What is the life cycle of
a carbon offset project? 

What is the life cycle of a carbon offset project? 


Project planning phase (1-3)  

A carbon offset project has a defined life cycle. In the first two steps, the project developer reviews the general feasibility of the project, the project design and the financing. Then, the so-called Project Design Document (PDD) is prepared, which contains all the basic information about the project, such as the project objective, the location, when the project is to be implemented, and the project duration. 

Validation (4)  

In the next step, the PDD and the information it contains are validated through independent audits. These accredited, neutral auditors must be approved by the standard’s registry as a Validation and Verification Body (VVB). Examples include TÜV North/South, S&A Carbon LLC. or SCS Global Services.  

Registration (5)  

After successful validation, the project can be registered with the standard, such as the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard.  

More information about project standards.

Monitoring (6)  

After the project has been registered, the monitoring phase begins. Here, the project developers monitor and document the data of the project activities and progress. The duration of the monitoring phase varies from project to project, it can cover two years, but documentation over five or seven years is also possible. 

Verification (7) 

At the end of each monitoring phase, a VVB checks and assesses whether the values and project activities stated in the monitoring report are correct and verifies them. 

Issuance of CO2 certificates (8)  

The emission reductions verified in the verification (7) can be issued as CO2 certificates after successful verification. 

The steps of monitoring, project verification and issuance of CO2 certificates are repeated regularly and are thus to be considered as a cycle. 

Retirement of CO2 certificates (9)  

Once a certificate has been sold, it must be retired. This process is also stored in registers. When an offset is booked through ClimatePartner, the registry retirement is done via TÜV Austria approved tools. The retirement in the registry ensures that each certificate can only be used once, as it cannot be sold afterwards, thus preventing double counting.