Voluntary offset buyers’ list of preferred project types in 2012 was strikingly similar to trends tracked in 2011, with credits from wind energy projects again on top – their popularity attributed to affordability, ready availability, and simplicity, according to the Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013, report. Voluntary offset buyers also sought a large volume of offsets from projects that distribute clean cookstoves and water filtration devices – that burn “clean” or not at all, thus reducing carbon emissions while sparing households from harmful smoke inhalation.
More traditional project types – from wind energy to fuel switching – rounded out a mosaic of mitigation activities implemented in the largest number of countries ever tracked in this report series. A total of 15.3 MtCO2e of wind project-based offsets were transacted from projects in both developing countries (China and India) and the United States.
The volume of transacted wind offsets fell 35% from 2011. Demand for forestry and land use activities grew, on the other hand, as voluntary support for afforestation/reforestation projects climbed once more to a transacted volume of 8.8 MtCO2e.
Meanwhile, demand for credits from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) fell by 8% to 6.8 MtCO2e in 2012. Even so,the volume of credits contracted from REDD projects that are or aspire to be certified to both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards more than doubled – as demand for this combination of certifications grew market-wide.
At the receiving end of this global effort, offset buyers in Europe and North America expanded their offset programs in order to “demonstrate climate leadership” even as both regions struggle to implement or maintain a meaningful carbon price signal. Where governments have included offset provisions within their broader climate regulations, demand ranged from steady (in California) to growing (in Australia) as companies prepared for compliance.