Climate Action Reserve Drives Progress for Environmental Protection

With deep roots in California and a reach across North America, Climate Action Reserve is an offset registry to serve the carbon markets. By collaborating with landowners, businesses, the environmental community, scientists, and the government, the Reserve develops market-based incentives to reduce emissions from hard-to-regulate sources. The program was recently chosen by the Leadership Council as the CLASSY Award Winner for Environmental Protection.

To determine the winners, the Leadership Council applied their own expertise to judging criteria developed by the CLASSY Awards in partnership with the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, a recognized authority on analyzing social impact within and across causes to assess programs that are poised to drive social progress. The criteria looks at (1) Scale and Scope of the Problem or Issue Addressed, (2) Strength of Strategy Employed, (3) Impact To-Date, and (4) Organizational Effectiveness and Resource Management.

Climate Action Reserve implements a three-part strategy in local US communities that demonstrates the environmental efficacy and cost-effectiveness of market-based approaches, encourages collaboration among local agencies and then brings integrity and credibility to the certification of carbon offsets by pioneering clear, objective performance-based standards.

“Starting with California’s forward-thinking policies and actions, the Reserve has scaled up its rigorous, transparent approach for carbon markets not just in the state of California, but now in many other places around the world. They are not just achieving results now, but laying the groundwork for a future where reducing and offsetting carbon emissions is the rule, not the exception,” said Jeffrey Parrish, Senior Director, World Wildlife Fund and Leadership Council member on the Environmental Protection board.

Climate Action Reserve
Program Name

United States

Start date

Gary Gero
Program Director


Climate pollution from the burning of fossil fuels and other sources has created a greenhouse effect in the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in significant changes to our climate. Such global climate change threatens to disrupt the planet’s food and water systems, its economic infrastructure, and its plant and animal habitats causing devastating impacts on people throughout the world. Lastly, traditional regulatory tools fail to capture GHG emission reductions in hard to reach sectors.

“There is perhaps no greater threat to the future of wildlife and all life on Earth, including our own, than climate change. While the pace of glaciers melting at both poles and in our mountains is speeding up, the glacial pace of governments to take action to keep carbon out of the air seems to only get slower,” said Parrish.

“But because of the Climate Action Reserve, I have hope,” added Parrish. “By leaping ahead with progressive businesses that realize we must offset our carbon emissions with conservation projects that keep carbon locked up in nature and showing market-based solutions, the reserve is leading the way – showing that it’s not that hard, that it’s doable, that it’s common sense.”

The Climate Action Reserve approach has now been integrated into California’s cap-and-trade program and is influencing other emission trading schemes throughout the world. The organization has certified over 52 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions from a variety of sources including forests, agriculture, industrial gases, and methane sources, the equivalent of removing nearly 11 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year. In addition, the Reserve has developed 15 standardized, performance-based offset protocols, which provide accurate and comprehensive guidelines for the development, implementation, verification and registration of projects that reduce GHG emissions.

It is my belief that, on this day when the EPA has announced new action to reduce carbon emissions by power plants by 30%, it is such efforts – including the innovations and proven track record of the Climate Action Reserve – that will eventually open the floodgates toward global approaches to reduce carbon emissions and bend the trajectory of our warming world.
-Jeffrey Parrish, World Wildlife Fund

The Reserve is excited about upcoming developments that will spread its work and create more opportunities for meaningfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This summer, it is expecting to adopt an updated version of its standard for urban forestry in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. it will expand its work in Mexico and will be providing technical support and assistance to the Government of Kazakhstan on the development of its climate change program.

“I was truly honored and inspired to be among so many amazing and accomplished organizations who are so passionate about their work. Seeing the positive impacts of both the winners and of all the nominees at the awards ceremony really made a bold statement about the power of collaboration, dedication, and simple hard work,” said Gary Gero, President of Climate Action Reserve. “We share this award and the recognition of our work with all of the environmental groups, businesses, government agencies, academic institutions and individuals who have been a part of our work over the last 11 years.”

About Climate Action Reserve

The Climate Action Reserve is the most experienced, trusted and efficient offset registry to serve the carbon markets. With deep roots in California and a reach across North America and beyond, the Reserve encourages actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and works to ensure environmental benefit, integrity and transparency in market-based solutions to address global climate change. It operates the largest accredited registry for the California compliance market and has played an integral role in the development and administration of the state’s cap-and-trade program.

For the voluntary market, the Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies and issues and tracks the transaction of carbon credits (Climate Reserve Tonnes) generated from such projects in a transparent, publicly accessible system. The Reserve program promotes immediate environmental and health benefits to local communities and brings credibility and value to the carbon market. The Climate Action Reserve is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California.

About the CLASSYs

Since it’s inception five years ago, the CLASSYs have recognized the efforts of thousands of exceptional organizations and individuals, providing public insight into our world’s greatest achievements. With the insight and participation of experts and institutions, the CLASSY Awards has established a new way of measuring social impact across causes at a global scale. This methodology provides insight into the program strategies, outputs, outcomes and growth of these bold solutions relative to the problem being addressed.

The yearlong initiative to discover the most innovative and effective models identifies and evaluates organizations in eight major cause categories, including Active Duty & Veteran Services, Animal & Wildlife Welfare, Educational Advancement, Environmental Protection, Health Services, Human Rights & Social Justice, Poverty & Hunger Relief, Disaster Relief & Public Safety.

CLASSY Awards Nominees are selected through an intensive evaluation process created and developed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Center for High Impact Philanthropy. For the 5th Annual CLASSY Awards, organizations were evaluated through a five-step process that began with 3600 organizations. After a pre-application form was submitted, applicants completed a 20-minute phone interview. From there, those that passed were asked to complete a Nomination Profile in order to be eligible for a CLASSY Award. The Top 5 Nominees in each of the 25 cause categories were announced, narrowing the pool down from 3600 to 121. The 121 Nominees were then passed onto the Leadership Council, whose respective boards collectively determined the 25 Finalists and ultimately the 8 Winners.

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