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Exploring the market for voluntary carbon offsets

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This report explores the potential for financing these small-scale high-benefit projects through the voluntary and retail sector of the carbon market with a view to answering the
following questions:
1) How does the voluntary and retail sector fit into the overall carbon market?
2) Who are the main buyers and sellers in the market?
3) What motivates buyers to voluntarily purchase carbon offsets?
4) What are buyers’ main concerns and considerations?
5) How much are buyers willing to pay for offsets and in what quantities?
6) How can the market for voluntary / retail offsets be further developed?
Research consisted of interviewing offset retailers and buyers from the private sector, government, and non-profit sector as well as reviews of existing literature.
The report provides an overview of the carbon markets followed by an in-depth look into the voluntary and retail markets. It includes a discussion of some of the associated issues and controversies, attempting to present a balanced view of both sides of the argument. Several buyers and retailers are also profiled in some detail. The final section explores the factors that are driving demand and what could be done to further develop the market. This report is not designed to be an economic analysis or a policy paper. Its objective is to gather and consolidate information on the voluntary and retail sectors in a manner that could 1) be useful for potential buyers to better understand the market and 2) be useful for those on the supply side as a starting point for discussions on strategies for further developing the market.

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