The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) set guidelines for the voluntary carbon market, creating the conditions for this critical market to grow and thrive. Even before COP26, voluntary carbon markets already posted an almost 60% increase in value from the prior year; the “State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets” predicts that transactions on the voluntary carbon market will exceed $1 billion in 2021. Saving and restoring carbon-rich ecosystems can be confidently executed through large-scale reforestation programs, efforts to reverse land degradation, and other innovative nature-based solutions, in coordination and support of indigenous communities.

The tradable unit on the voluntary carbon market is a carbon credit, which is equal to one ton of CO2 kept in the ground or removed from the atmosphere. The most valued mechanism for delivering these tradable credits is through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects in developing countries. REDD+ projects engage in forest conservation, production of renewable energy, and other activities designed to support and protect local ecosystems, and are certified to issue a specified number of carbon credits. The credits can then be sold to companies seeking to “off-set” their carbon emissions. In a virtuous cycle, the revenues from these sales finance the forest protection project work.

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