Emissions reduction

Voluntary Carbon Markets and Offsetting

By the UK Climate Change Committee
October 2022

In October 2022, the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) published a report exploring the role of voluntary carbon offsetting in achieving the UK’s net-zero emissions target by 2050. The report provides recommendations for government, industry, and individuals on how to ensure that voluntary offsetting is transparent, credible, and effective.

The report begins by outlining the history and development of voluntary carbon markets, which allow companies and individuals to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits from projects that reduce or remove emissions elsewhere. The report notes that voluntary offsetting has faced criticism for being poorly regulated, with some projects failing to deliver the promised emissions reductions, or even leading to negative environmental and social impacts.

To address these concerns, the report recommends that the UK government should establish a regulatory framework for voluntary offsetting that ensures transparency, additionality, and environmental integrity. The report also recommends that the government should set standards for project selection and monitoring, and ensure that carbon credits are retired only once they have been verified by an accredited third party.

In addition to the government’s role in regulating and promoting voluntary offsetting, the report also recommends actions that companies and individuals can take to ensure that their offsetting is effective: the report notes that companies should focus on reducing their own emissions first, and only use offsetting as a last resort. When purchasing offsets, companies should prioritise high-quality projects that deliver additional emissions reductions beyond business-as-usual scenarios, and should engage in due diligence to ensure that the projects have robust monitoring and verification systems in place.


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