Where can I buy VCUs?


A Verified Carbon Unit (VCU) represents one metric tonne of GHG emissions reduced or removed from the atmosphere. Unlike stocks and bonds, VCUs do not represent a claim on future revenue streams. Prices depend largely on demand for GHG emission reductions, whether from voluntary markets or from climate regulations.

It is important to remember that the VCS is not an investment firm, and as such, does not provide any direct advice on the purchase or trading of VCUs. Anyone wishing to transact VCUs should do their due diligence to be aware of all the risks associated with a given decision. Additionally, buyers should be particularly skeptical of sellers employing boiler room and "hard sell" tactics.  

There are a few key things to remember before buying VCUs:

  1. VCUs can be bought and sold in one-to-one, 'over-the-counter' transactions or on third-party exchanges.
  2. All VCUs are held in registry accounts linked to the VCS Project Database and can be tracked online from issuance to retirement. 
  3. Ownership of VCUs can only be legally transferred between VCS registry accounts, not via paper certificates or other mechanisms that do not rely on VCS registry accounts. 
  4. VCUs can be bought directly from projects, carbon aggregators, retailers or exchanges. Buyers may enter into one-to-one, ‘over-the-counter' transactions, forming their own agreements and conducting their own due diligence. Exchange transactions rely on standard contracts and electronic credit transfer and settlement.
  5. Buyers who want to demonstrate emission reductions, such as for carbon neutrality claims, should be sure to deal with a trusted seller and confirm VCUs are retired in their name.
  6. Those wishing to hold non-retired VCUs should open their own VCS registry account or work through an approved custodian to ensure they have legal title to all credits.
  7. Carbon retailers are not yet regulated by government authorities like the FSA or SEC.

VCS does not buy or sell carbon credits, nor track prices or sales. A good source of free information is the Ecosystem Marketplace annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets. Those interested in finding a trusted seller should contact an organization adhering to codes of conduct such as those listed by:

  • Green-e Climate: a non-profit that monitors and certifies carbon retail transactions and products.
  • ICROA/IETA: a voluntary association of carbon sellers who follow a code of good practice. Members submit audited reports.