Forest Carbon Prices and Market Developments

Alexander Watson by OpenForests
3 min readMar 8, 2021


More and more corporates pledging to become climate-neutral. After analyzing your emissions, reducing emissions where possible you need to purchase carbon credits to compensate for unavoidable emissions. But, what are the average prices for voluntary carbon credits? What are the standards according to which carbon can be certified? Ecosystem Marketplace and Forest Trends conducting a regular survey on carbon prices and traded volumes.

This is an excerpt from State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2020

The voluntary forest carbon market in the sector of forestry and land-use developed between 2017–2019 with the following values.

Volume and prices between 2017–2019

Average price and volume by Voluntary Carbon Credit Standards, 2019

Volume and prices by carbon credit standard
  • The number of companies making climate-neutral or net-zero pledges has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Total reported transaction volume topped 104 MtCO2e in 2019 (the most recent year for which total volume data is available).
  • 74 percent of the respondents indicated that they had buyers lined up for some portion, if not all, of their carbon credits before the credits were issued. This indicates that the supply side is receiving strong demand signals.
  • United States, France, and the United Kingdom emerged as the most common buyer locations. US buyers showed a preference for homegrown offsets.
  • Buyers, in France, the UK, and Germany largely purchased offsets from Peru, Brazil, and India.
  • VCS verifies the vast majority of traded REDD+ credits which are typically larger-volume transactions and often receive lower prices than other Forestry and Land-use credits. Gold Standard and Plan Vivo are likely earning a higher price per tone due in part to their focus on smaller volume transactions with greater co-benefits.
  • In 2019, the majority of offsets transacted were from 2015.


State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2020, Second Installment Featuring Core Carbon & Additional Attributes Offset Prices, Volumes and Insights. Washington DC: Forest Trends Association, December 2020.

Founder and CEO, OpenForests. Passioned about finding answers to the burning questions of our time. With our tools, we want to connect people and forests.

Originally published at on March 8, 2021.



Alexander Watson by OpenForests

Founder and CEO of Information systems to improve forest management for people and nature.