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The Carbon Market

Definition of Criteria Required for the Issuance of Offset Credits

The following definitions were developed based on recommendations from the official Western Climate Initiative (WCI) document:


An additional GHG emission reduction is one that would not have occurred under a business-as-usual scenario; the reduction goes beyond what regulatory requirements in force and current practices would produce.

An additional GHG reduction would not have taken place without additional incentives. According to the WCI’s additionality criterion, the reductions must result from efforts that go beyond current practices and the most stringent regulatory requirements of any WCI partner governments.


A permanent reduction is a lasting reduction that is not reversible. However, given the nature of some projects and the environment in which they will be implemented, it is possible that unintended and random events could occur during the lifetime of the projects. These events could cause the sequestered GHGs to be released back into the atmosphere.

As part of all offset projects, promoters must define a risk level as to a possible re-emission of the GHGs they wish to sequester. In the case of projects where there is a risk that the GHG emissions reductions are reversible, mechanisms must be put in place so that, if an emissions reduction is reversed, the effect on the climate is as neutral as possible for a period of one hundred years.

A portion of offset credits generated by an offset credit project will be placed in the Minister’s environmental integrity account. Such offset credits can be extinguished in the event that GHG emissions reductions become ineligible after having been issued. Subject to a special rate under a protocol, a 3% rate is levied on each project and placed into the Minister's environmental integrity account. For GHG sequestration projects, specific rates for each type of project will be determined when these protocols are integrated into the Regulation respecting a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances.


A verifiable GHG reduction is one that has already occurred and is completely and sufficiently documented such that a qualified auditor who is a member of a verification body accredited under ISO 14065 can, by an objective review of the offset project site, confirm its completion and accuracy.


A real GHG reduction is one that:

  • results from a clearly identified action or decision by the promoter;
  • is quantified using methods that are reliable, reproducible, based on the best available science, appropriate to the project’s GHG source and take into consideration specific local conditions;
  • is quantified in a “conservative” manner that appropriately accounts for uncertainty thresholds and applies the necessary reduction factors that minimize the risk of overestimating emissions reductions;
  •  does not lead to leaks, i.e. to increases in GHG emissions elsewhere that would, in whole or in part, cancel the benefits associated with a project’s GHG emissions reductions.

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