NZ Guidance for Voluntary Emissions Offsetting – What You Need to Know

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NZ Guidance for Voluntary Emissions Offsetting – What You Need to Know

There is a huge appetite in New Zealand to act on climate change and reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions according to Hon James Shaw, New Zealand’s Minister for Climate Change, (Government releases first, 2019).

The Ministry for the Environment published a Guidance for voluntary emissions. A guide for organisations, entities, and individuals who wish to be carbon neutral and to their bid to offset their emissions.

The guide only applies to voluntary emissions offsetting by an organisation and does not apply to regulated entities or sectors required by the government to report their emissions having ‘surrender obligations and reporting obligations.’

These sectors apart from agriculture, are comprised of the forestry, agriculture, waste, synthetic gases, industrial processes, liquid fossils, and stationery energy like electricity generation and industrial heating.

The guidance provides details on how voluntary offsetting can be considered credible by meeting the criteria of transparency, measurable and verified, have additional value due to an intervention done, not double-counted, addresses leakage, and should be permanent.

The New Zealand Unit or NZU is the primary unit of trade in the NZ ETS (NZ Emission Trading Scheme), wherein one NZU represents one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent for other greenhouse gases.

Currently, there is no direct link between the NZU of the NZ ETS to New Zealand’s international emissions reduction target for 2020.  How New Zealand’s emission is accounted and reported internationally differs to the way emissions are accounted for in the NZ ETS. 

NZ ETS is domestic policy and operates domestically under the Ministry for the Environment.

However, voluntary emissions can still be used to achieve both the international and domestic reductions by following a Kyoto cancellation process involving a two-step process. Voluntary offsetting using New Zealand Units (NZU’s) should follow a Kyoto cancellation process to avoid double counting, that is counted both against a national target and as a voluntary offset (Guidance for voluntary, 2019).

The guide explains in detail how this is done. Get a copy by clicking on the button below:

The guidance will be effective until 31 December 2020, however, work is currently done to provide another guide for post-2020.

New Zealand continues to progress her commitment and cooperation towards achieving national and international climate change programs through the Guidance document, the Zero Carbon Act and other climate adaptation and mitigation plans.

Sources citation:

Government releases first national voluntary emissions offset guidelines. (2019, September 18). Beehive. Govt. NZ. Retrieved from

Ministry for the Environment. 2019. Guidance for voluntary emissions offsetting until 31 December 2020. Wellington: Ministry for the Environment.  Retrieved from

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