What are Carbon Markets ?

Glasgow Summit 2021



Carbon Markets: Carbon markets facilitate the trading of emission reductions. Such a market allows countries, or industries, to earn carbon credits for the emission reductions they make in excess of their targets. These carbon credits can be traded to the highest bidder in exchange of money. The buyers of carbon credits can show the emission reductions as their own and use them to meet their reduction targets. Carbon markets are considered a very important and effective instrument to reduce overall emissions.



A carbon market existed under Kyoto Protocol but is no longer there because the Protocol itself expired last year. A new market under Paris Agreement is yet to become functional. Developing countries like India, China or Brazil have large amounts of carbon credits left over because of the lack of demand as many countries abandoned their emission reduction targets. The developing countries wanted their unused carbon credits to be transitioned to the new market, something that the developed nations had been opposing on the grounds that the quality of these credits — the question whether these credits represent actual emission reductions — was a suspect. A deadlock over this had been holding up the finalisation of the rules and procedures of the Paris Agreement.


The Glasgow Pact has offered some reprieve to the developing nations. It has allowed these carbon credits to be used in meeting countries’ first NDC targets. These cannot be used for meeting targets in subsequent NDCs. That means, if a developed country wants to buy these credits to meet its own emission reduction targets, it can do so till 2025. Most countries have presented climate targets for 2025 in their first NDCs.

The resolution of the deadlock over carbon markets represents one of the major successes of COP26.