State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2009: Fortifying the Foundation

Executive Summary

This report was created to answer fundamental questions about the voluntary carbon markets such as transaction volumes, credit prices, project types, locations, and the motivations of buyers in this market. Over the past several years, these markets have not only become an opportunity for citizen consumer action, but also an alternative source of carbon finance and an incubator for carbon market innovation. As the voluntary carbon markets have rapidly gained traction, the answers, to these questions have become increasingly important to investors, policymakers, and environmentalists alike. For example, since the last edition of this report, we have seen various U.S. climate bills make reference to voluntary carbon offset standards, the Japanese government launch a voluntary carbon-offsetting scheme, and the U.K. government issue an official definition of “carbon neutral.”

Proving the legitimacy of carbon offset projects remains a major issue in the marketplace, leading to a so-called “flight to quality.” Last year saw further establishment and greater functionality of voluntary offset standards; the emergence of new registries; the forging of new partnerships between infrastructure providers; the formation of coalitions to encourage self-regulation; and increased market transparency. At the same time, existing and potential voluntary market consumers became more sophisticated as literature and education around offset quality increased. All of this points to a further maturation of the market in 2008. However, the voluntary carbon markets, like any other commodity market, were not immune to the over-arching forces of the economy and regulatory developments.

In this report we outline the aggregated results of our survey of the state of the voluntary carbon markets in 2008. For the analysis of the “over-the-counter” (OTC) side of the voluntary carbon markets, we obtained data from over 182 suppliers from 28 different countries involving all stages of the supply chain: developers, aggregators, brokers, and retailers. This report is based on the information collected from these suppliers. Hence, numbers throughout this report may not contain every single OTC transaction in the marketplace and should be considered conservative. Alternatively, all data on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) was obtained directly from the exchange and hence presents a greater degree of completeness.

This report is published by Ecosystem Marketplace &
Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Please download the full report for more detailed analysis.

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BloombergNEF (BNEF) is a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets and the disruptive technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our expert coverage assesses pathways for the power, transport, industry, buildings and agriculture sectors to adapt to the energy transition. We help commodity trading, corporate strategy, finance and policy professionals navigate change and generate opportunities.
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