It’s been a bumper year for the voluntary carbon market — corporate commitments are up, 70% more credits have been retired so far this year vs. last year, and developments in decentralized finance are setting the stage for an exciting 2022. We crunched the numbers to highlight the winners and losers of the year — at least in terms of the number of credits retired.
There are many ways to gauge interest in a project, and the metric we are using are credits retired — it’s not the perfect system as credits may have been bought from a project but not yet retired, but overall it’s a decent proxy. It’s also the data that’s publicly available, so it allows us to make clear comparisons of how well projects have done this year vs. last year. (To keep the data consistent, we’re comparing the numbers from January 1 to December 14, 2020 against the same time frame in 2021.)
The Nice List
These are the projects, sectors, countries, and registries that have seen the biggest rises in credits retired so far this year.
The project that saw the biggest rise in the number of credits retired is… 29.70 MW Wind Power project in Karnataka India!
The project retired only 1 credit in 2020, and 270,000 in 2021, driven by decentralized finance interest from KlimaDAO. That single credit last year was retired by Grupo CIMD for its emissions in 2019.
The project that had the biggest rise among those projects with at least 1000 credits retired in 2020 was Biocorredor Martin Sagrado REDD+ Project, which retired over 240,000 tons of carbon so far this year — with Ben & Jerry’s and Chanel among its customers.
The registry that saw the biggest rise in the number of credits retired is… Verra!
The registry has passed the 115m tCO2e retired mark, up ~80% from last year’s 64m amount.
Forestry projects overtook renewables this year on Verra, with over 60m tCO2e retired so far in 2021 (28m in 2020), versus 49m tCO2e retired from renewables projects (33m in 2020).
The country that saw the biggest rise in the number of credits retired is… Nigeria!
After retiring almost no credits in 2020, projects in Nigeria retired 200,000+ this year. More accurately, Gold Standard’s CORSIA-eligible Promoting Improved Cooking Practices in Nigeria is, by our count, the only project currently recording any retirement activity in the country, making up all of the credits retired in 2020 and 2021.
The Naughty List
Even in a market that’s growing rapidly, not everyone is going to win out. Here are the project, registry, and country losing out in 2021.
A number of projects have retired credits last year, but none this year — we’ll assume that they’ve sold out their inventory and haven’t issued any new ones. From those that have retired at least one credit this year, the one that had the biggest drop is… Reforestation of Degraded Land in Chhattisgarh, India.
The project retired 19,000+ tCO2e in 2020, but only a measly 4 tons in 2021. It does have 10,000+ tons of carbon remaining, but the vast majority of that is from 2005 and 2007 vintages — not the easiest sale!
The registry with the biggest drop this year has been… Climate Action Reserve, down 28% against last year’s retirements (5.1m tCO2 in 2020 vs. 3.7m in 2021).
Neither of the US registries have fared well, with both down vs. retirements this year. One bright spot for CAR — Agriculture projects retired 130,000+ tCO2e in 2021, against 78,000 tCO2e in 2020.
The country with the biggest drop this year has been… Mongolia, down 95% this year. (Among countries whose projects retired at least 1,000 tCO2e in 2021.)
The main culprit for this is 50 MW Tsetsii Wind Farm in Mongolia, which retired 170,000 tCO2e last year, but just over 1,000 tCO2e so far this year. A CORSIA-eligible project, I’m betting things will turn around for it in 2022.
For those on the nice list — 2021 has certainly been a year to remember. For those on the naughty list — the good news is that there are still two weeks in the year to make your mark!
For more data on voluntary carbon markets, check out our dashboard demo here.
The 2021 Naughty and Nice List of Carbon Offsetting was originally published in AlliedCrowds on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.