What is a carbon credit worth?

Though every carbon credit represents one tonne of CO2 equivalent, you may have seen a range of prices for these credits. Prices range for a variety of factors:

  • Integrity of the standard its certified against
  • Value associated with the beyond-climate sustainable development benefits delivered 
  • Preferences for different project types or geographies and associated supply and demand dynamics
  • Costs required to plan, implement and monitor a project

Read more about how pricing is approached.

Gold Standard recommends using the Fairtrade carbon credit pricing model as a guide for minimum prices. For carbon credits sold through the Gold Standard website, we started with the Fairtrade minimum price and adjusted upwards to account for the value created by additional sustainable development benefits delivered by different types of projects beyond simply reducing carbon.

Carbon offsetting projects operate on a results-based finance model. This means that the project developer takes on all the financial risk and makes the initial investment required to develop and certify the project. Once their project impacts have been independently verified and certified, the project is issued with carbon credits. The sale of these credits enables project developers to recoup costs, repay loans, and maintain and expand the project activity. This ‘payment for performance’ approach provides those supporting the project (e.g. purchasing carbon credits) with the highest assurance that the outcomes have been achieved.


If you would like to know more about where your money goes, here are some questions to ask your supplier: 

  • Where do the proceeds of your purchase go?
  • How much money goes to the actual project developer versus the seller of the credits (if it’s not the same organisation)?
  • Does the project report on how proceeds from carbon credit sales are used?
  • Can you see your purchase tracked transparently in a public registry?