REDD+, CORSIA and California Carbon Offsets — Understanding the Differences

The commitment to carbon neutrality continues to grow as corporations and jurisdictions chart a course for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Voluntary REDD+ Credits, CORSIA eligible offsets and California Carbon Offsets provide a variety of opportunities for emissions reductions, but a lack of transparent pricing makes it difficult for companies to trade fairly and secure project financing.

The groundbreaking OPIS Global Carbon Offsets Report solves this problem by providing daily price assessments for Voluntary REDD+ Credits, CORSIA Eligible Offsets and California Carbon Offsets. Each of these offsets markets have unique price fundamentals that are driven by specific industries and jurisdictions.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the history and market of each credit.

Which carbon credit is right for your company?
Voluntary REDD+

Voluntary REDD+ credits aim to fight climate change by protecting forests. REDD stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation” and the + refers to the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The initiative was introduced by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2007 and finalized at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. Voluntary REDD+ Credits go towards site-based activities that do not involve deforestation and promote conservation and sustainability, particularly in developing nations.

The majority of offset credits for REDD+ projects are certified and issued through the Verra registry and many also meet the additional Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards. These credits are typically considered to have a relatively high quality, ideal for entities who support nature-based solutions for offsetting carbon and project co-benefits, such as preservation and increased quality of life for local populations.

When it comes to nature-based projects, REDD+ credits are typically priced stronger than most other forestry offset credit types, like afforestation or improved forest management. On the other hand, REDD+ credits are usually cheaper than offsets from more niche projects, such as mangroves restoration designated as Blue Carbon.

The price of REDD+ credits have strengthened this year in line with additional demand from corporations with net-zero emission goals.

Average pricing for OPIS Voluntary REDD+ Credits for vintages 2013-2021 began this year at a range of $5-$6.58/mt, and those vintages are currently pricing up to 20% stronger around $5.55-$7.91/mt.


CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is designed to reduce the environmental impact of international flights. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN specialized agency, introduced CORSIA in 2016. International aircraft operators in the 104 participating states have pledged to become carbon neutral from 2020 onward. Airlines must purchase CORSIA-eligible carbon offsets (CEO) for all carbon emissions that exceed their 2019 emission levels. The program is currently in a pilot phase and is voluntary for participants until 2024.

The following registries are approved to issue credits for use under CORSIA:

  • American Carbon Registry
  • Architecture for REDD+ Transactions
  • China GHG Voluntary Emission Reduction Program
  • Clean Development Mechanism
  • Climate Action Reserve
  • Global Carbon Council
  • GSF Impact Registry
  • Verra

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the airline industry also affected CORSIA. In the original agreement, the emissions baseline was based on those in 2020. This was adjusted to 2019 in response to the 60% drop in international passenger traffic in 2020 (ICAO, 2021). An additional 16 countries joined the program this year, but dismal airline industry participation in the CORSIA-eligible offset credit markets has been greatly overshadowed by an influx of non-airline entities.

The relatively cheap CORSIA-eligible credits are considered to be of a medium quality – attractive features for the trading companies, financial players and brokers that flooded the market this year. These types of credits have also become a favorite of traditional oil and gas companies, which retire credits to create carbon neutral products.

This year, the OPIS CEO price assessment has increased more than six-fold to about $4.84/mt as of mid-August.

California Carbon Offsets (CCO)

California Carbon Offsets (CCO) are designed for companies subject to the California Cap-and-Trade Program. Launched in 2013, the program covers greenhouse gas emissions from entities that emit 25,000 or more metric tons of CO2 per year. The program’s total emission cap decreases each year, incentivizing companies to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in cleaner technologies. Under the program’s rules, these entities can buy credits to meet up to 4% of their emissions compliance obligations.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulates credits for the Cap-and-Trade program. CARB works with three registries:

  • American Carbon Registry
  • Climate Action Reserve
  • Verra

Credits issued to these registries must be converted to ARB Offset Credits, which are then issued to ARB-approved projects. At least half of these credits must be from projects that directly benefit the state of California (DEBS products).

The price of Golden CCOs, which cannot be invalidated by CARB, have increased about $3.17/mt since mid-2016, when OPIS commenced assessments. In June 2016, the price was 11.63/mt, while in mid-August it reached $14.80/mt, according to OPIS carbon price history.

Benchmark pricing solutions for voluntary carbon markets are now available with the OPIS Global Carbon Offsets Report. Now you can manage carbon neutrality commitments with access to compliance and voluntary offsets markets pricing, real-time news and in-depth analysis. To see for yourself, download a free, sample report by following the link below:


Tags: Carbon