population, and the monitoring of the project has not found any negative impact for the people who do ad-hoc recycling of the garbage. Finally, the project has also reduced the odor coming from the landfill. When the project was initiated, there were no landfill to gas projects in the country which did not receive additional financing from carbon credits, so we feel confident that this is a project with high additionality.

Read more about the project in the Gold Standard Registry or in the CDM Registry

See our retired credits HERE

Want to contribute to this, and other similar projects? Calculate your carbon footprint and transition to a climate neutral life today!

Dora II Geothermal Energy Plant

We have now offset another 25,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!

This time, we are financing a new technology that we haven’t been involved with before – geothermal energy production! We are really excited to see that there are projects of this type available on the voluntary carbon credit market now, and we’ll tell you all about why this is so important.

Dora II

This project is called Dora II, and it is a geothermal energy production plant in the Aydin province in Turkey. The plant has an installed capacity of 9.5 MWe with an annual electricity production of 70,000 MWh. Geothermal plants use the heat that is stored in the ground to produce electricity. The very short tech summary is that this project utilizes something called a Binary cycle system, where fluid obtained from a well that is dug into the ground transmits its temperature to another fluid (pentane, that has a lower evaporation degree), which powers a turbine that produces electricity.

Geothermal energy is a great way to complement other renewable energies, like wind and solar, because it offers a constant supply that is not dependent on the weather. It is therefore considered a baseload, or readily dispatchable power. It can take place at all hours and under almost any weather conditions, it is reliable, efficient, and the heat source itself is free.

Geothermal energy production in Turkey

However, only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s potential geothermal power has been tapped, according to Project Drawdown. There is still a lot to discover, but it is believed that some 7 to 13 percent of the current global energy consumption could be satisfied with geothermal energy. This makes it one of the top 20 solutions to climate change as listed by Project Drawdown. However, this will only be possible if we together assume the costs of early investment and developments. That is why we at GoClimate are so excited to be supporting this project!

Turkey is a country with a huge and growing energy demand, which to a large extent is satisfied with fossil fuels that are imported from other countries. 86,5 percent of the energy supply in Turkey came from fossil fuels in 2018, and the majority of it (almost all the oil and natural gas) is imported. By growing the share of domestically produced renewable energy, Turkey can move towards satisfying its energy demands in a more sustainable way and help lead the development of green technology. This will help push down the prices of renewable energy technology, as we have seen with wind and solar before, and make geothermal energy more accessible to low income countries with high potential for geothermal (the possibility to access geothermal energy depends a lot on the composition of the earth’s crust).

Geothermal energy is location sensitive

More information about this project in the Gold Standard registry (including verification and monitoring reports) HERE

Belen Wind Power Plant

We have now offset another 50,000 ton CO2eq in a Gold Standard certified project! Thank you for taking part in this!

Renewable energy has to make up a larger share of the market globally, which is why we are now financing the Belen Wind Project in Turkey. The major purpose of the project activity is providing electricity from renewable sources to the rapidly growing Turkish electricity market.

The project is expected to generate about 135,000 MWh of electricity per year and prevent approximately 74,444 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually compared to the baseline scenario. Even though wind is increasing in Turkey, there is a heavy reliance on fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and the share of natural gas has grown to reach the same proportion as the other sources. We want to finance this kind of projects to show that there is support for sustainable energy, and spread awareness of the feasibility of better alternatives.

This project consists of an installation of 16 wind turbines, each having a capacity of 3000 kW, in Belen, on the Southeast Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The wind farm provides a total capacity of 48MW and is connected to the national grid. The project employs state of the art technology and installed high capacity 3MW turbines instead of 1.5MW turbines that used to be installed in the earlier days of wind energy developments in Turkey. These new turbines enable better use of the wind potential with a reduced project footprint area, minimising the impact on the natural environment.

It is worth mentioning that if not prepared and designed properly, wind energy can have negative environmental impacts. This is why it is important to do a so-called Environmental Impact Assessment. As we purchase credits from projects certified by Gold Standard, there has been a rigorous control of the risks as all projects have to comply with the “Safeguarding Principles and Requirements” . This covers human rights, gender issues, corruption, water and land use, and other potential impacts. Another important part of the project preparation is the stakeholder consultation, which is also documented in Project Design Document. 

For this project in particular, it is described in the Project Design Document that ”…some trees will be cut in order to enlarge the road to the site and to clear the surroundings of the turbines. However; it was assured that new plantation will be done in return by local Forestry Management”. Other issues addressed in the preparation phase was the concern for bird migration in the area, and potential impact from waste and water usage during the construction phase. Having this information available is mandatory, and is how we know we can trust the project. It allows for accountability, so that we can hold the project developer responsible for the impacts and mitigation measures. 

More information about this project in the Gold Standard registry (including verification and monitoring reports) HERE

See our retired credits HERE, HERE and HERE

More than 500 shared their thoughts on climate offsetting and GoClimate

GoClimate’s first customer survey was conducted in March 2019 and answered by more than 500 people who use the service on a regular basis. With so many positive responses, we feel super happy to have been able to create a service that enables both individuals and companies to climate offset their carbon footprint and contribute to stopping climate change together.

Climate offsetting through GoClimate was described as easy (enkelt), good (bra) and reliable (seriöst). It should not be difficult to work for a better world.

What’s your attitude towards your individual carbon footprint?

Almost 90% of the English survey’s respondents who climate offset through GoClimate are actively trying to lower their carbon footprints. A bit over 5% of the respondents do not actively try to reduce their carbon footprints and around 4% wants to reduce but do not know how – this is something we are working on to get better at!

How did you find out about GoClimate?

Nearly 30% of the respondents that carbon offset through GoClimate have come in contact with us through recommendations. To reach even more people and better save the climate, we truly hope that you will continue to discuss and share all possible climate actions with your friends and familiy!

Find more results from the English survey here and the Swedish survey here!