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Voluntary carbon markets plunge in 2009

Battered by a faltering world economy and lack of progress on U.S. climate legislation, voluntary carbon markets declined by nearly every measure in 2009, according to the fourth annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Market Report issued today by Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The report recorded a 26 percent drop in transactions (to 94 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions), a 47 percent fall in the total value of traded credits (to $387 million), and an 11 percent decline in the average price of an emission reduction (to $6.50/tCO2e).

“The economic recession had a marked impact on the part of the market primarily concerned with buying credits to offset emissions of companies and individuals,” Milo Sjardin, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Director and report co-author, said in a statement.

global voluntary carbon market by volume 2007-2009

The report found that U.S. was the dominant player in voluntary carbon markets in 2009, accounting for 56 percent of supply and 49 percent of demand. The U.S. displaced Asia as the largest source of offsets.

“Expectations of a possible US carbon trading program lifted the importance of the US, which figured as the largest buyer and seller in the market and the most popular transactions were those that could count towards future compliance,” said Sjardin. “However, with the current state of play of US politics this situation is likely to be very different this year.”

Latin America (16 percent) and Asia (12 percent) were second and third in market share.

The report found the most popular emissions reductions projects were those that mitigate methane emissions (41 percent of total voluntary projects). Forestry projects accounted for 24 percent market share, followed by renewable energy projects at 17 percent.

global voluntary carbon market by dollar value 2007, 2008, 2009

Katherine Hamilton, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace Director and report co-author, said that while the market got hit in 2009, voluntary markets “continued to evolve” and move toward a “more efficent and transparent” infrastructure.

CITATION: Katherine Hamilton, Milo Sjardin, Molly Peters‐Stanley and Thomas Marcello. Building Bridges: State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2010. A Report by Ecosystem Marketplace &
Bloomberg New Energy Finance. June 2010.

Download the Executive Summary [PDF] | Download the Full Report [PDF]

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