The voluntary carbon offsets market: an analysis of market characteristics and opportunities for sustainable development

A global carbon market has evolved in the wake of negotiations for the United Nations Kyoto Protocol. A number of distinct markets are encompassed within its remit, including a voluntary retail arm. Although the voluntary retail market is very small in comparison to other segments, it has large growth potential as it can extend to countries, customer groups and technologies not embraced by the existing compliance regime. This paper examines the structure and dynamics of the voluntary retail carbon market and in light of these findings considers the future developments and implications of this market for sustainable development.