Columbia will utilize strategic offsets in accordance with the carbon hierarchy.
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