The study, “Carbon Offsetting Trends Survey 2008,” sampled 65 companies across industries about their attitudes towards offsets and what steps they’re taking to improve their environmental performance.

Among the findings are that only 23 percent of enterprises responding have not yet developed a carbon offset strategy, and that only 4 percent said they would never consider carbon offsets as part of an environmental strategy.

“What is extremely encouraging about this research is to see how seriously corporations are taking the issue of climate change, and how proactive many of them are being in developing long-term strategies to minimize their carbon impact,” said Lisa Ashford, EcoSecurities Europe’s Head of Commercialization. “In addition, the survey shows that the voluntary carbon market is becoming much more transparent in terms of pricing, preferred project types and locations of offset projects. Corporate buyers wishing to offset have come a long way up the learning curve in the last year which is a very positive sign for the future development of the market.”

The survey is notable for being among the first to explore the voluntary carbon market from a buyer’s perspective, and as a result provides some insight into how the market is growing, changing and adapting to demand from companies.

When asked what types of offset projects are most desirable, the vast majority — 96.7 percent — rated energy efficiency projects as desirable or highly desirable; wind, renewable biomass and agricultural and landfill gas-capture projects also rated above 80 percent in desirability. The project types rated as least desirable were large-scale hydroelectricity, forestry and avoided deforestation projects, and industrial gas destruction projects.

These trends in desirable offset project types suggest that the voluntary market, which is still largely localized in the United States, leans towards easily understood and highly visible projects within the realm of “charismatic carbon.” As carbon regulations take shape in the coming months, notably through RGGI, WCI and California’s AB32, experts expect the market to shift to embrace more high-need and high-impact but lower-profile projects like industrial gas destruction.

The EcoSecurities / ClimateBiz survey also explores what companies are seeking in a carbon offset provider, the most- and least-desirable regions for offset projects, and which departments of a firm are involved in the offsetting process.