Road-Testing of Selected Offset Protocols and Standards; A Comparison of Offset Protocols: Landfills, Manure, and Afforestation/Reforestation

SEI Working Paper WP-US-1001

Author(s): Lazarus, M. ; Lee, C.M. ; Smith, G. ; Todd, K. ; Weitz, M.
Year: 2010

Protocols are the foundation of an offset program. By defining eligibility requirements and the quantification of the quantity of offsets generated, protocols will drive the development of emission reduction and sequestration projects. By assuring quality standards for offsets, protocols are also central to the credibility of offset markets.

This report examines U.S. EPA Climate Leaders' protocols for landfill methane, manure digesters, and afforestation project types, comparing them with the current versions of protocols developed for four other offset programs: the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), California Climate Action Registry (CCAR), and Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).

We road tested these protocols for two sample projects for each of three project types to reveal differences in amounts of offsets counted under the different protocols. These differences in offset counts arise from differences in accounting boundary definitions, baseline setting methods, measurement rules, emission factors, and discounts.

Overall, the quantitative road test results underscore the importance of standardizing protocols so that at least across offset programs, and for a given project type, "a ton is a ton". Currently, as this road test illustrates, this is not quite the case project protocol and all of CCX's project protocols), modifications to some of the sample projects, and clarifications based on reviewer comments.

Note: This paper was last updated in April 2010. An earlier version was published as SEI Working Paper WP-US-0904. For a copy of the paper, email Carrie Lee at carrie.lee[at]

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