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Ahead of the Curve

Companies, governments, and individuals voluntarily spent just under $4.5 billion on conservation and clean energy over the past decade by purchasing nearly 1 billion carbon offsets, finds a new report released on the sidelines of this week’s international climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The Forest Trends Ecosystem Marketplace report, Ahead of the Curve: State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2015, demonstrates that voluntary demand for carbon offsets – each representing a one-tonne reduction in greenhouse gases that compensates for emissions elsewhere – is impactful well beyond the markets’ relatively small size.

The voluntary markets have served as the testing ground for compliance carbon pricing programs all over the globe. South Africa, for example, will allow offsets generated under two well-known voluntary carbon market standards when the country implements its carbon tax in 2016. The forestry, ozone-depleting substances, and coal and livestock methane offset projects now eligible for California’s carbon cap-and-trade program have their roots in the voluntary markets.

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