V – Review of American Carbon Registry (ACR)

American Carbon Registry (ACR)

The American Carbon Registry (ex-GHG Registry) was launched in 1996 by the Environmental Resources Trust which was founded by the Environmental Defence Fund. The American Carbon Registry joined Winrock International in 2007, an organization with great expertise in climate change, forestry, clean energy, agriculture and carbon market (American Carbon Registry, 2009a).

The analysis below has been assessed from the information available at the American Carbon Registry website (American Carbon Registry, 2009a), the Forestry Carbon Project Standard (American Carbon Registry, 2009b) and Mary Grady from Winrock International/ ACR.

No forestry projects have been certified so far, however there is one forestry project awaiting certification.

Afforestation/ Reforestation       Score: 5

American Carbon Registry accepts afforestation, reforestation and improved forest management projects.

REDD          Score: 5

American Carbon Registry accepts REDD projects.

Location          Score: 5

Projects should be located either in the US or in non-Annex I countries.

Additionality           Score: 5

ACR uses its own additionality tool. A project must pass a test that has three steps:

Regulatory Surplus test: a project must prove that the reductions go beyond any regulations

Common Practice test: a project, technology or practice cannot be widespread in the region

Implementation barrier test (at least one barrier must exist):

  • Financial barrier: carbon finance is the only reason for the project to be financially viable.
  • Technological barrier: the primary reason for the use of the technology is to reduce carbon emissions upon the project’s commencement.
  • Institutional barrier: provide evidence of organizational, cultural or social barriers for the implementation of the project.

ACR provides a simplified way to prove additionality; therefore it will receive the highest score.

Methodology Approved        Score: 3

ACR accepts methodologies from VCS, CDM, EPA Climate Leaders, WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol. In addition, if no methodology is available, it may accept a single methodology for a new project called “Site Specific Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Protocol (MRV Protocol).

ACR offers well defined guidelines as a methodology for forestry projects but does not have tools, however ACR provides links to find the tools needed for other methodologies.

ACR is unique because it uses methodologies from other standards, which provides a guarantee of high quality credits. However, ACR does not provide its own detailed methodology, so this will reduce the score to 3 points.

Permanence        Score: 5

ACR offers three options to deal with permanence:

– Buffer pool

– Insurance policy to replace the credits

– Replace the losses with other credits.

Project developers should use the “VCS permanence risk and assessment and buffer determination tool” if using the buffer pool approach.

The flexibility provided to approach permanence gives ACR the maximum grade.

Leakage        Score: 4

VCS or CDM leakage tools shall be used. Activity shifting and market leakage must be analysed.

Co-benefits        Score: 4

ACR accounts for co-benefits such as socio-economic and environmental impacts and requires project developers to use CCBS methodology for these factors. For neglecting to offer its own tool, ACR will receive 4 points.

Registry*        Score: 5

ACR uses a third party registry and provides serial numbers for credits. ACR will receive the highest score.

(*) Errata: the research previously showed that ACR only used its own registry, however that information was incorrect and has now been updated.

Transparency        Score: 3

All the projects are available online through the easily accessible ACR. The PDDs are not available but the monitoring, reporting and verification reports are available for all projects. Public consultation is not available. For these reasons, ACR scores 3 points.

ICROA      Score: 1

ICROA does not accept ACR credits.

US Market        Score: 5

ACR mainly operates in the US market, this gives the highest score.


The American Carbon Registry scores 50 points and provides a good guarantee that the carbon credits are real, verified, permanent, additional and unique. All the information provided is clear and understandable. ACR is very flexible and accepts methodologies from most standards. However, ACR does not differentiate itself from other standards; instead ACR requires the project developer to use tools from other standards in order to receive ACR certification. This explains why ACR scores particularly well. However, as a project developer, there are not many reasons to choose ACR over the other standards. The small number of projects also shows that is it going to be difficult to compete with the other standards.


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