Voluntary carbon markets double in size, but ‘buyer beware’ still holds true

The voluntary carbon offset market doubled in size between 2007 and 2008 to $750m, according to a report (PDF) from New Carbon Finance and Ecosystems Marketplace, confirms that 123 million tonnes of carbon credits were bought and sold last year around the world. This is more than double the 2007 figures, of 65 million tonnes, worth $331 million. The average price for voluntary offset credits rose 20% to $7.34/tCO2 equivalent.

This is good news, of sorts. But the voluntary market is by far the smallest part of the carbon markets; in contrast the EU emissions trading scheme was worth $95bn in 2008. And, as the FT has previously reported, the voluntary market is the least well regulated, with offsets of very variable quality being sold in the past.

However quality does appear to be improving – New Carbon Finance and Ecosystem Marketplace emphasise that “more than 96% of offset credits were verified to a thirdparty standard in 2008.”

Related links:

Beware the carbon offsetting cowboys (FT, 25/04/07)
Guide to good carbon offsetting (FT, 25/04/07)