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Opinion: The Pope Is Right On Climate, Wrong On Offsets

Pope Francis fears that companies may use carbon offsets to buy their way out of their environmental responsibilities, but the evidence tells a different story. While some bad actors surely abuse the mechanism, most companies that use offsets do so to reduce emissions far beyond their own base of operations. Here are the numbers.


Opinion: Offsets Are A Tool, Not An Indulgence

Pope Francis last week implored Catholics and non-Catholics alike to abandon consumerism and defend God’s gift of nature from the ravages of climate change. It’s a powerful call to action, but he gave short-shrift to one of the most effective tools in the emerging arsenal at our disposal: namely, carbon offsetting.


Climate And Sustainability Experts Release New Multi-Language Guide To INDCs

To help interpret the well-known complexities of countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the Climate Development and Knowledge Network have released an updated version of their popular Guide to INDCs. This new edition continues to focus on Least Developed Countries with new material on Small Island Developing States.


On The Road To Paris. Next Stop: Bonn, June 2015

Mid-year climate talks begin this week in Bonn, Germany – a critical but largely overlooked pit-stop on the way to year-end talks in Paris. Gustavo Silva-Chavez of Forest Trends points out that land-use issues still account for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and will play a central role in whatever solution emerges in Paris.


Opinion Rivaling Gold: Ecological Assets Outperform Traditional Commodities

After completing a price trend comparison between environmental products and traditional commodities, a long-time analyst of ecosystem markets says compensatory credits for wetland and species conservation are outperforming commodities like corn and farmland and even gold-giving a more literal meaning to the term ‘green gold.’ Here is the analysis.


Is Your Balance Sheet An Effective Management Tool For Today And Tomorrow?

Water challenges, climate change, and other such issues are changing the business operating context like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Future-oriented companies are beginning to consider and account for impacts – with the plan of out-competing laggards to this change in context and business measures.


Is Private Investment And Coastal Management A Good Or Bad Match?

Nicolas Pascal, of the BlueFinance project, a data collection initiative aimed at developing finance mechanisms for marine conservation management, says market mechanisms have potential to fill a big part of a funding gap that exists in marine conservation. But its practical experience in coastal environments is limited and so more know-how is needed to spur private investment.


New NMBA President Discusses Challenges, Possibilities For Mitigation Banking

Michael Sprague was officially named the new President of the National Mitigation Banking Association this week at the annual National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference. During a conversation with Ecosystem Marketplace, Sprague noted his key objectives for the coming year, which include a ramp up of activities that influence policy, as well as problems that continue to plague banking.


Mitigation Bankers Seek Fulfillment Of Long-Term And New Goals At Annual Conference

The outgoing president of the National Mitigation Banking Association recently gave Ecosystem Marketplace a brief rundown on highlights of the past year and what to expect from this year’s National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking conference, which should again see a focus on Interior’s landscape-level mitigation strategy. However, this year the strategy’s focus won’t be on its release but rather its implementation.


Opinion Rebooting America’s Voluntary Offset Market

The voluntary carbon market arguably delivers benefits to larger society, but only a narrow slice of us are buying. Sheldon Zakreski of The Climate Trust says it’s time for the US federal government to step in with more loan guarantees and outright purchases that would give the market support until private-sector buying materializes.


Op-Ed Bioenergy Can Support Climate, Food, Land Restoration If Done Right

Governments have long promoted the use of biofuels like ethanol derived from corn as a relatively clean-burning alternative to coal, but biofuels have gone from hero to zero as people started chopping forests to plant fuel crops. Many environmentalists today are calling for an end to pro-biofuel policies, but Emily McGlynn of The Earth Partners LP says we simply need to use land more efficiently.


Opinion: Yes, The US EPA Can And Should Allow Offsets Under The Clean Power Plan

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it’s not sure it can legally allow carbon offsets to be used for compliance under its proposed Clean Power Plan, but Victor B. Flatt, an expert in the US federal Clean Air Act says it has the authority and should give states the flexibility they need to reduce carbon emissions in the most cost-effective manner.


New European Carbon Exchange Bets On Revival Of Spot Trading

The European Environmental Markets, a new spot trading platform for European Union Emissions Trading System participants, is betting the problems that have plagued the granddaddy of carbon trading programs are a thing of the past. CEO Adrian Rimmer hopes the launch of the new platform marks a new wave of investing and interest in the European market.


Industrialized Countries To Start Unveiling Climate-Change Strategies In March

On Wednesday, the European Union will unveil its post-2020 climate-change strategy, presaging a month when most industrialized nations are expected to upload their strategies to the United Nations web site. By the end of June, every country in the world should have offered its own Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution to the climate challenge, and by October we’ll know how they all fit together.


This Week In Water: The Water Stewards At The Bottom Of The Pyramid

The main objective of microfinance is to alleviate poverty which is why the socio-economic benefits of payments for ecosystem services projects imply the potential of collaboration between the two sectors. And speaking of poverty alleviation, Bolivia has developed a conservation mechanism it says helps the poor while hurting the deforester


Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right

Although payments for ecosystem service programs have social aspects that can benefit the poor, all too often local communities are ignored. But Bolivia may offer a solution with a holistic approach-known as the Bolivian mechanism-that can balance environmental protection with poverty reduction. However, the trade-off between social and ecological goals isn’t eliminated entirely with this approach.


Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right

Although payments for ecosystem service programs have social aspects that can benefit the poor, all too often local communities are ignored. But Bolivia may offer a solution with a holistic approach-known as the Bolivian mechanism-that can balance environmental protection with poverty reduction. However, the trade-off between social and ecological goals isn’t eliminated entirely with this approach.


2014: The Year For Nature-Based Solutions?

As the constraint on natural resources increases, the public and private sector are becoming more receptive to holistic nature-based solutions to address infrastructure and other challenges. Ecosystem Marketplace noticed particular growth in this area as it looks back over the year.


2014: The Year In Biodiversity

Voluntary initiatives and integration were big topics of the biodiversity space in 2014. In the US, regulators and landowners grappled with new methods to protect dwindling species population in the face of encroaching development. Meanwhile, the international world continued to push for meaningful biodiversity conservation through a merging of agendas.


This Week In Forest Carbon: Lima Call For Action Undergoes Surgery

The Lima Call for Action set a procedure for countries to submit their contributions to fighting climate change, but the guidance on how to include land-use is thin so far. In other news, private investors have committed $365 million to restore 20 million hectares in Latin America and the Caribbean, a REDD+ pilot in Tanzania is stalling as it waits on a second phase of investment and an airplane laser-beamed an Alaskan forest to measure its carbon.


Thursday in Lima: Indigenous Life Plans And REDD Finance, Bringing It Together

Indigenous people have moved from the fringes to the center of climate talks in Lima, but how do indigenous “life plans and climate fit together? That’s the focus of a Thursday side event in Lima. Streamed live, the event will focus on the work of a small but influential consortium of NGOs and indigenous organizations moving REDD forward.


How The Warsaw Climate Talks Spawned The New China-US Climate Deal

All week, we’ve heard how the China-US Climate Pact changed the climate game for the better, and most of what we’ve heard is wrong. The game has changed alright, but it didn’t change this week in Beijing; it changed last year in Warsaw. If you don’t understand that, then nothing that happens at the December talks in Lima will make sense.


Staring Down the California Drought: Looking at Solutions to Our Water Crisis

Natural infrastructure and watershed investments could serve as valuable solutions to the ongoing droughts happening in California and elsewhere. The latest article in our Crowdrise series looks at nature-based solutions to the global water crisis drawing on findings from the State of Watershed Investments 2014 report.


Biodiversity And REDD: How They Fit Together

Never before have we known as much about the synergies between forest carbon and biodiversity as we do now, but that knowledge has been hidden beneath layers of impenetrable gobbledygook. A new sourcebook aims to fix that by scraping away the jargon and connecting dots previously visible only to experts. More importantly, it succeeds.

Is There A Right Price For Carbon?

Corporations all around the globe are adopting a price on carbon for business planning purposes amid expectations that national emissions trading systems or carbon taxes will be implemented from China to South Africa, according to a new report from the CDP. But one critical and often controversial question remains unanswered: what is the right price to instigate changes in behavior that actually reduce carbon emissions?


Opinion: It’s Time To Get Real About Climate Change

The climate debate is shifting from “How do we keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius?” to “How do we manage life in the Anthropocene?” For the fact is that we’ve now entered a new era that we cannot negotiate our way out of, and we need to implement policies that manage the risks associated with temperature increases well above that threshold.


Reason for Climate Change Optimism As Forest Strategy Is Validated

Results from a recent report made it official that indigenous peoples act as good land stewards and vital players in reducing deforestation and combating climate change. Financial mechanisms like REDD can aid indigenous peoples in preserving their land and mitigating climate change.


World Bank Initiative Moves Talk On Water Energy Nexus To Action

Moving from talking about the interlinked thinking behind the water-energy nexus to implementing its approach is a tricky transition. World Bank Economist Diego Rodriguez says the new Thirsty Energy initiative aims to do just that, however, by providing governments with the necessary tools and guidance.


Three Images That Illustrate The Challenge Of Life On A Managed Planet

You can’t separate people from climate change. We caused it, and we will suffer from it. The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, recently tried to summarize the interplay between people and the planet in one wall poster, and the result is a stark reminder of the fact that we now live on a managed planet.


The Third Way? Explaining Japan’s New Standard

Japan is home to the original Kyoto Protocol, but last year it slashed its emission-reduction goals and dropped out of the second phase of the Protocol itself. There is, however, a silver lining: the country’s new J-Credit System also came online in 2013, and it provides a streamlined version of the country’s previous voluntary standards. Researcher, Noriko Hase, explains the new system.


Barack Obama And The Rationale
For Ecosystem Service Markets

US President Barack Obama continued to roll out his Climate Action Plan this week by addressing the League of Conservation Voters. In the address, he mocked climate-science deniers, touted renewable energy, and warned environmentalists against ignoring the potential costs of reducing emissions. He also defended the Clean Water Act – an act that succeeds by addressing the exact issues he warned against ignoring.


EcoPlanet Bamboo: Thinking Long-Term

EcoPlanet Bamboo yesterday announced that its Nicaragua bamboo projects successfully verified their first carbon offsets. These projects are expected to reduce 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2e) over their 20-year lifetime. This milestone came after a patient process of navigating the voluntary carbon markets and – as Troy Wiseman explains in the interview below – is part of the company’s truly long-term vision for triple bottom line profitability.


Environmental Credit Corp: California, Here We Come!

Environmental Credit Corp (ECC) was busy in 2013 developing emissions reduction projects that received a total of more than one million tonnes from California’s regulated carbon market. But Derek Six, ECC’s CEO/CFO, spoke to Gloria Gonzalez about growing interest in a new charismatic project type that could be added to California’s program in the future.


Chevrolet: Driving In The Voluntary Carbon Market’s Fast Lane

Chevrolet remains one of the leading buyers of carbon offsets in the voluntary market as it closes in on a commitment to reduce its emissions by up to eight million tonnes of carbon. But David Tulauskas, director of sustainability for General Motors (GM), Chevrolet’s parent company, says the road does not end there.


Uniting People And Ecosystem Resilience For Food Security In Latin America on Earth Day

This week’s Katoomba Meeting in Lima aims to complement year-end climate talks there by focusing on how climate policy fits into the larger “landscape approach” that incorporates people, farming, forests, and water. EcoAgriculture Partners looked at more than 100 initiatives in Latin America to find out what works and what doesn’t, with surprising results.


This Earth Day, Let’s Focus On Results Instead Of Rhetoric

Chief Tashka Yawanawa, the leader of an indigenous tribe living in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, spoke at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship about his struggle to maintain his peoples’ traditional way of life that evolved into a fight to save the world’s forests. 


Palm Oil: From Plantation To Peanut Butter

Palm oil is found in hundreds of products but it’s virtually unheard of by the average consumer despite its production destroying huge swaths of forest in tropical places like Indonesia and Malaysia. But the Union of Concerned Scientists is trying to help change that by promoting awareness as a key step in achieving deforestation-free palm oil development.    


Should Governments Buy Carbon Offsets To Bail Out Conservation Projects?

REDD+ projects are progressing even as uncertainty surrounds how this transition to later phases will be financed. ForestsClimateChange, an information hub on global climate issues, asks a group of individuals working within the forestry realm who should step up. Here is an introduction to the debate.


Let’s Take Impact
Investing To The Masses

Impact investing is already driving social change in small ways, but it has the potential to completely change the way we address societal challenges. Here’s how we can tap existing financial products and services to scale up in a meaningful way.


What Stories Will Impact
People And The Planet In 2014?

The coming year could be a good one for the environment, with China cleaning its air, palm olil moving towards sustainability, and the world at large finally starting to get a handle on climate change. These are some of the more optimistic projections from the World Resources Institute (WRI) as it identifies what it believes will be the top stories of 2014.


Opinion: The Value of Ecosystem Services Valuations

It’s a fact that human life relies on the natural world but figuring out how to measure this dependency is difficult. Tundi Agardy, a marine conservation expert and the director of Forest Trends’ Marine Ecosystem Services Program, discusses her views on the benefits and dangers of ecosystem services valuations. 


Conservation Banking Becomes A Reality In Spain

Spain’s new Environmental Assessment Act, passed late last year, has big implications for conservation banking.  David Alvarez Garcia of the Spanish organization, Mercados de Medio Ambiente, which focuses on market based biodiversity conservation solutions, briefly explains his take on the new rule. 


The Most Important Climate Change Question: How Will Investors React?

While the ideas of green infrastructure and sustainability are becoming more prominent, there is little talk of how the hedge fund space will affect efforts to transition to a clean environment. Here, Thomas H. Stoner Jr. and Peter Backlund of the Butterfly Project, a collaborative organization aimed at decarbonizing economies, discuss the possible impacts of hedge fund trading activities.   


Carbon Markets Protect Area Greater Than The Congo’s Forests Combined

Combining the numbers from Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest Forest Carbon Markets report, which identifies 168 conservation projects under carbon management that protects over 25 million hectares of forest, with the business sector’s rising interest in REDD and other forest carbon initiatives indicate incentives-based schemes for conservation are working.