On July 24, 2009, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) released a discussion paper titled Offset Definition and Eligibility Criteria, which will be available for public comment until August 21, 2009. In the paper, the WCI asks how it should determine whether GHG emissions reductions are eligible for offset credits and thus compatible with the cap-and-trade system the WCI plans to implement by January 1, 2012. Among the eligibility criteria discussed, the requirement for additionality features prominently; the paper solicits feedback on how the WCI should assess whether emission reductions are additional to any GHG emission reductions that would otherwise occur as a result of business-as-usual activities or regulatory requirements. The paper proposes the following: a project-specific test, which would scrutinize the circumstances of an individual project to ensure that it would not have occurred in the absence of the offset market; a performance-standard approach, which would determine, through an initial study of a sector or project type, what level of performance is necessary to ensure that projects meeting or exceeding the standard are additional; a protocol-specific approach, in which the additionality assessment may vary by offset project type; or a hybrid of these options.

The outcome of these consultations will influence Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and several U.S. states, all WCI partners that are currently working to implement the WCI’s cap-and-trade and offset systems in their respective jurisdictions. The consultations will also interest the Canadian federal government, which recently released guidance on its developing offset system.

For further information, please see www.westernclimateinitiative.org/news-and-updates/59-offsetdefinition-and-eligibility-criteria-white-paper-available-for-comment-724-821-.