Review of carbon emissions offsetting guidelines using instructional criteria

Olli Helppi, Esko Salo (Corresponding Author), Saija Vatanen, Tiina Pajula, Kaisa Grönman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Carbon offsetting is one of the tools that companies can use to achieve their climate targets. The ability of a company to offset its emissions successfully depends on the availability and quality of guidance on the subject. This study explores how well existing offsetting guidelines equip corporations to achieve successful emissions offsetting.

Instructional criteria were developed and used to evaluate seven guidelines. The contents of each guideline were assessed based on how they instruct a company to achieve emissions offsetting that fulfills five criteria for appropriate offsetting: target affiliation, Paris compatibility, effectiveness, prioritizing removals, and transparency.

Results and discussion
The review revealed that necessary instructions enabling appropriate emissions offsetting were absent in the guidelines. Moreover, the degree of climate ambition and the role of offsetting varied between guidelines. Deficiencies in emissions offsetting guidance may increase the uncertainty of companies’ succeeding in offsetting their emissions.

Developing guidance on emissions offsetting could benefit society and corporations by increasing the certainty of achieving successful emissions offsetting. Standardizing corporate emissions offsetting could be considered as one solution for unifying the practice. The practical life-cycle implications of current ambiguity in guidelines are a direction for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-932
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • offsetting
  • carbon credits
  • carbon neutrality
  • net zero
  • climate targets
  • guidelines
  • Carbon neutrality
  • Climate targets
  • Net zero
  • Offsetting
  • Carbon credits
  • Guidelines


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