The Climate Trust

The Climate Trust mobilizes conservation finance to maximize environmental returns. Building upon a legacy of innovation and leadership in the carbon market, The Climate Trust accelerates the pace of carbon mitigation through conservation finance. We value air, water and soil through the development, purchase and sale of qualified offsets and a relentless investment in people and projects with environmental purpose.

Company details

65 SW Yamhill Street, Suite 400 , Portland , Oregon 97204 USA

Locations Served

Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Air and Climate - Climate Change
Market Focus:
Nationally (across the country)
Year Founded:
1997

Who We Are

Building upon a legacy of innovation and leadership in the carbon market, The Climate Trust accelerates the pace of carbon mitigation through conservation finance. We value air, water and soil through the development, purchase and sale of qualified offsets and a relentless investment in people and projects with environmental purpose.

Investing in a Brighter Future

We are committed to staving off a disastrous rise in global temperatures by accelerating the pace of carbon mitigation through increased deployment of finance. To accelerate the pace of project development, we have found that early-stage funding is critical—offering greater potential for impact and supporting a vital stage of project development.

Climate Trust Capital, an independent firm of The Climate Trust, is launching a first-of-its-kind fund to channel large volumes of financing into early-stage projects that will generate offsets. We are currently deploying funding in our preferred sectors—forestry, grassland conservation, and livestock digesters—and plan to incorporate additional sectors as our investment fund scales.

To date, The Trust has reduced the emissions equivalent of over 678,398 cars driven for one year, helping to protect our natural heritage.The Climate Trust is proud to play a role in meeting our national climate goals, especially through new and emerging sectors with a strong opportunity for impact. Sean Penrith, Executive Director, The Climate Trust

Where We Come From

In 1997, The Trust was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to assist new fossil-fueled power plants in complying with the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard—the nation’s first legislation to curb emissions of carbon dioxide. The Trust was responsible for acquiring carbon offsets, and selecting and managing pollution reduction projects on behalf of these utilities.

As the first and largest institutional buyer of carbon offsets in the early days of the U.S. carbon market, The Trust 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 U.S.

The Oregon CO2 Standard

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 reduce or offset 17% of their carbon dioxide emissions in one of three ways:

  1. Investing directly in on-site carbon emission reductions
  2. Funding and developing pollution reduction projects
  3. Providing funding to a state-recognized nonprofit responsible for selecting and managing pollution reduction projects on their behalf

The Trust remains the only organization qualified to administer the Oregon Standard. To date, all regulated utilities have chosen the third option, giving The Trust funding to mitigate their carbon pollution through projects t­hat avoid, sequester, or displace carbon dioxide on their behalf.

A Trusted Partner

Since its inception, The Trust has committed to purchase over $33.2 million in carbon financing for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. The cornerstone of our business—delivering on the Oregon Standard—has built a strong legacy of innovation that delivers results for our compliance partners and the environment year after year.

The majority of our projects and programs are locally focused, enabling The Trust to grow strong grassroots support for climate action. In fact, 56% of the money we invest on behalf of utilities stays in Oregon. Additionally, our Oregon-based projects are from diverse sectors, including transportation, renewable energy, forestry, livestock digesters, energy efficiency, and landfill & waste.

Beyond administering the Oregon Standard, The Trust has also been successful at managing carbon acquisitions for multiple special purpose programs in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Montana, California, and Massachusetts; each providing exceptional benefits to our partners. Through NW Natural’s successful voluntary offset program, Smart Energy, The Trust has committed over $3.6 million in carbon finance to nine methane energy utilization projects, anticipated to deliver approximately 452,425 carbon offsets for the program.

Rural agriculture holds a significant opportunity to mitigate climate change, particularly through the development and adoption of innovative models, including improved nutrient management, avoided grassland conversion and biochar. The Climate Trust is a partner on multiple, United States Department of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grants this year. The first grant – in partnership with The Fertilizer Institute – provided funding to design a program that encourages farmers to adopt best nutrient management practices. The second – in partnership with Ducks Unlimited – was designed to prevent the conversion of native grasslands into cropland across the Northern Great Plains.

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.

The Climate Trust has an Oregon Board of Directors and a National Board of Directors. The ten-member National Board of Directors oversees all non-Oregon programs and activities.

The Oregon Board of Directors oversees the programs and activities that fulfill our statutory obligations under the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard. The composition of the Oregon Board is specified by the Oregon Standard:

  • 3 members are selected by the environmental community
  • 3 members are nominated by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council
  • 1 member is elected by the regulated power generators

In addition, each Oregon power generator that has provided offset funding to The Climate Trust may appoint a non-voting Board member so long as The Climate Trust holds funds associated with that site certificate.

The Climate Trust's mission is to promote climate change solutions by providing high-quality carbon offset projects and advancing sound offset policy. We fulfill our mission by providing the following:

  • Climate policy - Providing education and expert advice to policymakers on incorporation of offsets in climate laws and regulations
  • Compliance offset work - Selecting and contracting offset projects that comply with regulation
  • Voluntary offset work - Designing customized voluntary offset programs and services
  • Consulting - Assessing offset projects and advising on climate policy

We are a pioneer and nationally recognized leader in the carbon market. That's why many – from regulated utilities to businesses to state and local governments - turn to us for our experience, expertise, and innovation.

Examples of our partnerships

The Climate Trust works with a wide range of partners. Some key examples include:

Regulated utilities

  • Partnered with Seattle City Light on several joint offset project acquisitions in order to meet their voluntary reduction targets
  • Worked with NW Natural on the development and implementation of their Smart Energy program

Businesses

  • Worked with the Portland Doubletree Hotel to develop an event carbon calculator and a 'stay carbon neutral' program.
  • Provided voluntary offsets to Nike, one of the first U.S. companies to offset its corporate carbon footprint

Local and state governments

  • Selected by the Colorado Governor's Energy Office as the administrator of the Colorado Carbon Fund

Our policy initiatives

The Climate Trust advocates for the responsible incorporation of offsets into climate change policy, with an emphasis on quality standards to ensure both environmental and market integrity. As both a nonprofit organization and as an experienced offset provider, we have a unique perspective to share with policymakers. Our experiences as a leader in acquiring, developing, delivering, and managing cost-effective and innovative greenhouse gas offset projects inform our policy work. We contribute more than a decade of expertise to state & regional and national policy debates by:

  1. Providing commentary and testimony for state and regional climate initiatives such as California's AB32 and the Western Climate Initiative.
  2. Serving on committees and in stakeholder meetings (e.g., Oregon Gov. Kulongoski's Global Warming Advisory Group, Carbon Allocation Task Force, and Climate Change Integration Group).
  3. Spearheading and participating in strategic partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and timely publications through the Offset Quality Initiative.

As federal climate change policy takes shape over the coming year, The Climate Trust will focus on promoting sound implementation of the federal offset system at the administrator level.