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  • Writer's pictureReuben Joseph


Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Additionality Explained
Exploring the Vital Role of 'Additionality' in Carbon Credits and Offset Programs

Have you ever heard of the term "additionality" in relation to carbon credits and carbon offsetting? It may sound like a complicated concept, but it's actually quite important in ensuring the effectiveness of these programs

What is Additionality?

Essentially, additionality refers to the idea that the reductions achieved by a project need to be "additional" to what would have happened if the project had not existed. In other words, the project should only exist because of the funding it receives from carbon credits. This ensures that the project is actually reducing emissions that wouldn't have been reduced otherwise.

Image source : Cambridge Centre for carbon credits
Additionality explained for carbon credits

To determine additionality, there are two main approaches: project-specific and standardised. Project-specific approaches rely on analysing the individual characteristics of a project to determine if it is additional, while standardised approaches evaluate projects against pre-determined eligibility criteria.

Both approaches have their pros and cons, but they are both crucial in ensuring the environmental integrity of carbon offsets and their impact on climate. Without additionality, there is a risk that projects may be claiming to reduce emissions that would have been reduced anyway, which undermines the effectiveness of these programs.

It's important to note that additionality is not a perfect science and involves some level of subjectivity and uncertainty. However, there are certain barriers and guidelines that can be used to assess additionality and ensure that only high-quality carbon offsets are being used.

Additionality in Action: The 10 Core Carbon Principles

Additionality is a key principle in the 10 Core Carbon Principles, ensuring high-integrity carbon offsets as stated by the Integrity council for the voluntary carbon markets (see image below). It states that emissions reductions must be additional, incentivised by carbon credit revenues. This principle maintains program credibility and promotes genuine emissions reductions.

core values for GHG reductions
Additionality explained as a core principle


Some more Additional aspects of Additionality :

What is the Concept of Additionality?

The concept of additionality ensures that carbon offset projects create real-world reductions in emissions that wouldn't have happened otherwise, making a positive impact on climate.

How Do You Determine Additionality?

Additionality is determined through project-specific analysis or standardised eligibility criteria, depending on the approach chosen. This evaluation is essential for assessing the permeance of carbon offsets in addressing climate change effects.

Why Is Additionality So Important?

Additionality is vital for the effectiveness, trustworthiness, and transparency of carbon offset programs, ensuring they make a real difference in combating climate change and reducing CO2 footprints and carbon footprints.

In conclusion, additionality is a critical concept in the world of carbon offsets, helping to secure a sustainable future by reducing CO2 footprints and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. As we continue our journey to address climate change, understanding and promoting additionality will be key to our success.

Stay tuned for more in-depth discussions on additionality and other climate-related topics as we work towards increasing trust and transparency in the voluntary carbon markets.


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