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US Largest Carbon Credit Buyer in 2009

The U.S. was the largest buyer of voluntary carbon credits last year, according to a new report released by Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However, total voluntary carbon transactions dropped by 26 percent, according to the report. The total value of traded credits declined 47 percent to $387 million in 2009 and the average price of an emission reduction was $6.5/tCO2e.

Although the economic downturn reduced offset purchasing for corporate social responsibility, the report notes significant growth in the pre-compliance segment of the voluntary markets.

The survey found a near doubling in the use of independent, third-party “registries,” which track ownership of offsets so that individual emission reductions are not counted twice. The survey identified 17 registries accounting for 51 percent of all voluntary offset transactions last year, while just 29 percent of transactions were listed with registries in 2008. The survey attributes the growth in registry uptake largely to the emergence of multiple registries spread across different regions.

The most popular project types were those that destroy methane – a greenhouse gas that traps more than 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. These projects stand a good chance of being grandfathered into a US compliance scheme, and they accounted for 41 percent of voluntary offset transactions in 2009. Forestry projects were next, at 24 percent, followed by renewable energy projects, at 17 percent. The US took the lead from Asia this year as the source of the vast majority of offset credits (56 percent),

followed by Latin America (16 percent) and Asia (12 percent).

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