How to buy carbon credits to offset your footprint

Comprar créditos de carbono

Looking to buy carbon credits to offset your carbon footprint, but unsure how to do so? In this article, we guide you through the process of purchasing carbon credits.

As the world moves towards Net Zero, more and more companies are offsetting their carbon footprint, by contributing financially to sustainable projects around the world. But how exactly does offsetting work, and what are your options when looking to purchase carbon offsets?

What is carbon offsetting through buying carbon credits?

Carbon offsetting is the process of purchasing carbon credits on the carbon market generated by CO2 absorption projects, to make up for a company or person’s emissions. First, it requires calculating the carbon footprint of your company. Let’s say a company has emitted 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) in a given year: to offset this footprint, it will need to buy 1,000 carbon credits, each representing 1 ton of CO2-equivalent. This accounting system is a relatively simple way to ensure that the world doesn’t emit more than it can absorb, as well as providing much needed financing to carbon mitigation projects.

Once you know what your carbon footprint is, and after you have taken measures such as switching to renewable energy or cutting electricity consumption to reduce it, it is time to offset the remaining carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits. What are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ carbon credits?

Different ways to buy carbon credits

There are several ways to buy carbon credits to offset your footprint.

Buy carbon credits directly from developers

The most direct way to purchase them is at the source: from the organization responsible for the project you want to support. In this case, your company can either invest in the development of the project with a promise of return in the form of future carbon credits, or buy what are called Emission Reduction Purchase Agreements (ERPAs), upfront payment for carbon credits to be delivered as and when they are generated. This latter option is more common when the project is already at a later stage of development.

There are two main advantages to buying your carbon credits directly from the project developer: 

  • it allows you gain a deep understanding of the project and get involved in its management
  • you can secure lower prices than with a reseller

But this option is not for everyone:

  • it requires a certain amount of research and knowledge to identify and engage with suitable projects
  • the carbon credits are not immediately available as you purchase them

Purchase carbon credits through a broker

Many project developers work with brokers to arrange the sale of their carbon credits. In this case, your company would get in touch with a broker and give them specifics about the type of project you’re looking for (location, price, etc.). The broker would find a project that suits you, then purchase carbon credits on your behalf and resell them to you with a mark-up.

This option can seem more practical than dealing directly with a project, particularly if you need a lot of carbon offsets: as a service provider, the broker handles all transactions.

But there are some significant downsides to take into account:

  • brokers rarely disclose their pricing structures, so you have no clarity on the price of the carbon credit vs the broker fee
  • in some cases, brokers charge companies almost three times as much as they pay project developers, abusing their power as the middleman and defeating the purpose of climate finance

The Financial Times recently exposed just how opaque carbon credit brokers’ practices can be. This is not an option we recommend.

Buy carbon credits on the ClimateTrade marketplace

The ClimateTrade marketplace combines the positive impact of buying carbon credits directly from the developer with the practicality of using a broker. On our user-friendly platform, you can browse more than 140 certified projects categorized by type, country, and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and choose the carbon offsets most suited to your objectives.  

Our climate marketplace is accessible to all individuals and companies who want to take action against climate change by supporting sustainable and certified projects. It’s easy to get started following simple steps:

  • Visit our marketplace
  • Choose from a variety of projects, including reforestation, protecting biodiversity, removing trash from oceans, and supporting communities. Find a project that aligns with your values and goals.
  • Choose the units, tons, or MWh that match your own carbon footprint, or specify the amount you wish to contribute.
  • Complete your transaction, and you will receive a customized certificate with details of your offset. The project will receive the funds, and you can rest assured that you’ve taken a step toward reducing your impact on the environment.
  • Automatically receive your traceable carbon offsetting certificate

Let your clients offset your carbon footprint

ClimateTrade also offers an API and Widget that can be easily integrated into your own payment system, letting your clients offset the carbon footprint of your products and services as they make their purchases. 

Check out our API and Widget and make your offering carbon-neutral now.

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