In 1997 The Climate Trust was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to acquire carbon offsets on behalf of new fossil-fueled power plants regulated by the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard, the nation's first legislation to curb emissions of carbon dioxide.
As the first and largest institutional buyer of carbon offsets in the early days of the U.S. carbon market, we faced unexplored territory in purchasing offsets. A ready supply of offsets, protocols, and quality standards did not exist. We created processes from scratch, so we could evaluate and compare projects; quantify, verify and register offsets; and sign contracts and fund projects. Our pioneering work has been critical to the development of industry standards in the United States.
We are now a nationally recognized innovator and quality leader in the carbon offset market. We earned that reputation slowly, with a series of firsts and lessons learned.
- June 1997: Founded as the first qualified nonprofit organization to administer the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard.
- Aug 1999: PPM's Klamath plant is the first power plant to commit money to comply with the Oregon Standard.
- Nov 1999: Mike Burnett is hired as the founding Executive Director.
- 2000: Issue first Request for Proposal for offset projects; we receive 60 proposals.
- May 2001: Contract and fund the first offset project.
- Summer 2001: Two new power plants commit money; double staff to four.
- 2002: Launch Donate-to-Offset Program after Progressive Investment Management seeks to buy offsets from us.
- May 2003: Launch CarbonCounter.org, a site that allows users to calculate and offset their carbon footprints.
- Dec 2003: Receive first offset delivery from the Innovative Wind Financing project, which delivers all contracted tons 8 years early.
- Early 2004: Serve as adviser to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) process, focusing on offsets.
- Sept 2004: Present first 5-year Report to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council, as required by statute.
- 2005: Move to current office space to accommodate doubling of staff, from four to eight.
- Aug 2006: Launch formal policy initiative, with hire of first Policy Analyst.
- Dec 2006: Clean Air Cool Planet names us one of only two U.S. organizations in top tier of global offset providers in its "Consumer's Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers."
- 2007: We serve on the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) Steering Committee; VCS adopts our additionality tests.
- Sept 2007: TCT partners with NW Natural on Smart Energy program.
- Sept 2007: Listed as a model organization in the Business Council for Sustainable Energy's "Recommendation for a Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset Program."
- Nov 2007: TCT celebrates 10th anniversary.
- Nov 2007: Spearhead creation of Offset Quality Initiative.
- May 2008: Colorado Governor's Energy Office chooses us to implement the Colorado Carbon Fund.
- Nov 2008: Carbon Concierge ranks us 2nd of North American offset providers in its Carbon Offset Provider Evaluation Matrix.
- Jan 2009: TCT shuts down CarbonCounter.org to focus on other programs.
The Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard was the first U.S. law aimed at reducing levels of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas. This law requires new power plants built in Oregon to offset part of their carbon dioxide emissions in one of three ways:
1. Investing directly in on-site carbon emission reductions
2. Funding and developing offset projects
3. Providing funding on a fee-per-ton basis to a state-recognized nonprofit responsible for selecting and managing offset projects on their behalf
The Climate Trust was founded in 1997 to administer the Oregon Standard and remains the only organization qualified to do so. To date, all power plants have chosen to the third option, giving The Climate Trust money to purchase carbon offsets that are generated by projects that avoid, sequester, or displace carbon dioxide on their behalf.