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Oxford Principles for Net Zero-Aligned Carbon Offsetting

“Many countries and “non-state actors”, such as cities, regions, companies, organisations and financial institutions, are pledging to achieve net zero emissions. While some actors can feasibly eliminate all of their emissions to reach “absolute zero”, some actors will have residual emissions. For example, emissions from biological processes in agriculture, some industrial processes, and fossil fuel combustion for aviation will likely be difficult to eliminate fully by 2050. A number of actors therefore include “carbon offsets” within their climate strategy. These are purchased credits representing a certified unit of emission reduction or carbon removal carried out by another actor. A number of critically important questions emerge for the users of offsets. How can offsetting be made a credible means of achieving net zero? What types of offsets should be used and when? How can actors purchasing offsets, and stakeholders holding them accountable, avoid the risk of greenwashing? How can users catalyse the cost-effective supply of the right kind of offsets at scale? The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting are designed to help clarify these questions, particularly for non-state actors who want to design and deliver rigorous voluntary net zero commitments and develop high quality carbon markets. We urge offset buyers to adopt and integrate the Oxford Offsetting Principles into their activities. We also encourage regulators and standard setters to reflect them in the design of offsetting systems and net zero standards. Observing these Principles will help ensure that users avoid buying low-quality offsets and that their decarbonisation plans are compatible with achieving net zero.”