Frequently Asked

General VCM questions

What is a voluntary carbon market?

A voluntary carbon market is a system that allows individuals, organizations, and companies to purchase and trade carbon credits voluntarily to offset their carbon footprint and support climate change mitigation efforts.

How does the voluntary carbon market work?

In the voluntary carbon market, organizations can purchase carbon credits from projects that have been certified to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These credits represent one tonne of CO2 equivalent, which can be used to offset an equivalent amount of emissions. Companies or individuals can then retire these credits to claim carbon neutrality or carbon neutrality for specific products, services, or operations.

What are carbon credits?

Carbon credits are a tradable commodity representing a reduction or removal of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. One carbon credit is equivalent to one metric tonne of CO2 or other greenhouse gases.

What types of projects generate carbon credits?

Projects that generate carbon credits can include renewable energy projects, energy efficiency projects, and forest conservation and reforestation projects, among others. These projects are rigorously verified and monitored to ensure their emissions reductions are real, additional, measurable, permanent, and verifiable.

Why participate in the voluntary carbon market?

By purchasing carbon credits from voluntary carbon markets, companies and individuals can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and take action to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, participating in the voluntary carbon market can support the development of climate change mitigation projects around the world.

How are carbon credits priced?

The price of carbon credits is determined by supply and demand. Prices can vary depending on the project type, location, and certification standard.

What certification standards are used in the voluntary carbon market?

There are several certification standards used in the voluntary carbon market, including the Regenerative Standard, Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, and Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards. These standards ensure the credibility of the carbon credits generated from the projects.

Are carbon credits regulated?

Carbon credits are not regulated, but they are subject to certification standards and voluntary codes of conduct to ensure their integrity and credibility.

About the Regenerative Standard

What is the Regenerative Standard and what is its purpose?

The Regenerative Standard is governed by Applied Ecological Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our vision is to understand the needs of land stewards by providing straightforward protocols that are backed by science to incentivize and scale regenerative land management and restoration practices that create carbon drawdown offsets, provide reliable, defensible soil carbon storage, and deliver benefits beyond carbon. The Regenerative Standard works closely with the Regenerative Registry which certifies the high-quality, measured carbon drawdown offsets with the utmost transparency and auditability.

Why was the Regenerative Standard created?

Carbon is naturally stored in soils over time, where it nourishes plants, including grasses, trees, and other crops. Over the past couple of centuries, agriculture and land-use change have depleted soil carbon globally and in the United States. U.S. agricultural soils alone can sequester up to 10% of domestic greenhouse gases. The Regenerative Standard was created to help farmers, ranchers, and conservationists of rangeland, grassland, agricultural and conservation lands, in addition to carbon project developers, overcome barriers to adopting better soil carbon practices through robust, scientifically-informed support. The Regenerative Standard is designed to:

  1. Describe how carbon drawdown credits can be generated through nature-based, atmospheric carbon drawdown and reliable, soil carbon storage
  2. Guarantee delivery of high-quality, carbon removal credits, based on rigorous soil sampling, laboratory analysis, and independent, 3rd-party verification
  3. Make it easier to initiate and participate in soil carbon storage project opportunities by removing typical participation barriers

How does the Regenerative Standard meet additionality criteria?

Any project must demonstrate additionality and document one of two options. Option One is based on Verra’s traditional definition of additionality. Option Two is based on BCarbon’s definition of additionality and is more applicable to the land use of agriculture and grazing transitioning to regenerative and restorative practices.  Absent a climate-smart agriculture data set that includes a comprehensive mix of specific soil types, climate and locational contexts, practice types, and crop types, the Regenerative Standard’s approach to carbon credits simply incentivizes land stewards to go above and beyond their current practices to support measured outcomes.

How does the Regenerative Standard meet permanence criteria?

The Standard allows a more pragmatic, but shorter carbon storage permanence term of at least 10 years after each issuance of carbon credits. For example, if a land steward enrolls in carbon projects with contractual participation of at least 5 years, the total project permanence is at least 15 years (5 years of accrual + 10 years of storage). Permanence terms could be longer if the project developer enrolls land stewards with a longer contractual term. All project developers are required to document the project permanence term with the Registry.

How does the Regenerative Standard safeguard against leakage?

Under the Regenerative Standard, no offset credit is currently awarded for reductions in GHGs associated with reduced agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, reduced usage of powered farm equipment, or reduced emissions from livestock or manure operations. This makes this Standard inherently conservative in terms of the number of credits issued. For reasonable and sufficient assurance that carbon pools and GHG emissions are not changing for the project scenario, the project proponent is required to determine, at a minimum, the likelihood of the project activities leading to an increase in GHG emissions either within the project area or outside the project area based on consideration of the most important GHG emissions related to operations in agricultural, grazing and conservation lands.

Are Regenerative Standard credits carbon removal or emission avoidance credits?

The Regenerative Standard currently only quantifies carbon removal (drawdown) credits.Most soil carbon protocols credit some combination of carbon removal and avoided emissions, including CO₂ emissions unrelated to soil carbon (e.g. tractor use), and in some cases other greenhouse gases like N₂O and CH₄ that result from fertilizer use, grazing animals, or anaerobic decomposition.No protocols track carbon removal and avoided emissions separately, so buyers looking to focus exclusively on carbon removal must decipher this distinction themselves.To help make this distinction explicit, the Regenerative Standard currently applies only to carbon removal credits and does not include any benefits from “avoided emissions” credits.

Stakeholder questions


What should buyers look for in carbon credits?

Carbon credit buyers seek sterilized credits that have gone through the Regenerative Standard’s rigorous assessment process to generate offsets that are not only additional, permanent, and resilient to leakage, but also credits that are accurately calculated, not claimed by another entity, transparently retired, and have not caused any social harm as verified by independent, third-party verifiers and transparently registered and retired on the Regenerative Registry.

Verifiers & Other Partners

What can verifiers, validators, samplers, and other partners expect from the Regenerative Standard?

Partners include providers of Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) services. The Regenerative Standard provides clear and specific guidance to streamline the verification process and ensure that data, technology, calculations, confidence factors, and uncertainty calculations are reasonable and appropriate to ensure credit delivery and reduce the probability of shortfall. In addition to easy-to-follow checklists, the Regenerative Standard created a Verification Program Manual to guide verifiers with a standardized approach to the independent and rigorous verification of GHG removals reported by project developers into its offset program.

Who verifies projects developed under the Regenerative Standard?

Projects are verified by an independently approved verifier, who had a PhD soil ecologist on staff prior to submission to the Regenerative Registry. To prevent conflicts of interest, no organization can provide verification for any projects where they function as the soil sampling contractor. Any MRV company who is approved and in good standing in existing offset registries (e.g. Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, and Verra) can verify Regenerative Standard carbon removal claims. Today, verifiers include but are not limited to Earth Optics, SCS Global, Ruby Canyon, and Aster Global.

Project Developer & Project Proponents

What can project developers and proponents expect from the Regenerative Standard?

Project developers have a key role in keeping abreast of relevant documents, processes, and procedures to register, approve and run cost-effective soil carbon projects. The Regenerative Standard provides clear and straightforward checklists for validation and verification that better enables project developers to manage projects in both a time- and cost-effective way. It also allows forward-looking assessments and ex-ante crediting that gives them a more consistent cash flow.

Does the Regenerative Registry require withholding a buffer pool?

If so, how much and are pooled credits released back to the project? A percentage of project carbon credits are reserved by the Credit Registry to ensure that Interim Carbon Credits in the forward assessment are not overstated. This is addressed with a buffer. The number of credits withheld in a buffer pool is determined by one of the following:  Option 1 - Retainage:  10% of the credits issued from the project will be withheld in a buffer account and released at the end of the crediting period of no shortfall during the crediting period occurs and minimal disturbance occurred during the storage period. Option 2 - Pooling: The number of buffer credits to be contributed to the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) pooled buffer account can be determined by applying the latest version of the VCS AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool. Pooling only applies to contracts with a greater than 25-year commitment.

Land Stewards

What can land stewards expect from being a part of a Regenerative Standard carbon project?

Land stewards want the simplicity and trustworthiness of the Regenerative Standard that aligns with the goals of their land, regenerative agriculture, and succession plans. The Regenerative Standard also allows for earlier payments to reward land stewards for their regenerative agriculture practices that accelerate the regeneration and restoration of the land.And according to Farm Journal, land stewards justifiably want "trust that carbon-marketplace partners intend to recognize the total value of their farm operation and to compensate them appropriately." This requires bundling co-benefits into the price of a cohesive ecosystem service payment, which includes carbon sequestration. The Regenerative Standard is designing other ecosystem credits to increase the revenue potential for land stewards enough to make it more financially viable and attractive to transition to regenerative practices.

Can the Regenerative Standard be used in croplands, grasslands, or rangelands?

Yes. The Regenerative Standard can be used in cropland, grassland, and rangeland ecosystems.

Registering, Purchasing, & Retiring Regen Credits

What registries can I use for the carbon credits certified under the Regenerative Standard?

The Regenerative Registry is a separate entity from the Regenerative Standard and is the only current registry supporting credits from the Regenerative Standard. The Regenerative Registry requires independent, 3rd-party verification to certify and issue credits. Visit for more details.

Is there a fee to use the Regenerative Standard?

There is no fee to use the Regenerative Standard per se. It only provides a process for land stewards and project developers to use regenerative land management and restoration practices to create carbon drawdown credits and ecological co-benefits through nature-based solutions that provide reliable, quantifiable, and durable results. There are, however, transaction fees for the issuance and registration of carbon and other ecosystem credits generated from the Regenerative Standard.

Participating in the Regenerative Standard’s Future

How do I participate in the development of the Regenerative Standard?

To comment and contribute to the current and future versions of the Regenerative Standard, visit

How are requests for modifications of the Regenerative Standard submitted, reviewed, and decided?

There are no restrictions on who may comment during public review periods. We hold a 30-day public review and comment period during the development process for each of our protocols. We distribute the notice of the public review period to the newsletter distribution list and account holders. During the public review period, we also hold an in-person or virtual public workshop with conference call and webcast capabilities. Click here to add your email address to our distribution list.

When will new protocols be developed?

The Standard uses an intensive, multi-stakeholder process to develop its standardized project protocols. Developing a new protocol generally takes 9 to 12 months from start to finish. Once the development process is initiated with the formation of a workgroup, the protocol in development will have its own webpage with additional information on timeline, workgroups, contact information, background resources, contribution opportunities, etc.