Exploring development and evolutionary trends in carbon offset research: a bibliometric perspective

Abstract

This study proposes a bibliometric measure to visualize and analyze the research status and development trend of carbon offset based on 1,581 articles over the period 1900–2019. The main findings include (1) carbon offset research turned into a rapid growth after 2009; (2) environmental studies, environmental science, economics, and energy fuels are the top four research domains in publication; (3) Energy Policy, Ecological Economics and Science are the top three journals in terms of citation impact; (4) climate change, impact, emission, CO2 emission, and policy are shown to be the most frequently used keywords; (5) the top 10 cited articles cover the following five essential aspects: individual carbon offset behavior; forest and land carbon offset; transportation carbon offset; international trade carbon offset; and eco-system service-related carbon offset; (6) eight research hotspots were identified including forest carbon sequestration program, understanding carbon and uncertainty market, policy design, biomass development, Chinese province, increasing adoption, and ecosystem service commodification. These findings suggest that the carbon offset research has been evolved from the theoretical exploration at the early stage to a more diversified conversion of research outputs at the practical level in recent years. Interdisciplinary research towards individual and organizational carbon offset behaviors in a broader context of socio-economic development and cooperation among various agents is the emphasis and direction for future study.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Data Availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Notes

  1. 1.

    As forests are generally darker than bare or agricultural land, they absorb relatively solar radiation, which may exert a local warming influence. This phenomenon is known as the "albedo effect."

References

  1. Amin NM, Hossain S, Lobry de Bruyn L, Wilson B (2020) A systematic review of soil carbon management in Australia and the need for a social-ecological systems framework. Sci Total Environ 719:135–182

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Asante P, Armstrong G (2016) Carbon sequestration and the optimal forest harvest decision under alternative baseline policies. J For Econ 46(5):3–17

    Google Scholar 

  3. Azar C (2011) Biomass for energy: a dream come true ... or nightmare? Wires Clim Chang 2(3):309–323

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barth M, Boriboonsomsin K (2009) Energy and emissions impacts of a freeway-based dynamic eco-driving system. Transport Res D-Tr E 14(6):400–410

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Becken S, Mackey B (2017) What role for offsetting aviation greenhouse gas emissions in a deep-cut carbon world? J Air Transp Manag 63:71–83

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. British Standards Institute (BSI) (2014) PAS 2060-2014 Specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality. Freestd. http://www.freestd.us/soft4/3551733.htm. Accessed 5 March 2020

  7. Brunnschweiler CN (2010) Finance for renewable energy: an empirical analysis of developing and transition economies. Environ Dev Econ 15(3):241–274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bumpus AG, Liverman DM (2008) Accumulation by decarbonization and the governance of carbon offsets. Econ Geogr 84(2):127–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cao J (2010) Reconciling economic growth and carbon mitigation: challenges and policy options in china. Asian Econ Policy Rev 5(1):110–129

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chen CM (2006) CiteSpace II: Detecting and visualizing emerging trends and transient patterns in scientific literature. J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol 57:359–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chen C (2017) Science mapping: a systematic review of the literature. J Data Inform Sci 2(2):1–40

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chen CM, Hu ZG, Liu SB, Tseng H (2012) Emerging trends in regenerative medicine: a scientometric analysis in CiteSpace. Expert Opin Biol Ther 12:593–608

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Cui Y, Mou J, Liu Y (2018) Knowledge mapping of social commerce research: a visual analysis using CiteSpace. Electron Commer Res 18(4):837–868

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Daniels TL (2010) Integrating forest carbon sequestration into a cap-and-trade program to reduce net CO2 emissions. J Am Plan Assoc 76:463–475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dargusch P, Lawrence K, Herbohn J (2010) A small-scale forestry perspective on constraints to including REDD in international carbon markets. Small-scale For 9:485–499

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Deng MJ, Luo WB, Yin LJ (2013) A systematic review of international theory, research and practice on carbon neutrality. Resour Sci 5:186–196

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dewulf A (2013) Contrasting frames in policy debates on climate change adaptation. Wires Clim Chang 4(4):321–330

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dhanda KK, Hartman LP (2011) The ethics of carbon neutrality: a critical examination of voluntary carbon offset providers. J Bus Ethics 100:119–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Dhanda KK, Murphy PJ (2011) The new wild west is green: carbon offset markets, transactions, and providers. Acad Manag Perspect 25(4):37–49

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Doria MDF, Boyd E, Tompkins EL, Adger WN (2009) Using expert elicitation to define successful adaptation to climate change. Environ Sci Pol 12(7):810–819

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Duan Z, Wang X, Dong X, Duan H, Song J (2020) Peaking industrial energy-related CO2 emissions in typical transformation region: Paths and mechanism. Sustainability 12:791

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Fang Y, Yin J, Wu B (2017) Climate change and tourism: a scientometric analysis using CiteSpace. J Sustain Tour:1–19

  23. Fankhauser S, Hepburn C (2010a) Designing carbon markets, Part I: carbon markets in time. Energ Policy 38(8):4363–4370

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fankhauser S, Hepburn C (2010b) Designing carbon markets, Part II: carbon markets in space. Energ Policy 38(8):4381–4387

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Fraser SDS, Lock K (2011) Cycling for transport and public health: a systematic review of the effect of the environment on cycling. Eur J Pub Health 21(6):738–743

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Galik CS, Jackson RB (2009) Risks to forest carbon offset projects in a changing climate. For Ecol Manag 257(11):2209–2216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Gilbert A, Sovacool BK (2015) Emissions accounting for biomass energy with ccs. Nat Clim Chang 5(6):495–496

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Giulia F, Michela C, Valentina B, Elena V (2014) The power of biomass: experts disclose the potential for success of bioenergy technologies. Energy Policy 65:94–114

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Glanzel W (1996) A bibliometric approach to social sciences, national research performances in 6 selected social science areas, 1990–1992. Scientometrics 35(3):291–307

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Gong YZ, Wu ZJ (2012) A brief analysis on carbon offsets in greenhouse gas emission reduction. J Shandong Univ Technol (Soc Sci) 1:5–10

    Google Scholar 

  31. Guan D, Hubacek K, Weber CL, Peters GP, Reiner DM (2008) The drivers of Chinese CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2030. Glob Environ Chang 18(4):626–634

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Guo YM, Huang ZL, Guo J, Li H, Guo XR, Nkeli MJ (2019) Bibliometric analysis on smart cities research. Sustainability 11:3606

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Guo YM, Huang ZL, Guo J, Guo XR, Li H, Liu MY, Ezzeddine S, Nkeli MJ (2021) A bibliometric analysis and visualization of blockchain. Futur Gener Comput Syst 116:316–332

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Haaland C, Bosch C (2015) Challenges and strategies for urban green-space planning in cities undergoing densification: A review. Urban For Urban Green 14(4):760–771

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hahn T, Mcdermott C, Ituartelima C, Schultz M, Green T, Tuvendal M (2015) Purposes and degrees of commodification: economic instruments for biodiversity and ecosystem services need not rely on markets or monetary valuation. Ecosyst Serv 16:74–82

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hassett KA, Mathur A, Metcalf GE (2009) The incidence of a US carbon tax: a lifetime and regional analysis. Energy J 30(2):155–178

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Hong R, Liu H, Xiang C, Song Y, Lv C (2020) Visualization and analysis of mapping knowledge domain of oxidation studies of sulfide ores. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27(6):5809–5824

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Im Eun H, Adams D, Latta G (2010) The impacts of changes in federal timber harvest on forest carbon sequestration in western Oregon. Can J For Res 40:1710–1723

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Jack BK, Kousky C, Sims RRE (2008) Designing payments for ecosystem services: lessons from previous experience with incentive-based mechanisms. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:9465–9470

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Jia L, Pradeep T, Douglas M, Xi L (2013) Technological, economic and financial prospects of carbon dioxide capture in the cement industry. Energ Policy 61(10):1377–1387

    Google Scholar 

  41. Jo H-K, Park H-M, Kim J-Y (2019) Carbon offset service and design guideline of tree planting for multifamily residential sites in Korea. Sustainability 11:3543

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Jou RC, Chen TY (2015) Willingness to pay of air passengers for carbon-offset. Sustainability 7:3071–3085

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Juhola S, Keskitalo E, Westerhoff L (2011) Understanding the framings of climate change adaptation across multiple scales of governance in Europe. Environ Polit 20(4):445–463

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Kooten V, Cornelis G (2018) The challenge of mitigating climate change through forestry activities: what are the rules of the game? Ecol Econ 146:35–43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Kopnina H (2017) Commodification of natural resources and forest ecosystem services: examining implications for forest protection. Environ Conserv 44:24–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Law R, Wu J, Liu J (2014) Progress in Chinese hotel research: a review of SSCI-listed journals. Int J Hosp Manag 42:144–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Li Q, Long R, Chen H, Chen F, Wang J (2020) Visualized analysis of global green buildings: development, barriers and future directions. J Clean Prod 1:245

    Google Scholar 

  48. Liu W, Hu G, Tang L, Wang Y (2015) China's global growth in social science research: uncovering evidence from bibliometric analyses of SSCI publications (1978–2013). J Inf Secur 9:555–569

    Google Scholar 

  49. Lora EES, Palacio JCE, Rocha MH, Renó MLG, Venturini OJ, Del Olmo OA (2011) Issues to consider, existing tools and constraints in biofuels sustainability assessments. Energy 36(4):2097–2110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Luyssaert S, Jammet M, Stoy P et al (2014) Land management and land-cover change have impacts of similar magnitude on surface temperature. Nat Clim Chang 4(5):389–393

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Ma M, Shen L, Ren H, Cai W, Ma Z (2017) How to measure carbon emission reduction in China’s public building sector: Retrospective decomposition analysis based on STIRPAT model in 2000–2015. Sustainability 9:1744

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Macintosh A, Keith H, Lindenmayer D (2015) Rethinking forest carbon assessments to account for policy institutions. Nat Clim Chang 5:10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Mackerron GJ, Egerton C, Gaskell C, Parpia A, Mourato S (2009) Willingness to pay for carbon offset certification and co-benefits among (high-) flying young adults in the UK. Energy Policy 37(4):1372–1381

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Mair J (2011) Exploring air travellers’ voluntary carbon-offsetting behavior. J Sustain Tour 19(2):215–230

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Martello R, Dargusch P, Medrilizam (2010) A systems analysis of factors affecting leakage in reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation projects in tropical forests in developing nations. Small-scale For 9:501–516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. McAfee K (2012) The contradictory logic of global ecosystem services markets. Dev Chang 43(1):105–131

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. McNish T (2012) Carbon offsets are a bridge too far in the tradable property rights revolution. Harv Environ Law Rev 36(2):387–443

    Google Scholar 

  58. Metz B (2013) The legacy of the Kyoto protocol: a view from the policy world. Wires Clim Chang 4(3):151–158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Millard-Ball A, Schipper L (2011) Are we reaching peak travel? Trends in passenger transport in eight industrialized countries. Transp Rev 31(3):357–378

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Murray BC, Mccarl BA, Lee HC (2004) Estimating leakage from forest carbon sequestration programs. Land Econ 80:109–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Nordhaus W (2008) Climate change: global warming economics. Science 294(5545):1283–1284

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Pan Y, Birdsey RA, Fang J, Houghton R, Kauppi PE, Kurz WA et al (2011) A large and persistent carbon sink in the world’s forests. Science 333

  63. Peters GP, Minx JC, Edenhofer WO (2011) Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(21):8903–8908

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Price C (2018) Declining discount rate and the social cost of carbon: forestry consequences. J For Econ 31:39–45

    Google Scholar 

  65. Raghu S, Spencer JL, Davis AS (2011) Ecological considerations in the sustainable development of terrestrial biofuel crops. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 3:15–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Reynolds CC, Escobedo FJ, Clerici N, Zea-Camaño J (2017) Does “greening” of neotropical cities considerably mitigate carbon dioxide emissions? The case of Medellin, Colombia. Sustainability 9:785

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Robinson CJ, Gerrard E, May T, Maclean K (2014) Australia's indigenous carbon economy: a national snapshot. Geogr Res 52(2):123–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Ronda-Pupo GA, Guerras-Martin LA (2012) Dynamics of the evolution of the strategy concept 1962–2008: A co-word analysis. Strateg Manag J 33(2):162–188

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Searchinger T, Heimlich R, Houghton RA (2008) Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change. Science 319:1238–1240

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Seidl R, Schelhaas MJ, Rammer W, Verkerk PJ (2014) Increasing forest disturbances in Europe and their impact on carbon storage. Nat Clim Chang 4(9):806–810

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Seuring T, Archangelidi O, Suhrcke M (2015) The economic costs of type 2 diabetes: a global systematic review. Pharmacol Econ 33(8):811–831

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Shi Y, Liu X (2019) Research on the literature of green building based on the web of science: a scientometric analysis in citespace (2002–2018). Sustainability 11:3716

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Small H (1973) Co-citation in the scientific literature: a new measure of the relationship between two documents. J Am Soc Inf Sci 24

  74. Smith J, Rodger J (2009) Carbon emission offsets for aviation-generated emissions due to international travel to and from New Zealand. Energ Policy 37(9):3438–3447

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Sovacool BK (2011a) Four problems with global carbon markets: a critical review. Energ Environ 22:681–694

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Sovacool BK (2011b) The policy challenges of tradable credits: a critical review of eight markets. Energ Policy 39:575–585

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Sun Q, Zhang S, Ke Y et al (2021) Comparative analysis on the PPP research in Chinese and international journals: a bibliometric perspective. Int J Constr Manag 2:1–21

    Google Scholar 

  78. Thompson M, Adams D, Johnson KN (2009) The albedo effect and forest carbon offset design. J Forest 107(8):425–431

    Google Scholar 

  79. Tilman D, Socolow R, Foley JA, Hill J, Larson E, Lynd L, Pacala S, Reilly J, Searchinger T, Somerville C, Williams R (2009) Beneficial biofuels—the food, energy, and environment trilemma. Science 325(5938):270–271

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Tol RS (2006) The Stern review of the economics of climate change: a comment. Energ Environ 17(6):977–981

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Upreti BR (2004) Conflict over biomass energy development in the United Kingdom: some observations and lessons from England and Wales. Energ Policy 32(6):785–800

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Van Kooten GC, Johnston CMT (2016) The economics of forest carbon offsets. Ann Rev Resour Econ 8(1):227–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Vliet OPR, Faaij PC, Wim C, Turkenburg WC (2009) Fischer-Tropsch diesel production in a well-to-wheel perspective: a carbon, energy flow and cost analysis. Energy Convers Manag 50(4):855–876

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  84. Wang H, Fu Z, Lu W, Zhao Y, Hao R (2019a) Research on sulfur oxides and nitric oxides released from coal-fired flue gas and vehicle exhaust: a bibliometric analysis. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26:17821–17833

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Wang MH, Ho YS, Fu HZ (2019b) Global performance and development on sustainable city based on natural science and social science research: a bibliometric analysis. Sci Total Environ 666:1245–1254

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Wang SH, Wang XQ, Tang Y (2020) Drivers of carbon emission transfer in ChinalAn analysis of international trade from 2004 to 2011. Sci Total Environ 709:135924

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Wei Q, Song YN (2018) Strategy of enterprise production and abatement under carbon offsetting scheme. Soft Sci 2:88–92

    Google Scholar 

  88. Whitmarsh L, O’Neill S (2010) Green identity, green living? The role of pro-environmental self-identity in determining consistency across diverse pro-environmental behaviours. J Environ Psychol 30(3):305–314

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Wu LJ, Li WX (2019) Strategy of enterprise production and abatement under carbon offsetting scheme. China Soft Sci 340(04):189–197

    Google Scholar 

  90. Xiang T, Ying Y, Teng J, Huang Z, Wu J, Meng C, Jiang P, Tang C, Li J, Zheng R (2016) Sympodial bamboo species differ in carbon bio-sequestration and stocks within phytoliths of leaf litters and living leaves. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(19):19257–19265

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  91. Yan Y, Yang L (2010) China’s foreign trade and climate change: a case study of CO2 emissions. Energ Policy 38(1):350–356

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Yan J, Sha J, Chu X, Xu F, Xiang N (2014) Dynamic evaluation of water quality improvement based on effective utilization of stockbreeding biomass resource. Sustainability 6:8218–8236

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Yin X, Chen X, Xu X, Zhang L (2020) Tax or subsidy? Optimal carbon emission policy: a supply chain perspective. Sustainability 12:1548

    Article  Google Scholar 

  94. Zhang RX, Liu Y, Li YX, Ding ML, Zhang ZP, Chuai XW (2015) Overview of regional carbon compensation: Mechanism, pattern and policy suggestions. Areal Res Dev 5:118–122

    Google Scholar 

  95. Zhang Y, Peng Y, Ma C, Shen B (2017) Can environmental innovation facilitate carbon emissions reduction? Evidence from China. Energ Policy 100:18–28

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  96. Zhou P, Thijs B, Glänzel W (2009) Is China also becoming a giant in social sciences? Scientometrics 79(3):593–621

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Zhou Z, Yin X, Xu J, Ma L (2012) The development situation of biomass gasification power generation in China. Energ Policy 51:52–57

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Chen C (2012) Predictive effects of structural variation on citation counts. J Am Soc Info Sci Technol 63(3):431–449

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgment

The authors gratefully acknowledge the help comments from reviewers and editors.

Funding

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Funding of China (grant nos. 71804141 and 71704045) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (grant nos. 2017M620459 and 2018T111080).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

The conceptual framework was developed by JW, LZ, and RY. Formal analysis was conducted by MW. JW and MW contribute to the analysis of the data. The manuscript was written by KZ and JW.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kai Zhao.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent to publish

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible Editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wei, J., Zhao, K., Zhang, L. et al. Exploring development and evolutionary trends in carbon offset research: a bibliometric perspective. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12908-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Carbon offset
  • Bibliometrics
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Development trend