7 signs you're dealing with a carbon offset cowboy

Take the test to make sure your intermediary is above board – and keep your carbon underground

Fenix Carbon


3 mins

They’ve been referred to as profiteers, or carbon pirates. They take a cut of your precious carbon offset budget and pocket it for themselves. And you have no idea how much. A recent report says that 9 in 10 intermediaries in the Voluntary Carbon Market don’t disclose their fees or profit margins. How are we supposed to channel money towards those doing the right thing if we don’t even know where our money goes in the first place?

At Fenix Carbon, we have a different name for these characters. We call them carbon cowboys – and they’re living it up in the Wild West.

But there are ways to avoid their tricks. If you’ve started your journey to carbon neutrality – and you’ve decided part of your approach is offsetting – watch out for these seven tell-tale signs you’re dealing with a seller that isn’t ethical; or at the very least, isn’t giving you bang for your offsetting buck.

  1. 📜 Certification. They don’t provide access to details of your purchase directly in the registry (a weblink and certificate).

    They don’t (or can’t) send you certification for the credits you’ve bought.

  2. 🕵 Vetting. They don’t have a rigorous process of vetting and maintaining their listing. Ask yourself this: How does a project make the cut in this marketplace?

    They don’t have a separate — and rigorous — process for vetting projects. (Hint: These shouldn’t be that hard to find.)

  3. 📚 Portfolios. Do you know exactly which project you are buying? Is there a link to the registry? Or is the credit a non-transparent mix of projects?

    If you can’t see it, it probably isn’t there.

  4. 🕰️ Older vintages. Your broker either doesn’t state the vintage of the credits, or can only offer old ones. Methodologies have generally improved over time.

    Look for vintages that state the project specifically, by year.

  5. 👀 Credits aren’t retired on your behalf. Easy one this: your company name is on the registry certificate, meaning you are the one entitled to this credit.

    Are you the entitled retiree of the credits?

  6. 🤔 They use unrecognised certifiers instead of the globally recognised bodies. It may help at least to know there is literally a gold standard. You can find a full list of certifiers here.

    Credit where credit is due. Know your authority.

  7. ⚡Crypto may offer secure technology, and the promise of transparency, but it does not equal quality. At least, not yet. In fact, it often disguises bad credits. 

    Just because the tech is good, doesn’t mean it’s being used for good.

It's one thing to know exactly where your money goes. But you also want it to go to the highest quality projects. Fenix Carbon goes straight to source, linking buyers with projects directly. This means we give over 60% more to our projects than a typical intermediary. No sneaky hidden fees. And should there be any nagging doubts, it’s all fully auditable. Peace of mind for you, and your carbon credits!

Fenix Carbon is unleashing the next million planet saving projects.

Our mission is to harness the power of data to unlock capital for early stage carbon projects.

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