Washington cap-and-invest offsets

In 2021, the Washington Legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act, which established the state’s cap-and-invest program. The program is one important tool in the state’s toolbox for reaching its goal of 95 percent below 1990 emissions levels and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Under the cap-and-invest program, companies have the opportunity to invest in projects that reduce/sequester GHG emissions outside of its facilities – through cap-and-invest offsets.

Offset projects registered under the program must be real, quantifiable, verifiable, enforceable, additional and demonstrate direct environmental benefits to the state.

In the first four-year compliance period of the cap-and-invest program, companies can use offset credits for up to five percent of their compliance obligation and an additional three percent with credits from projects on federally recognized Tribal lands.

Our role as an OPR

The Climate Action Reserve has been approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to support the state’s cap-and-invest program as an Offset Project Registry (OPR). In this role, the Reserve will accept, review, and approve offset project submittals to ensure adherence to the state’s standards before sending the projects on to the state for its review and issuance of compliance credits to be used in the state’s compliance program.

Offset protocols

Ecology has adopted four offset protocols from California’s Cap-and-Trade Program:

  1. U.S. Forestry
    • Reforestation, avoided conversion (conserving a forest under threat), and improved forest management projects (geared toward working forests).
  2. Urban Forestry
    • Planting and maintaining trees in urban areas.
  3. Livestock Projects
    • Capturing methane on dairy or swine farms by installing specialized “digester” tanks.
  4. Ozone Depleting Substances
    • Extracting and destroying certain GHGs that are no longer being produced because of how damaging they are to the environment, such as hydrofluorocarbons, which are typically found in commercial and industrial air-conditioning units and refrigerators.

For more information, please visit: https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-Commitment-Act/Cap-and-invest/Offsets