The 6 Best Carbon Offset Programs of 2020

Choose a program that's transparent about its carbon offset projects

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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Carbon offset programs let individuals and businesses offset their environmental footprint by paying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. While this may sound complicated, the programs on our list make it easy by offering user-friendly calculators and seamless online transactions. Plus, these platforms connect users with important projects like reforestation efforts and renewable energy development in communities across the planet.

With less reputable programs, there is a possibility that offset funds won’t go to an actual offset project. To protect customers, the best carbon offset programs only work with projects that are certified by third-party organizations. Therefore, our list only includes programs that are transparent about supporting certified carbon offset projects.

The 6 Best Carbon Offset Programs in 2020

Best Overall: NativeEnergy

NativeEnergy

NativeEnergy

NativeEnergy, our best overall pick, is a public benefit corporation that offers carbon offset programs for individuals and businesses. The platform lets you easily calculate the carbon footprint of your home, travel, business, and events.

You can then buy offsets as a one-time purchase or as a monthly, quarterly, or annual offset; if multiple projects are in progress, you can choose — otherwise, you’ll be able to select the project that is currently underway. Projects vary but generally cover emissions reduction and reforestation — you’ll see exactly which project your money will support when you pay for your offset. 

In addition to being extremely user-friendly, NativeEnergy uses extensive criteria to evaluate offset projects. Each project is ultimately certified by one of several third-party organizations, including Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, Plan Vivo, Climate, and Community & Biodiversity Alliance.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: NativeEnergy is our best overall carbon offset program because of its comprehensive calculators, verified carbon offset projects, and the ability to purchase offsets on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

Best Air Travel: Sustainable Travel International (STI)

Sustainable Air Travel

Sustainable Air Travel

Though many carbon offset programs offer air travel offsets, Sustainable Travel International (STI) specializes in conscious business, responsible travel, and community engagement. Because of that, STI’s carbon offset program is dialed into the sustainable travel industry and is dedicated to helping individuals fund certified carbon offset programs.

To offset the carbon footprint of a flight, enter information about how many people are traveling, how far you’re traveling, and whether you’re flying economy or premium. The calculator then generates the total carbon footprint of the flight and shows how much it will cost to offset that footprint. Then, it’s as easy as entering your contact information and credit card number.

As with NativeEnergy — and other programs on our list — STI only funds carbon offset projects that are certified by third-party organizations, including but not limited to Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, and Plan Vivo. Since 2007, STI has helped individuals and businesses offset almost 380,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: Sustainable Travel International is our choice for air travel because of the company’s extensive expertise in the sustainable travel industry and commitment to certified offset projects.

Best Events: TerraPass

TerraPass

TerraPass

Large events are notorious for having an equally large carbon footprint — think everything from transportation to the event, the venue itself, and the large potential for food waste. TerraPass offers a robust, easy-to-use carbon calculator that can help you better understand and offset the carbon footprint of each event you host.

To use the TerraPass event calculator, enter information about travel to the event, number of attendees, hotel accommodations, the venue, and types and number of meals. As you add details about your event, the carbon dashboard will show the carbon footprint of your event in pounds or metric tons as well as the cost of the offset — starting at about $5 per 1,000 pounds of carbon offset.

TerraPass will also email you a full report of your event’s carbon footprint. Plus, all of the carbon offset funds go to projects that are certified by the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, the Climate Action Reserve, or the American Carbon Registry.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: We love that, in addition to purchasing carbon offsets to reduce greenhouse gases, you can buy renewable energy credits that support clean energy and water restoration certificates that help restore freshwater ecosystems.

Best Commute: Clear

Clear

Clear

Like many of the best carbon offset programs, Clear offers offsets for individuals and businesses. However, Clear goes a step further by breaking down offset areas into very specific categories. You can easily calculate the footprint of your home, car, motorcycle, internet, and more — but our favorite is the commute calculator.

To calculate and offset the carbon footprint of your commute, use the commute calculator and enter information about how you get to work, how far you travel, and how many days you commute each year. Clear then calculates how much it will cost to offset those miles. For example, if you travel 10 miles per day on a local bus for a total of 220 days a year, Clear lets you offset the resulting 0.92 tons of CO2 emissions for about $12.25.

These carbon offsets then go to support Quality Assurance Standard (QAS) certified projects like improving the efficiency of cookstoves and developing hydroelectric plants, wastewater treatment plants, and sources of clean energy.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: We love Clear because of how easy its calculators make it to visualize — and offset — the impact of daily activities like your commute.

Best Home: myclimate

myclimate

myclimate

Myclimate is our top pick for offsetting the carbon footprint of your home and lets users calculate the footprint of their household, cars, events, and travel-related activities. In addition to offering a ton of specific offsets — as well as project-specific donations — the platform’s household calculator is extremely user-friendly. You can also use myclimate to calculate and offset your total personal footprint, including transport, travel, food, shopping habits, energy consumption, and other factors.

To calculate the carbon footprint of your home, provide details about the house’s size, heating methods, and power consumption. The myclimate calculator then calculates your CO2 emissions and provides a cost to offset that across several international sustainable developments. Alternatively, users can choose to send their offsets to a specific region — though, depending on the project, this may be more expensive.

Like the other carbon offset programs on our list, myclimate only supports carbon offset projects that are independently certified by the Clean Development Mechanism, Gold Standard, or Plan Vivo.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: Beyond myclimate’s user-friendly tools for calculating your home’s footprint, we also love that you can choose types of projects to support with your offsets.

Best Corporate: 3Degrees

3degrees

3degrees

3Degrees is a Certified B Corporation with a robust offering of business sustainability services. In addition to providing energy and climate consulting services, 3Degrees helps business owners purchase and sell carbon offsets. You can also work with 3Degrees to purchase Green-e® Climate certified carbon offsets that earn points for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Carbon offset projects focus on carbon reduction and carbon removal and include everything from sustainable forestry to livestock manure management, landfill gas, and industrial processes. While projects supported by 3Degrees vary, they must all meet extensive criteria and are third-party verified by Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, Gold Standard, or Verified Carbon Standard.

Unlike other programs that made our list, you can’t purchase carbon offsets directly through the 3Degrees website. Instead, you can request a detailed quote that’s based on your goals and budget. This makes 3Degrees a better option for businesses that are interested in large offsets and that want to take advantage of other available sustainability services.

Why it's a fit for Treehugger: 3Degrees is Treehugger’s top choice for corporations because of the broad range of sustainability services and tailored approach to carbon offsets.

How We Chose the Best Carbon Offset Programs

Carbon offset programs are an effective way to counterbalance the environmental impacts of your daily activities. However, it’s important to choose a reputable company to ensure your money goes to a certified carbon offset project. For that reason, we chose carbon offset programs that work with third-party certified projects. We also focused our list on platforms with user-friendly calculators and a broad range of carbon offset options. 

While we chose 3Degrees as the best corporate pick for offering sustainable business services, we selected myclimate for the best home category because of its home carbon offset programs. And Sustainable Travel International (STI) earned the title of best air travel for specializing in conscious business practices.

But ultimately, we chose NativeEnergy as our top pick because of its user-friendly calculators that help users better understand their carbon footprint. The platform also offers the ability to purchase offsets monthly, quarterly, or annually so you can commit to regularly offsetting your environmental impact.