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30 May 2013 | Washington, D.C. | Voluntary demand for carbon offsetting grew 6% in 2012, when buyers
committed more than $522 million to offset 101 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Private sector
buyers flocked to offsets earned by planting trees, saving tropical forests, or distributing clean cookstoves in the
developing world, according to this year’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report, released by Forest Trends’
Ecosystem Marketplace this week in Barcelona, Spain.
The European private sector, including regulated energy utilities, was the market’s biggest voluntary buyer – seeing
demand grow 34% to 43 million tonnes of offsets even in the face of significant challenges to Europe’s mandatory
Across the pond, United States‐based corporates, ranging from the Walt Disney Company to Chevrolet, offset more
emissions than buyers in any other single country at 28.7 million tonnes. Almost a third of offsets purchased by US
buyers (9.7 million tonnes) were obtained for future use in California’s emerging cap‐and‐trade program.
The market‐wide survey found that 2012’s voluntary actors paid a volume‐weighted average price of $5.9/tonne –
slightly down from 2011’s $6.2/tonne, but significantly higher than the United Nations’ regulatory carbon offset price
at less than a $1/tonne.
“Whether in North America or Europe, these findings show that many companies remain willing to act ahead of
governments when it comes to putting a meaningful price on carbon,” says Michael Jenkins, president of Ecosystem
Marketplace parent organization Forest Trends.
According to the report, one third of all offsets purchased voluntarily were done so to “demonstrate climate
leadership” in the buyers’ respective industries – while traditional corporate social responsibility was behind another
42% of voluntary offset transactions. Multinational corporations were responsible for over a quarter of all offset
demand, offsetting 27 million tonnes in 2012.
Demand surged for carbon offsets from forestry projects certified to the Verified Carbon Standard and Climate
Community and Biodiversity Standards – many of them supporting avoided deforestation, tree planting, and
alternative livelihoods among the world’s rural poor communities. Voluntary buyers also funneled $80 million to
projects that distribute clean cookstoves and water filtration devices – that burn “clean” or not at all, thus reducing
greenhouse gas emissions while sparing households from harmful smoke inhalation.
“Sustainable development‐oriented projects continue to grow in popularity because of their multiple community
benefits,” says the report’s lead author and Ecosystem Marketplace Associate Director Molly Peters‐Stanley. “Those
at the forefront of this market are now considering how the international donor community could harness the same
certifications and programs to deliver these benefits at a much larger scale.”
Wind farms remained the single largest source of offsets, at 15.3 million tonnes – preferred by cash‐strapped
European buyers owing both to the credits’ familiarity and affordability at an average price of $3.3/tonne. Behind
wind projects, the second most popular offsets came from tree planting projects (9 million tonnes) which continued
to grow in popularity due to demand for tree planting credits from projects developed in every region of the world.
The report’s executive summary is available at this link: https://www.forest-trends.org/publications/maneuvering-the-mosaic-state-of-the-voluntary-carbon-markets-2013. The full report
will be made freely available at the same link in late June.
This research was produced in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance and was financially enabled by:
Santiago Climate Exchange (premium sponsor) and sponsors ClimateCare, Baker & McKenzie, EcoInvest, EcoPlanet
Bamboo, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Love the World, and the Forest Carbon Group AG.
Other industry supporters also include the American Carbon Registry, BioCarbon Group, Bloomberg, BP Target
Neutral, First Climate, South Pole Carbon Asset Management, The CarbonNeutral Company, and the Verified Carbon