In partnership with faculty, students, and administrators, Columbia has developed a set of criteria to guide the University’s future purchase of carbon offsets to neutralize emissions that cannot be reduced and eliminated. Using the campus as a living lab, one of the Earth Institute's capstone courses examined this as part of their coursework.
The below offset standards serve as guidance for choosing offset projects that:
- Are high-quality offsets, and
- Align with Columbia’s sustainability mission and environmental justice principles
The offsets must:
- Have been vetted and verified by a third-party entity
- Be proven to result in no negative externalities
- Result in the permanent, quantified and veritable sequestration of carbon with no leakage
- Result in additional carbon reduction or sequestering
- Align with local environmental justice principles
Ideally, the offsets should:
- Be local, in and around the New York area
- Local projects are desirable because they provide co-benefits to Columbia’s immediate surroundings and community. However, international projects can provide co-benefits such as clean water and air to the most vulnerable communities worldwide. A combination of local and international projects may thus be explored with recognition that monitoring to ensure no adverse environmental or cultural impacts is especially important and challenging.
- Offer some social, environmental, and economic co-benefits to the local community