Voluntary Carbon Markets

Roman Synkevych

The voluntary carbon market (VCM) was formed with the aim of driving finance to activities that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In its early days, the market was characterized by pioneering new approaches for fighting climate change. Over time, the VCM has evolved and matured into a robust and effective means to tackle climate change by driving resources to projects which deliver independently verified and additional emissions reductions on a global scale.

The VCM also enables companies to achieve ambitious climate goals by complementing internal emission reductions – a necessary first step – with the purchase of carbon offsets. By the end of 2019, the market had achieved over 608 million tonnes of CO2e in emission reductions or removals, which is the equivalent of more than 131 million cars taken off the road for a year.

The below graphic and accompanying milestones illustrate the evolution of the voluntary carbon market.






Please click on the thumbnail to view this interactive graphic. Then, click on any of the milestones in the graphic to learn more. For more information click here.

Note: The milestones in this graphic are not meant to represent a complete and comprehensive history of the voluntary carbon market; instead, these milestones constitute significant actions at the regulatory, market, and standards level that are indicative of the advances the market has undergone at various stages.

Our Work

California Offset Project Registry

The Offset Project Registry (OPR) facilitates the participation of offset projects within the California cap-and-trade program

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Photo: Paul Vincent

Verified Carbon Standard

The VCS Program is the world’s leading voluntary program for the certification of GHG emission reduction projects

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Initiative for Climate Action Transparency

Supporting countries around the world in the evaluation of the climate, sustainable development and transformational impacts of their policies and actions 

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