Climate Action Reserve

Currently active program (as of 1/2011).

Market Size and Scope
Offset Project Eligibility
Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies
Project Approval Process


Type of Standard and Context

ClimateActionreserveLogoThe Climate Action Reserve (formerly the California Climate Action Registry, see below) was launched in 2008. It is a national offsets program focused on the US carbon market.

The Climate Action Reserve (Reserve) establishes standards for quantifying and verifying GHG emissions reduction projects, provides oversight to independent third-party verification bodies, and issues and tracks carbon credits called Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs pronounced ‘carrots’).

As of January 2011, the Reserve has adopted 11 performance-based project protocols defining the eligibility criteria and reduction quantification guidelines for carbon offset projects (see Project Types below). The Climate Action Reserve Program Manual can be found here.

CCAR logoThe California Climate Action Registry (California Registry) is the predecessor organization and legacy program of the Climate Action Reserve.  It is a voluntary GHG registry established by the California State Legislature in 2001 to encourage and promote early actions to measure, manage and reduce GHG emissions. To support this goal, the California Registry developed a general reporting protocol, general verification protocol, and a number of sector-specific reporting protocols to enable its members to voluntarily calculate and report entity-wide GHG emissions. The California Registry also produced a series of standardized, performance-based, project-specific protocols and accompanying verification protocols to quantify the emission reductions from GHG mitigation projects. For example, the first set of project protocols for quantifying and verifying forestry projects was launched in 2005 and these protocols were subsequently adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2007, which recognized the resulting emission reductions as early voluntary actions under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB-32). This act established a program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable and cost-effective reductions in GHGs.

Climate RegistryIn 2007, CCAR worked with other regional non-governmental organizations to build and launch the Climate Registry, a voluntary GHG registry for the North American region covering states in the US, Native Sovereign Nations, Canada and Mexico. The last year for which the California Registry will accept emissions reports is 2009 and, thereafter, its members will transition to The Climate Registry.



Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies

The Climate Action Reserve is administered by employed staff with overall direction from a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from state government, business, environmental organizations, academia and others.

The Reserve’s operations are funded by account holder fees, CRT issuance and transfer fees, grants and sponsorships.

Regional Scope

The Reserve provides services to companies and project developers in the US and Mexico.  Discussions are underway for further expansion throughout North America.

Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems

The Reserve’s GHG emission reduction program, including its project-specific protocols and its verifier accreditation and oversight program, has been approved under the Verified Carbon Standard (see VCS 2007). CRTs issued by the Reserve can be converted into VCUs and transferred to a VCS registry. Though, VCUs cannot be converted into CRTs.

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Market Size and Scope

Tradable Unit and Pricing Information

Projects that achieve verified emission reductions are issued with a serialized Climate Reserve Tonne (CRT, pronounced "carrot") per metric ton of CO2e emissions reduced or permanently sequestered.  Over ten million CRTs have been issued and are available for trading, though many projects also sell their CRTs into the future before issuance.


Climate Action Reserve account holders represent a variety of sectors, including environment, finance and business.  Individuals, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and businesses may hold an account in the Reserve.  Participating account holders, including project developers, traders and brokers, and retailers are located throughout the US and internationally.

Current Project Portfolio

As of January 2011, the Reserve had issued 10.4 million credits. It included 271 total GHG emissions offset projects, including 77 registered (completed verification) and 194 listed (accepted by the Reserve as eligible).  Go here for an updated list of projects and their status.

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Offset Project Eligibility

Project Types

As of January 2011, the Reserve has adopted 11 performance-based project protocols defining the eligibility criteria and reduction quantification guidelines for carbon offset projects: Forest (includes avoided conversion, improved forest management and reforestation); U.S. Livestock, U.S. Landfill, Urban Forest, Mexico Livestock, Mexico Landfill, Coal Mine Methane (under revision), Nitric Acid Production, Organic Waste Composting, Organic Waste Digestion and Ozone Depleting Substances. Other protocol project types are in progress (as of 1/2011): Agriculture, Cropland Mangement, Mexico Forest, Nutrient Management and Rice Cultivation. Check here for the latest list of adopted protocol project types.

Project Locations

Projects may be located anywhere in the U.S.and U.S. territories. For some project types, protocols have also been adapted for Mexico.

Project Size

At present, there are no limitations on project size in any sector.

Start Date 

Specific start date requirements for each project type are included in the specific protocol. For any new protocols, for a period of 12 months following protocol adoption the Reserve will accept projects for listing with start dates that are no more than 24 months earlier than the date of protocol adoption. After the 12-month period after protocol adoption, the Reserve will accept projects with start dates no more than 6 months prior to the date submitted to the Reserve. Updated versions of the Reserve protocols are not necessarily considered "new" protocols. Other restrictions apply for projects that have already been listed or registered under a GHG registry or program and are applying to transfer to the Reserve.

Crediting Period

Crediting periods are defined by project type in each protocol. For most non-sequestration projects there is a 10-year crediting period that can be renewed for a maximum of two 10-yr crediting periods. For sequestration projects, the crediting period may be up to 100 years.

Co-benefit Objectives and Requirements

The Reserve requires that project developers must attest that the project is in compliance with all applicable laws, including environmental regualtions. It is Reserve policy that GHG projects must not create negative environmental externalities and that projects should result in environmental co-benefits whenever possible. Additional requirements are specified in protocols.

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Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies

Additionality Requirements

Projects that are required by law or regulation are excluded. The Reserve applies a standardized approach to determining additionality, where performance standards and other conditions or criteria that projects must meet in order to be considered additional are determined by the Reserve. These standards and criteria are established separately for each project type, and are designed to exclude non-additional (or “business as usual”) projects from eligibility.

Project Methodologies

The Climate Action Reserve has developed standardized approaches to quantification of project methodologies including standard baseline assumptions, emission factors and monitoring methods.

The Reserve requires that all reversals of GHG reductions from projects be compensated, specific details are specifed in protocols.

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Project Approval Process

Validation and Registration

There is no required validation process for developers seeking to use the Reserve’s protocols.  Project Developers must complete and upload the appropriate project submittal forms for the project type and pay a project submittale fee to the Reserve. Once a project is submitted, it must be registered within 30 months. A project becomes registered after it is verified for the first time and accepted by the Reserve.

Monitoring, Verification and Certification

The Reserve requires third-party verification of all projects. A verifier must be employed by or subcontracted to an accredited verification body and be properly trained to verify projects of the appropriate type. Not all verifiers are approved to verify all project types. Similarly, the verification body itself must be accredited and eligible to conduct verifications for specific project types. As of Jan. 1, 2011 the Reserve requires that all verification bodies be accredited under ISO 14065 and have sector-specific accreditation for the applicable project type. Individual verifiers must also successfully complete training and testing by the Reserve on specific protocols. ,

Once the verification body completes the verification, the project developer reviews the verification body’s documents and then formally submits the project to the Reserve for final approval of the verification. The Reserve reviews the submission for completeness, reviews the verification materials, and either approves the verification or requests a re-submittal of one or more components. Upon approval, the project developer receives an invoice for the issuance of CRTs generated by the project.

Registries and Fees

Project developers, brokers, traders, retailers or members of the public may open an account with the Climate Action Reserve at any time. The annual account maintenance fee is USD 500 (this fee is waived for verification bodies).

Project developers may register a project by opening an account and paying a USD 500 project submittal fee. The Climate Action Reserve charges an issuance fee of USD 0.20 per metric ton of CO2e and a transfer fee of USD 0.03 per metric ton of CO2e paid by the seller. There is no charge for retirement of CRTs.

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