Markets working to support sustainable development

Climate Action Reserve Protocols

The Climate Action Reserve is a programme that seeks to ensure the environmental integrity of GHG emissions reduction projects as well as create and support financial and environmental value in the U.S. carbon market. It does this by establishing standards for quantifying and verifying GHG emissions reduction projects, overseeing independent third party verification bodies, issuing carbon credits generated from such projects and tracking the credits over time on a transparent, publicly-accessible system. 

As part of the standards, The Climate Action Reserve’s GHG emissions reduction project protocols provide regulatory-quality guidelines for project development and the quantification of carbon offset credits, known as Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRT). They are developed through a process that involves participation from stakeholders from a variety of sectors, including: industry, government, science, academic, public and environment. 

Currently (April 2014), there are fourteen adopted protocols - these are: 

  • Coal Mine Methane
  • Forest
  • Mexico Forest
  • Mexico Landfill
  • Mexico Livestock
  • Nitric Acid Production
  • Nitrogen Management
  • Organic Waste Composting 
  • Organic Waste Digestio
  • Ozone Depleting Substances
  • Rice Cultivation
  • Urban Forests
  • U.S Landfill
  • U.S. Livestock

In addition, they are also in the process of establishing another protocol - Soil Carbon. 

To qualify for the Climate Action Reserve’s standard, projects must undergo a process of verification. As part of this, the key objectives are:

  • Ensure projects are real, additional, permanent, verifiable and enforceable
  • Minimize the risk of invalid creation or double counting of Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs)
  • Support the transparency and integrity of the data contained within Reserve
  • Maintain consistency and comparability across projects
  • Monitor the project developer’s on-going compliance with the Reserve’s protocols

Furthermore, the Climate Action Reserve only registers projects that have been independently verified as adhering to its project protocols. It also assigns unique serial numbers to all generated carbon credits. This prevents the possibility of double counting and assures buyers that when a CRT has been retired, it cannot be sold or transferred again and has created a real and permanent offset. All project information is made publicly available through the Climate Action Reserve system.



Market coverage: 
  • According to the Climate Action Reserve, the market price for CRTs ranks in the top tier among carbon credit, which are traded in the voluntary carbon market or transfered into the Voluntary Carbon Standard's unit of measurement, the Voluntary Carbon Unit (VCU). 
  • The 2013 Annual Report details that: there are 465 projects certified by the Climate Action Reserve in USA and Mexico that have issued 43,485,659 CRTs. 
  • In 2012 CRT’s represented 10% of the over-the-counter voluntary carbon market, down from 31% in 2009.
Background information: 

The Climate Action Reserve serves to register carbon offsets and operates alongside the California Climate Action Registry. This was formed in 2001 by the State of California, however owing to its growth there was the recognition that a similar initiative was needed to cover projects outside of California. The Climate Action Reserve has now expanded to include projects from throughout the US, as well as Mexico.

Funding source: 

According to the 2013 Annual Report, the Climate Action Reserve gains revenue from different sources, including:

  • Conference 19%
  • Contracts 1%
  • Reserve Fees 63%
  • Workshop Income 1%
  • Grants/Contributions 4%
  • In-Kind/Miscellaneous/Interest 11%