what are carbon markets

Safeguards for Carbon Markets – Prioritizing Local Communities’ Tenure Rights

What are carbon markets?


The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) defines carbon markets as trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought. Companies or individuals can use carbon markets to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits from entities that remove or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One tradable carbon credit equals one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas reduced, sequestered or avoided. When a credit is used to reduce, sequester, or avoid emissions, it becomes an offset and is no longer tradable.


The challenge


While carbon markets have the potential to reduce emissions and support a low-carbon transition, they face criticism for issues like questionable carbon offset projects, carbon leakage, market manipulation, transparency, pricing, and the potential impact on community land tenure rights. As global demand for voluntary carbon credits continues to grow, there is an urgent need to address these risks and protect the rights of local communities.


Securing Land Tenure in Carbon Markets: TMG’s efforts


TMG Research, at the Africa Climate Summit, emphasized the critical importance of safeguarding land tenure rights in carbon markets, particularly for women and in regions like Africa where land rights are at risk.

TMG is committed to tackling the risks that carbon markets pose to communities lacking tenure rights and aims to foster their active engagement in these markets.In this white paper, we explore prominent risks and strategies to empower communities as active participants in carbon markets. We aim to help them contribute to market management and reap benefits. This is achieved through four reflections:

  1. Land Tenure and Carbon Markets: Insecure land tenure in Africa risks rural livelihoods, carbon projects lack safeguards, impacting communities.
  2. Environmental Challenges in Carbon Offsets: Afforestation can harm biodiversity and ecosystems, carbon offset projects have concerns like leakage and permanence.
  3. Overstated Carbon Reductions in Forest Offsets: Forest offset projects exaggerate carbon savings, the credibility of carbon credits is in question.
  4. Questioning Carbon Credits: Carbon credits’ impact on emissions reduction is debated; Concerns about transparency and moral licensing; A reassessment of carbon market frameworks is needed to protect land rights and ensure moral legitimacy.


Author: Moritz Hauer, Washe Kazungu, Frederike Klümper

Publisher: TMG Think Tank; Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)

Language: English

Year: 2023

Ecosystem(s): Forests

Location(s): Global

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