The ABCs of renewable energy RECs and greenhouse gas offsets

Rob Harmon

Bonneville Environmental Foundation

There is much discussion in this book about how RECs should or should not interact with the GHG market. The overarching question in the RECs vs carbon offsets debate is: when customers buy renewable energy certificates, under what circumstances should those purchases be considered GHG offsets?

It is useful to approach this question by carefully breaking it down into three questions: Does renewable energy reduce GHG emissions? When customers buy RECs as CO2 reductions, under what circumstances are those purchases meaningful? How can customers use RECs to offset their organizations' CO2 emissions?

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