Businesses warm to forest carbon offsets

European businesses and carbon markets have warmed to the concept of forest carbon offsets, according to a report from carbon market specialists Ecosecurities released on Tuesday 4 May

The forest carbon sector is one of the few tipped to benefit from early global agreement, in advance of the climate conference in Cancun, Mexico set for November 2010.

Ecosecurities’ findings reflect advances in negotiations over monitoring, reporting, verification and sustainability of forest offset project principles.

The survey covered 207 global, multinational and regional companies and specialised carbon offset trading companies. It revealed that nearly 80% of respondents had a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ attitude to forest offsets. In 2009, the equivalent figure was 58%. In Europe, there was a particularly sharp increase, from 36% to 84%.

More than half (54%) of European respondents are actively adding forest offsets to their overall offset portfolio, up from 13%.

The stringency of carbon standards remains the primary factor in buying credits for 89%. Location (84%), the ability of schemes to generate wider community benefits (83%) and project type (80%) were the next most cited factors. Three quarters (74%) favoured Latin American projects.

Biodiversity benefits are sought by 77%. Most looked for reforestation with native species, or for avoided deforestation projects.

Globally, well-regulated voluntary credits, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard are most popular. These are rated ‘desirable’ or ‘highly desirable’ by 73% and 64% respectively. Equivalent UN international offsets achieved only 53%.

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