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Snapshot of the Carbon Sequestration Certification Market Ecosystem


  • Arcusa, Stephanie
  • Sprenkle-Hyppolite, Starry


Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and carbon sequestration will be necessary to fulfill the hundreds of pledges to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. As with any industry, standard methodologies and certification are crucial to guarantee successful, equitable, and safe activities. However, buyers currently face challenges in evaluating their purchases of “carbon sequestration certificates”. The issue is not with CDR itself, nor with individual certifications – some of which may be very robust – but with the lack of transparency in the market ecosystem for buyers to understand what they are getting and therefore the risk that they are buying low quality. To bring some clarity, we present a snapshot of the carbon sequestration certification market ecosystem. We find an overly complex ecosystem with at least 20 standard developing organizations proposing at least 66 standard methodologies for carbon sequestration from 13 different types of approaches and selling 19 different versions of certificates in voluntary and compliance markets. A targeted evaluation of the certificates' stipulated duration reveals unequal meaning of the word “permanent” with ascribed durations ranging from 15 years to beyond 100 years. This mapping exercise reveals many more existing standards for nature-based than for engineering-based approaches and more diversity from standards serving the voluntary than the compliance market but also highlights a proliferation of standards for the same approach, false equivalence between certificates in terms of stipulated duration of storage, and a plethora of approaches without standards. This mapping highlights key gaps and potential starting points to target reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Arcusa, Stephanie & Sprenkle-Hyppolite, Starry, 2022. "Snapshot of the Carbon Sequestration Certification Market Ecosystem," OSF Preprints fu59w, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:osfxxx:fu59w
    DOI: 10.31219/

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