The California Climate Action Registry rolled out a new greenhouse gas emission reduction certification program. It aims to support developing offset projects carried out within U.S. borders. “We’re now turning our expertise to carbon reduction projects, or offsets,” said Gary Gero, registry president, announcing the new program May 15. Utilities in the state are banking on the ability to offset some of their carbon emissions to meet an expected greenhouse gas emissions cap under state law. Under the registry’s certification program, it issues emission reduction credits for certified projects that are audited annually to verify that the greenhouse gases actually were eliminated, Gero explained. “This is how you can assure that these reductions are real,” he said. Initially, the program aims at certifying emissions reductions from five types of projects: -Livestock biodigesters; -Landfill methane capture; -Avoided deforestation; -Reforestation; and -Forest conservation management. Gero said certification of credits for avoided deforestation would be offered only when the removal of trees was imminent, such as in rezoning land for development. Each ton reduced through an offset project receives a “serial number” to prevent it from being “double sold.” “We believe this effort creates a model for the carbon market today and raises expectations,” said Linda Adams, California Environmental Protection Agency secretary. Pacific Gas & Electric, for example, recently created an offset program that allows its ratepayers to pay a fee to help protect two forests threatened by development. The claimed offsets from the forests in Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties are certified by the registry. It should provide the carbon market with “increased certainty,” commented Ken Newcombe, Goldman Sachs carbon desk managing director. The California Climate Action Registry was set up by the state to develop standardized methods that companies can use to measure their greenhouse gases and track reductions in expectation of a cap-and-trade market. The registry said it plans to expand the types of offset projects that can qualify for certification as it develops the needed accounting methods.