Making the right choices.

With the technical detail involved in designing a project and measuring and verifying its impact, it can be difficult to understand the nuanced but important differences among standards that issue carbon credits. This is particularly important if you’re interested in ensuring that your contribution – your money, to put it simply – delivers as much as it can.

Gold Standard projects deliver the greatest impact and place a high value on certainty of outcomes and credibility of claims.
Gold Standard is an Associate Member of ISEAL, which sets the standard for these processes and principles, including transparency, impartiality, stakeholder engagement, grievance management, and efficiency as well collaboration with other standards for exponential impact. 

Standards vary in if or how they feature these quality measures. For example, in some standards, safeguards are optional, not mandatory. So it’s best to understand your priorities and ask some key questions before making your choice in carbon credits.

Gold Standard mantra is “making good better.” This means that we commit to continue pioneering in climate protection to ensure the most stringent safeguards and the greatest impact delivered for every dollar channeled to projects.

Even organisations that are focused solely on climate impact – or prioritise lowest cost – should take care to ensure that their credits are from a reputable source.

Do the carbon credits represent the minimum integrity related to climate impact?
Be sure the carbon credits have these attributes to ensure integrity of their climate impact:


Projects follow internationally recognised standard requirements for best practices and are certified against those standards.



Emission reductions are based on an accurate baseline and have been credibly quantified.



Emission reductions would not have happened without the project activity.



Project activities and impact data are verified by independent third party auditors.



Carbon credits are not counted or claimed by another party.



All project impacts, including the carbon credits themselves, are tracked transparently in a public registry.


Many people interested in offsetting are motivated by specific benefits that are important to them, like gender equality, poverty reduction or access to clean water. Others seek to support projects in certain geographies. 

To ensure all sustainable development claims beyond climate impact are credible, ask:

  • Does the project deliver multiple sustainable development benefits?
  • Are those benefits monitored and independently verified?
  • Has the project been designed in a gender sensitive way?

PRO TIP Even if you see an SDG icon on marketing material, ask to see monitoring and verification reports for those impacts.


Credible standards provide quality, independently verified assessments of the emission reductions produced by a project, ie, its climate impact. The Gold Standard goes further and ensures that all its projects meet robust and stringent methodology requirements for sustainable development in the local area. 


It’s mandatory (not optional) for ALL Gold Standard projects to follow ALL relevant environmental and safeguarding principles in order to
be certified. 


This includes local stakeholder consultations and access to a grievance mechanism in case there are issues with the projects.


All Gold Standard for the Global Goals projects must follow Gender-sensitive design principles, which is unique to Gold Standard.


Higher-risk project types like fossil fuel switch or large hydro are not eligible for Gold Standard certification.


All Gold Standard projects must deliver impact toward a minimum of 3 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including climate. These SDG benefits vary according to project type and are verified by an independent third party.

Different projects provide different benefits. For example, a large-scale wind project provides more country level benefits such as better access to clean technologies, local employment opportunities, more energy independence and increased social stability. An improved cookstove project, on the other hand, benefits people at a community level by decreasing indoor air pollution, improving health (predominantly among women and children).

Less wood is required helping to decrease deforestation and saving families money, and less time is needed for collecting wood, providing more opportunities for schooling and social activities. 

Following are examples of common climate protection projects, the different development benefits they deliver, and the tangible economic value created by these benefits.  

NOTE:  $ values are given in 2017 USD