Climate Policy Hill Briefing on International Offsets

Briefing on International Offsets in a U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Cap-and-Trade System
April 24, 2009

The Pew Center held a Congressional briefing on the role and function of international offsets in a mandatory GHG cap-and-trade system. Given the importance of offsets as a cost-containment measure in cap-and-trade system design, the intent of this briefing was to show that international offsets can be a viable and reliable way of acheiving low-cost GHG emissions reductions.    

Video  Watch the video and accompanying slides presented by each speaker listed below.

  • Janet Peace, Vice President for Markets and Business Strategy, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    Presentation:     Slides (pdf)         Windows Media


  • Christiana Figueres, Principal Climate Change Advisor to ENDESA Latinoamérica, the largest private utility in Latin America, and former representative to the CDM Executive Board
    Presentation:     Slides (pdf)          Windows Media


  • Graeme Martin, Manager of Business Development, Environmental Products, Shell Energy North America
    Presentation:     Slides (pdf)          Windows Media


  • Eric Haxthausen, Director of U.S. Climate Change Policy, The Nature Conservancy
    Presentation:     Slides (pdf)          Windows Media


  • Dirk Forrister, Managing Director, Advisory and Research Service, Natsource
    Presentation:     Slides (pdf)         Windows Media



 Briefing Highlights

  • Offsets can significantly reduce the costs of a cap-and-trade program, deliver a price signal throughout the economy, and stimulate technological innovation in sectors not covered by the cap.
  • International offsets are particularly advantageous because there are numerous low-cost mitigation opportunities in developing countries. Further, by engaging developing countries, international offsets can foster the development of a global carbon market through a common price signal.
  • The existing process for certifying international offsets under the Kyoto Protocol has been alternately criticized as being overly and insufficiently stringent. While the process, known as the clean development mechanism, is not perfect, it has improved over time and has led to important benefits, including cost containment and technology diffusion.
  • Deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and forest carbon credits (both international and domestic) can be employed to promote preservation and restoration of forest land.


Related Materials

Briefing and video on the use of domestic offsets in a U.S. cap-and-trade program

Brief on Offsets in a Domestic Cap and Trade Program

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-This series was made possible through a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, but the opinions expressed herein are solely those of the presenters.-