Trove’s Updated Carbon Industry Classification

Trove’s Updated Carbon Industry Classification

Trove’s new project classification provides a comprehensive and granular picture of the entire voluntary carbon market by classifying circa 4,000 registered projects and 2,600 pipeline projects across the major crediting registries.


A large and expanding number of greenhouse gas reducing / removing activities can become a registered project that issues carbon credits. These range from reforestation in Uruguay, to distributing cookstoves in Malawi to building a wind farm in Turkey.  This diversity of project types is a core strength of the voluntary carbon market, which allows corporates to help finance these projects and in return claim the emissions reductions against their own commitments.

Against this breadth of project activity buyers of carbon credits have differing needs. For example, nature-based solutions are desired for supporting natural ecosystems and some buyers are keen to focus on projects that remove CO₂ from the atmosphere rather than prevent it being released. Moreover, traders and index providers need to aggregate projects into broad categories to create standard contracts that can act as market reference prices.

All this requires a robust system for classifying carbon credit projects. The Trove Research Carbon Industry Classification, or TR CIC, has been developed over several years for this purpose.  This note explains the most recent updates to the Trove CIC.

Classification update

The updated TR CIC is shown in Table 1. This is now applied to over 6,500 projects published on all our Trove Intelligence dashboard and all our analytical reports.

The main updates are as follows:

(i) Addition of a third-level of project classification (e.g., Energy Demand Reduction is now split into Domestic Demand and Industrial/Commercial Demand Reduction projects, and Solar is split into Large-scale and Small-scale Solar projects). The addition of this third level classification also allows us to more accurately tag projects as reductions or removals;

(ii) Broadening of our old CCUS category into Carbon Engineering, which now more clearly incorporates new and emerging carbon removal technologies such as direct air capture, biochar and enhanced rock weathering.

(iii) Creation of new Peatlands and Blue & Coastal Carbon sub-types under the Nature Restoration project type, both of which have generated substantial interest this year.

Current market structure

Trove’s new project classification provides a comprehensive and granular picture of the entire voluntary carbon market by classifying circa 4,000 registered projects and 2,600 pipeline projects across the major crediting registries.

As shown in Figure 1, in terms of project numbers, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency are the most common project type, each accounting for 31% of all projects. Renewable Energy projects make up 37% of all registered projects but only 23% of projects in the pipeline. Energy Efficiency projects instead saturate the pipeline where they represent 41% of projects.

Only 1,019, or 16%, of all projects are nature-based (that is, our Nature Restoration and REDD+ project types). Just under half of these are pipeline projects, and half of those have only entered the registry pipelines in the last 6 months.

A different picture of which project types are most prevalent emerges when looking at issuance volumes instead of numbers of projects. As of 30 September 2022, some 1,605Mt of credits had been issued across the four main registries since 2000. 43% of all these credits have come from nature-based projects (split roughly 50-50 REDD+ and Nature Restoration). Renewable Energy projects are the next most prevalent project type accounting for 32% (508Mt). Energy Efficiency projects are much less prominent on an issuance volumes basis, having issued 132Mt to date, only 8% of all credits to date.


When looking at just the four major crediting registries (Verra, Gold Standard, CAR and ACR) very few projects are focused on emerging removal technologies – only 14 of the 6,500 registered and pipeline projects. Currently most of these project types are held on other smaller registries. For example, PuroEarth, has 37 Carbon Engineering projects, of which 24 are Biochar. Given the high expectations for these newer removal technologies (and the reliance various bodies such as SBTi place on them in corporate net zero strategies) we expect these numbers will increase.


Table 1: Trove Research’s updated carbon industry classification

Please visit to view our regularly published, freely available market reports and comment pieces. We make a simple dashboard that categorises carbon credit issuances and retirements across the four main crediting registries freely available to all. Trove Intelligence subscribers have access to a much more sophisticated dashboard, covering a larger number of registries, and many additional filters, data fields and analyses.

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