Data and Insights

VCS Quarterly Update

Issue #3 - Q2/2020

We are pleased to share with you our quarterly update of information about project types, issuances, and retirements under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program. Up-to-date data and analysis will give buyers and sellers, as well as project developers and policymakers, important information, and we therefore started to provide these updates late last year (the inaugural issue covered Q4/2019).

We did want to mention that it can be difficult to identify trends based on quarterly data. This is even more true at this point in time when the coronavirus has completely reshaped life as we know it and has strongly impacted the global economy.

One question weighing on many people’s mind is how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting carbon offsetting, and whether it will result in decreased activity on the voluntary carbon markets. A look at the data shows that there is not yet a conclusive answer to that question.

Main Takeaways

So far, 2020 has been a roller-coaster year.

2020 got off to a huge start, with Q1 seeing record issuances. Q2, however, saw significantly fewer issuances (a 63% decline), but a deeper dive reveals some interesting facts. For example, both May and June 2020 saw the second-highest issuances when compared to the same months in previous years. In addition, the previous two quarters (Q1/2020 and Q4/2019) represented the largest volumes of VCU issuances historically, which means that they set an unusually high bar to be used in any comparison.

Project developers forging ahead with their work.

As of 30 June, there were 317 projects in the pipeline, an indicator that project developers and proponents alike have an optimistic outlook on market activity and their ability to sell issuances from their projects once they are registered.

Uptick in Non-AFOLU Issuances.

Q1 and Q2 of 2020 saw more non-AFOLU issuances than AFOLU issuances. This is a deviation from a trend we have seen since Q1 of 2017 where AFOLU issuances have been consistently higher than non-AFOLU issuances.

VCS Data and Insights – Q2/2020
Projects
1,966
total projects
1,649
projects registered
317
projects in the pipeline*
*A pipeline project is a project in the early phases of project development and implementation that is listed on the Verra registry and is currently undergoing or has completed its 30-day public comment period.
Summary Totals to Date
VCU ISSUANCES* (Total to Date)

*One VCU represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent that was removed from the atmosphere or not emitted.

Greenhouse gas equivalencies for emission reductions and removals were calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

461,903,620
VCUs
99,809,891
cars taken off the road
for a year
269,411,549 Non-AFOLU* VCUs
192,492,071 AFOLU* VCUs
123,732,288 AFOLU* VCUs with CCB Label**
Hover with your cursor over the bar to see what these emission reductions are equivalent to
*AFOLU – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use
**VCUs with the CCB label were issued by projects that are validated to the CCB Standards and have verified climate, community and biodiversity benefits for the same verification period in which the VCUs were generated.
AFOLU and Non-AFOLU Issuances Over Time
AFOLU Issuances
Non-AFOLU Issuances
Total Issuances
AFOLU Issuances
Non-AFOLU Issuances
Retirements to Date
VCUs that have been purchased and taken off the market forever; a retired VCU represents a carbon offset
274,782,031
VCUs
59,364,890
cars taken off the road
for a year
181,898,127 Non-AFOLU* VCUs
92,883,904 AFOLU* VCUs
39,419,291 AFOLU* VCUs with CCB Label**
*AFOLU – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use
**VCUs with the CCB label were issued by projects that are validated to the CCB Standards and have verified climate, community and biodiversity benefits for the same verification period in which the VCUs were generated.
Project-Specific Data
Projects by Region
Region Projects Percentage of Total
Asia 1,037 62.9%
North America 110 6.7%
South and Central America 248 15%
Oceania 8 0.5%
Africa 193 11.7%
Europe 53 3.2%
VCU Issuances by Region
Region VCUs Percentage of Total
Asia 260,668,452 56.4%
North America 28,618,648 6.2%
South and Central America 101,301,457 21.9%
Oceania 12,936,112 2.8%
Africa 50,475,030 10.9%
Europe 7,903,921 1.7%
AFOLU* Projects
by Region
Region Projects Percentage of Total
Asia 62 32.5%
North America 2 1%
South and Central America 64 33.5%
Oceania 12 6.3%
Africa 51 26.7%
AFOLU* VCU Issuances
by Region
Region VCUs Percentage of Total
Asia 53,153,802 23.4%
North America 5,546,867 2.4%
South and Central America 82,011,086 36.1%
Oceania 1,971,563 0.9%
Africa 49,808,753 21.9%
Europe 35,000,000 15.4%
*AFOLU – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use
AFOLU* Projects by Project Type
Type Projects Percentage of Total
WRC 1 0.5%
ALM 1 0.5%
REDD 76 41.3%
IFM 20 10.9%
ARR 86 46.7%
VCU Issuances by AFOLU* Project Type
Type VCUs Percentage of Total
WRC 17,843,711 9.3%
ALM 325,825 0.2%
REDD 156,923,226 81.5%
IFM 5,446,225 2.8%
ARR 11,953,084 6.2%
*AFOLU – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use

ALM – Agricultural Land Management
ARR – Afforestation, Reforestation and Revegation
IFM – Improved Forest Management
REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
WRC – Wetland Restoration and Conservation

Concluding Thoughts

While the information presented in this update leaves a number of questions open, we do have some clear indicators that, at least for the time being, the carbon markets seem to be robust. The reported number of VCUS issuances and projects in the pipeline are two important signals, as are the number of statements from leading companies (Shell, Delta Airlines, Amazon, Microsoft) reiterating their climate and sustainability commitments.