3 Steps to Sell Carbon Credits: Make Money Saving the Planet!

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | October 23, 2022

A tree with the leaves in the shape of money

Protecting our planet from the ravages of climate change is perhaps the most important challenge our species has faced. But fortunately for the ecologically minded (and everyone), saving the planet doesn’t have to mean going broke in the process. If you’re wondering how to sell tree planting carbon offsets, and actually make money while saving the planet, then you’ve come to the right place.

What’s in This Carbon Trading Guide

In this step-by-step guide, we’re going to teach you how to sell carbon credits. We’re also going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about selling carbon credits online, including:

  • How do you sell carbon credits?
  • Are there carbon credits for farmers?
  • What is a ‘carbon trade’ in the stock market?
  • Carbon credits vs. carbon offsets: Is there a difference?
  • I want to sell carbon credits: Where do I Start?

Start Here: What Is Carbon Trading?

If you’re buying, selling, or trading carbon offsets, then you’re in the carbon trading game. This is just like any other commodities exchange, like buying shares on the stock market. But instead of shares in a company, you are trading for carbon credits.

It’s also good to know your current carbon emissions, use an ecological footprint calculator today.

Carbon credits are sometimes known informally as carbon offsets. However, they’re not always the same thing. But in both cases, the money used to buy these credits is used to “cancel out” the non-renewable aspect of our most common resources. For larger businesses, and utility companies in particular, carbon credits can be earned by reducing the operation’s carbon footprint. These credits can then be sold or traded to other companies for a profit.

Q: How Do I Sell Carbon Offsets as an American? (Non-commercial)

American companies and individuals who want to trade likely operate through the California Cap-And-Trade Program. However, there are a growing number of small, voluntary credit markets that are starting to emerge (more on that in a bit).

How to Buy and Sell Carbon Offsets

Buying and selling carbon credits is a fairly simple process conducted by individuals or companies. But like other markets, the price and value of these credits can fluctuate wildly based on supply, demand, project type, and various other factors.

Most buyers and sellers choose to use a carbon trading platform (see next section for details). These platforms make it easier for everyone to negotiate prices, so all can benefit financially from reducing carbon footprint.

How Carbon Selling Works

Carbon markets make it possible for companies to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions and make some money in the process. This is essentially a cash-incentive for saving the planet, which many economists and ecologists alike agree is the real key to environmental success. Like other stocks and commodities, carbon credits and offsets can be traded on a number of primary platforms. These include:

  • European Climate Exchange (ECX)1
  • European Energy Exchange (EEX)2
  • NASDAQ Climate Exchange (ECX)3

Smaller businesses and individuals can also sell carbon offsets as a way to fund their project. In the next section, we’ll look at how you can sell carbon offsets to make money yourself.

Selling Carbon Credits Online

If your business, non-profit, or enterprise is actively reducing the amount of greenhouse emissions, then it’s possible to turn your efforts into valuable funding. Selling carbon credits online is something that anyone can do. Like other markets, it’s usually about buying low and selling high.

The hardest part about buying and selling carbon credits online is knowing which company to run the transactions through. Organizations like Brokers Carbon or online markets like the Carbon Trade Exchange are a good place to start.

Q: Can I Sell Carbon Credits Internationally?

In many cases, it is possible to sell carbon credits over international borders. As it currently stands, there aren’t a whole lot of restrictions or regulations in place when it comes to carbon offsets. Having said that, you should always do some research into the specific carbon market where you’re buying credits. For example, some European credit markets have regulations in place that would make some American-bought credits ineligible.

How to Get Carbon Credits

Generally speaking, for every one metric ton of CO2 that is captured, reduced, avoided, or destroyed, one carbon credit is created.

Companies that do a good, verifiable job of eliminating CO2 emissions can earn a large number of credits and then sell them on the market. This provides a valuable way to fund those energy projects, or even earn a healthy profit.

Meanwhile, companies that are emitting more greenhouse gases can purchase credits to offset their emissions. This is an opportunity for companies and individuals who don’t have access to green initiatives to still operate on a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative basis. In other words, they can exchange these credits for carbon pollution that they can’t avoid.

3 Steps For Businesses and Individuals: How to Get Paid for Carbon Credits and How to Buy Carbon Credits

If your business is doing its part to help fight climate change, then there might be a big financial opportunity for you. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to getting paid for carbon credits:

1. Choose an Exchange to Trade On. We listed some of the biggest global markets above. For Americans, the most popular forest carbon market is the California Cap-And-Trade Program.4

2. Learn the Rules and Regulations of the Program. Most programs have carbon thresholds for who can participate, which is why smaller landowners sometimes “pool” their carbon offsets together in order to trade on the open market.

3. Research Other Sustainable Forest Incentive Programs. Many states have their own, smaller-scale programs in place to help incentivize forest management. For example, the Minnesota Forest Stewardship Program can help pay for tree-planting, and qualified small forest owners can be eligible for a lower property tax rate.

How Individuals, Land Owners, and Farmers Can Get Paid for Carbon Credits

If you play your cards right, your eco-friendly conservation practices could pay for themselves (or more) by buying and selling carbon credits.

The American Forest Foundation’s Family Forest Carbon Program is designed specifically for small landowners. Because most carbon credits require landowners to have 5,000 acres, the Family Forest Carbon Program is helping pay smaller landowners to sequester and store more carbon.

Business Credits Options for Buying and Selling Carbon Credits

For large companies that need to offset a commercial carbon footprint, then the Californian or EU ETS compliance markets is where they’ll do business.

However, the growing list of the best carbon offset programs is making it easier and easier for individuals and companies to become carbon neutral. For more, check out 8 Billion Trees or Cool Effect, and you can also learn more about buying and selling carbon credits at the Climate Action Reserve.


1European Environment Agency. European Climate Exchange (ECX). April 2021. Web. 16 April 2021. <https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data-providers-and-partners/european-climate-exchange>.

2European Energy Exchange. European Energy Exchange. April 2021. Web. 16 April 2021. <https://www.eex.com/en/>.

3National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. Nasdaq.com. 2021. Web. 16 April 2021. <https://www.nasdaq.com/>.

4State of California. Cap and Trade Program. 2021. Web. 16 April 2021. <https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/cap-and-trade-program>.