Retiring Carbon Credits: A crash course
3 min readJun 16, 2022

The short explanation: Burning carbon credits is the equivalent of stamping a single-entry ticket into a concert; it’s been used, but it can’t be used again.

When does a carbon credit retire?

In the voluntary carbon market (VCM), carbon credits can be issued for each ton of carbon that has not been emitted (avoided) or removed from the atmosphere.

A carbon credit certifying agency measures the potential carbon to be removed from the atmosphere. They then can issue and sell carbon credits for the project developer. This gives the project developer financing to continue the project. A certifying agency like Wildsense tracks the issuing of carbon credits in a registry.

Those carbon credits are sold to a company or individual. They can then be “burned,” or traded on the VCM. If a company or individual burns the credits, it’s typically to apply them towards a carbon-neutral goal. This is known as compensating for carbon emissions.

Current and future carbon neutral and net zero commitment of companies panorama

Once a carbon credit is burned, or retired, it doesn’t exist anymore. This means neither the carbon credit holder nor the certifier can sell the credits on the VCM. They also cannot be counted the following year as carbon compensation.

It’s usually corporations with carbon neutrality goals that retire carbon credits. Let’s look at how that works.

The Corporate Pathway

With the number of corporate carbon neutrality pledges, corporations purchasing VCM credits to compensate for their emissions is also on the rise¹.

A good example of this is Lyft, a popular competitor to Uber. The company bought and retired enough carbon credits in 2020 to equal the total amount of carbon emissions in its greenhouse gas inventory report².

Like in the Lyft example, a company that compensates their emissions with carbon credits reports them on the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) report. This states clearly the action they’re taking to compensate for their carbon footprint. At this time on the VCM there is no requirement for companies to clarify on their balance sheet between burned carbon credits and carbon credits they are trading on the VCM.

Compensating carbon in this way is one tool in the toolkit companies are using to “clean up” their environmental impact.

CarbonABLE and Corporate Buyers

One side of CarbonABLE’s mission is financing carbon sink restoration projects through the creation of NFTs with a real-world backed market value. Those projects issue carbon credits that CarbonABLE receives. On the other side of our mission, our team of experts trades those carbon credits on the VCM (this creates value for our NFT holders).

If a company purchases carbon credits from CarbonABLE traders or they purchases a block of NFTs, they can claim them as carbon compensation. In both cases, we’d issue a certificate. This certificate proves that they purchased the carbon credits and that we retired them in their name. The credits can no longer be used to compensate for emissions nor can they be traded.

Example of a Carbon Credit Certificate for our B2B clients

Retiring carbon credits responsibly, i.e. when they’ve been accounted for on a company’s environmental impact report, is just one way that CarbonABLE is acting today to secure a better future for tomorrow.





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