Saudi firm RVCMC oversees largest auction of voluntary carbon credits yet

A Saudi company said it oversaw the sale of more than 2.2 million carbon offsets, in what it described as the largest auction of voluntary carbon credits held by anyone so far.

The credits were acquired by 16 Saudi and international companies. The biggest buyers were Aramco, Saudi Electricity Company and ENOWA (a subsidiary of NEOM), according to a statement made by Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company, which hosted the auction in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The $2 billion carbon-credit market was rocked earlier this year by Zimbabwe’s plan to take half of all revenues generated from projects within its borders. That announcement and others like it have added uncertainty to the market as investors and a growing number of businesses turn to offsets to reduce their carbon footprints.

The basket of credits in the Nairobi auction includes 18 projects representing a mix of CO2 avoidance and removal, including projects such as improved clean cook stoves and renewable energy projects. Buyers who acquire the credits can use them to offset emissions connected to their business activity.

Three quarters of the carbon credits sold originated from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, includ-ing Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa. The clearing price was 23.50 Saudi riyals (about $6.27) per carbon credit. One credit represents a ton of CO2.

In an interview ahead of the sale, RVCMC’s Chief Executive Officer Riham ElGizy said the company is now planning to set up an offsets exchange in the first half of next year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “Our ambition is being one of the largest markets in the world by 2030,” said ElGizy.

RVCMC hosted its first auction in Riyadh last October, which led to the sale of carbon credits representing 1.4 million tonnes of CO2, enough to compensate for the annual emissions of 250,000 family cars. The lead bidders were Aramco, Olayan Financing Company, and Saudi state-owned mining company Ma’aden. The total value of the credits sold at that auction wasn’t disclosed.

RVCMC was established by the Saudi Public Investment Fund and Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Company in October 2022. The PIF holds an 80 percent stake and Tadawul Group has a 20 percent shareholding in the company.

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