The increase is positive news for a carbon market that has seen prices plummet lately. The 2012’s voluntary players paid a volume-weighted average price of USD 5.9 per ton according to the market-wide survey, State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report by Forest Trend’s Ecosystem Marketplace
Although slightly down from 2011 of USD 6.2 per ton it is significantly higher than the United Nations’ regulatory carbon offset price at less than USD 1 per ton.
Forestry and cook stoves
The most popular voluntary offsets projects were planting trees, saving tropical forests or distributing clean cook stoves in the developing world.
Demand surged for carbon offsets from forestry projects certified to the Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards.
With 8.8 million tons CO2 in total forestry was the second most popular offset method, many of them supporting avoided deforestation, tree planting and alternative livelihoods among the world’s rural poor communities.
Voluntary buyers also funneled USD 80 million to projects that distribute clean efficient cook stoves and water filtration devices – that burn “clean” or not at all, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions while sparing households from harmful smoke inhalation.
Wind farms remained the single largest source of offsets, at 15.3 million tons – preferred by cash-strapped European buyers owing both to the credits’ familiarity and affordability at an average price of USD 3.3 per ton.
According to the report, one-third of all offsets purchased for voluntarily end use were done so to “demonstrate climate leadership” in the buyers’ respective industries – while traditional corporate social responsibility was behind another 42 percent of voluntary offset transactions.
Multinational corporations were responsible for over a quarter of all offset demand, offsetting 27 million tons in 2012.