There are five criteria for carbon offsets that are recognized by all climate bodies and are outlined by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Offsets must represent one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that are reduced or sequestered as a result of an activity taken for that purpose.
Carbon offsets are considered permanent if they are not reversible.
Additionality means that the carbon offsets were generated by activities that would not have occurred without a carbon marketplace as an incentive.
Emission reductions and sequestration must be monitored and verified.
Enforceable carbon offsets must be tracked and logged so that ownership is verifiable and an offset may only be sold once.