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US Climate Bill Passes House of Representatives

The US House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill by a vote of 219 to 211 early Saturday morning. Here’s an update of our late May analysis of how Waxman-Markey promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Forest Footprint aims to Reward Companies that Save Trees

The Carbon Disclosure Project has arguably reduced greenhouse gas emissions by creating an incentive for companies to examine and disclose their carbon footprints – an act that often leads them to realize how easy and economical reductions can be. Can the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project do the same for deforestation?

Is this Man’s ‘Nutrient Farm’ the Mitigation Bank of Tomorrow?

Veteran Chicago hydrologist Don Hey has been arguing for decades that his region could slash its water control costs by taking better care of swamps and floodplains. Local politicians are finally listening – and supporting him on a massive market-based wetland restoration effort that could help ratchet up the scale of mitigation banking across the United States.

Ecosystem Services in the New York City Watershed

Nine years ago, New York City launched a revolutionary project to protect its drinking water by protecting the ecosystem services of its watershed. Ecosystem Marketplace checks up on the most famous ecosystem services project in the world.

Easements and tradable tax credits: bursting bubble or self-correcting mechanism?

With the huge growth of the land trust movement throughout the United States, the use (and misuse) of conservation easements recently has become the subject of a great deal of debate. The Ecosystem Marketplace looks at how markets in easement tax credits have fueled this controversy in ways both good and bad.

Mexico Aims For Inclusivity With New Carbon Norm, But Does It Bring Rigor?

Forest communities can theoretically benefit from carbon finance, but existing standards cost a fortune to implement. This week, Mexico aims to rectify that with a new Carbon Norm designed to create standardized forest-based carbon offsets for projects that plant trees and manage forests. Here’s a look at what the NMX aims to achieve – and the challenges it faces.

New Conservation Bank Aims
To Save The Roaming Sage-Grouse

The greater sage-grouse might not be officially listed as endangered, but conservation of the bird is in full swing. This spring, conservation banking officially entered the fray with the creation of the first sage-grouse bank in Wyoming, a venture spanning thousands of acres that suggests a shift in species banking as well as in overall conservation strategy.

This Week In Biodiversity: Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Teeters Between Cooperation And Conflict

Greater sage-grouses living in the US West received good news with Colorado announcing new voluntary conservation measures and the Bureau of Land Management rolling out landscape-level protection strategies. However, a new funding bill in the Senate aims to block a listing decison for another year. And on a separate note, Brazil passed a law granting easier access to Amazonia’s natural resources.

Mixed Initial Responses To Final US Clean Water Rule

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers finalized their Clean Water Rule on Wednesday. First impressions of the rule meant to protect US waterways from various sources of pollution through clearer definitions of which wetlands and streams are covered under the Clean Water Act are mixed.

Market-Based Species Conservation Receives Boost From US Gov Land Management Plans

The US Bureau of Land Management on Thursday released its final environmental reviews of land-use plans containing greater sage-grouse habitat. As the plans make use of compensatory mitigation, those in the mitigation space are viewing the strategy as a potential driver to increase demand for market mechanisms like habitat exchanges and conservation banks.

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.

WRI Report Outlines US Carbon Pricing Alternatives

The World Resources Institute (WRI) officially joined a growing consensus around the need for a price on carbon pollution through its recent release of a report intended to serve as a guide for policymakers on carbon pricing. Here, a climate and environment writer outlines WRI’s descriptive report, which presents a range of ideas on decarbonization and pricing greenhouse gas emissions.

Invalidation Risk Still Shadows California Offsets Market

The decision by California regulators to invalidate carbon offsets generated at an incineration facility in Arkansas last year continues to cast a dark cloud over the North American carbon markets. The invalidation risk for offsets bound for the U.S. state’s program remains a barrier in completing deals, with more invalidations potentially on the horizon, as stakeholders made clear at the Climate Action Reserve’s carbon markets conference.

This Week In Biodiversity: A Race To The Bottom?

The annual National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference happened this month with the incoming National Mitigation Banking Association (NMBA) president citing low standards and a lack of equivalency in mitigation products as the fundamental challenges facing the industry today. Meanwhile, outside of the US, researchers explore integrating biodiversity into REDD+ in Indonesia.

Early Action: Not So Fast In California Offsets Program

California’s offset market was the source of about nine million compliance offset transactions in 2014, according to an Ecosystem Marketplace analysis. However, that number could have been even higher if the evaluation of early action carbon offset projects by California regulators had not moved at a snail’s pace, according to stakeholders.

Subnational Climate Leaders Will Get Their Day In The Paris Sun

National negotiators will seek to reach an international climate deal during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Paris in December. But states and provinces already taking action – including by launching or planning to join carbon trading programs – have earned a seat at the international table.

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.

NGOs, Cities Use Economic Argument To Win Industry Support For Stormwater Regs

Water brings life, but torrential downpours bring sludge and sewage overflow – contributing pollution around the world. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is under pressure to regulate more aggressively, but, increasingly, NGOs and local authorities are moving ahead with cost-effective stormwater management plans of their own.

Tight Federal Deadlines May Keep U.S. States Out Of Existing Cap-And-Trade Programs

Several U.S. states are considering joining existing cap-and-trade programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to comply with pending carbon rules from the federal government. However, a major obstacle in doing so is the tight deadlines that federal officials have set for states to submit compliance plans.

The Climate Trust: Blazing The Oregon Carbon Trail

When Oregon-based The Climate Trust (TCT) was tasked with identifying and securing offsets back in 1997, there were precious few to find. This challenge shaped the organization as it stands today: TCT continues to trailblaze with new methodologies and innovative financing solutions, including a potential green bond to fund carbon offset projects.

US Climate Action Plan Steers Clear of Global Market Mechanisms

The United States published its eagerly anticipated national climate action plan to the United Nations web site on Tuesday, highlighting an economy-wide target of reducing greenhouse gases by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 – a target that will not be reached through the use of international carbon market mechanisms. The plan, known as its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), also lays out the country’s carbon accounting approach for the land sector.

Why Denver Spends Water Fees On Trees

Five years ago, Denver teamed up with the US Forest Service to funnel money it collects from water fees into forest restoration that will protect the city’s water supply. Ecosystem Marketplace covered the program’s launch in 2010 and checked back in for World Water Day to find the partnership is making significant progress treating more forestland at a lower than expected cost

This Week In Biodiversity: EM Tracks the Co-Financing Unicorn to the Gulf

It was a good month for conservation finance as a study on the potential of wetland carbon offsets in Louisiana found that the state’s blue carbon could be worth between $540 million and $1.6 billion over a five year period. And in California, farmers may be able to leverage finance from both the carbon market and a habitat exchange.

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.

This Week In V-Carbon: Taking Stock of California’s Progress

In the two years since the implementation of California’s carbon market, the state’s Gross Domestic Product grew 2% while emissions in capped sectors dropped 3.8%. Across the pond, China has taken note. The nation is working closely with the Golden State through a number of partnerships-perhaps the most prominent being between the Air Resources Board and its Chinese counterpart known as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

US Gulf Coast Prime For Wetlands Restoration: Study

Louisiana’s disappearing coastlines are propelling renewed efforts to preserve the areas that can be saved before it’s too late. A new study finds the carbon markets could potentially contribute up to $1.6 billion toward this effort, if the offsets generated by wetlands restoration projects are eventually welcomed into the compliance markets.

California Moves With Chinese Provinces On Climate

The United States and China made headlines last year with their Climate Pact, but significant collaboration had already occurred at the subnational levels. Both California and several of China’s provinces launched emissions trading systems (ETS) in 2013, and they have been working together ever since. Now, a new report highlights the latest accomplishments and partnerships.

California Offset Market Slow to Ramp Up

The results from California’s first cap-and-trade compliance period are in, and the numbers are encouraging. Allowance auctions have already raised millions for the state as emissions fall and the economy grows. But offsetting the aspect of the program that invests in direct emissions reductions in non-capped sectors has yet to reach its full potential.

Study Sees $1.6 Billion For Blue Carbon In Louisiana Wetlands

As Louisiana’s wetlands and mangroves retreat, the low-lying state becomes more and more susceptible to hurricanes and other coastal disruptions. Fortunately, mangrove forests also pull massive amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the ocean floor. A new study says that carbon finance could provide up to $1.6 billion for wetland restoration in that state.

REDD Is In The New Climate Text, But Will It Be An INDC?

The negotiating text that emerged from climate talks in Geneva includes six options for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) or, pretty much every option currently floating around the halls. But as countries prepare their Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs), it’s not clear that REDD will be recognized as such.

This Week In V-Carbon: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts EM’s Survey Launch

Ecosystem Marketplace’s annual carbon markets survey launched this week and will be available through March 4, which is also the groundhog’s timeline for cold winter weather. That’s a shorter time frame than in previous years but in order to provide a greater range of reports throughout the year, the carbon team has condensed data collection periods.

Study Sees $1.6 Billion For Blue Carbon In Louisiana Wetlands

As Louisiana’s wetlands and mangroves retreat, the low-lying state becomes more and more susceptible to hurricanes and other coastal disruptions. Fortunately, mangrove forests also pull massive amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the ocean floor. A new study says that carbon finance could provide up to $1.6 billion for wetland restoration in that state.

Ontario Inches Towards Carbon Pricing, Explores Ag And Forestry Offsets

The Canadian province of Ontario looks poised to follow the lead of other jurisdictions in Canada and in the United States by implementing a carbon pricing program, with provincial regulators asking for opinions on what type of program should be implemented. Also on the list is a possible role for the agriculture and forestry sectors, as regulators seek advice for their potential inclusion as carbon offsets.

Colorado Shrinks The Risk Of Wildfire With Investments In Watershed Services

The severity and frequency of wildfires has regions like the US West scrambling for solutions. New research presented during a webinar shows Colorado is taking advantage of the watershed investment approach as more water providers in the state adopt Denver’s celebrated investments in watershed services project that simultaneously protects the city’s water supply and reduces wildfire risk.

Colorado Shrinks The Risk Of Wildfire With Investments In Watershed Services

The severity and frequency of wildfires has regions like the US West scrambling for solutions. New research presented during a webinar shows Colorado is taking advantage of the watershed investment approach as more water providers in the state adopt Denver’s celebrated investments in watershed services project that simultaneously protects the city’s water supply and reduces wildfire risk.

California Regulators Bump Rice Offsets, Forestry Updates To 2015

California once again delayed the potential adoption of a new offset protocol for rice cultivation projects, as well as proposed updates to its forest protocol, to 2015 as stakeholders urged regulators to go back to the drawing board on a few particular elements. Meanwhile, regulators took some flak for the market uncertainty created by their recent invalidation of ozone-depleting substances offsets.

Washington State To Pursue Cap-and-Trade Program

Washington state’s governor proposed a new cap-and-trade program that will look remarkably familiar to those involved in California’s program and could pave the way for further collaboration between the Evergreen and Golden states.

Virginia’s Nutrient Trading Program Aims To Clean Up The Chesapeake Bay

Today, multiple federal agencies recognized Virginia’s nutrient trading program as a natural, cost-efficient and effective approach to improving water quality in the heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay watershed. Federal recognition of the program also indicates potential for more involvement in environmental markets at the national level.

This Week In Biodiversity: Congress Enters The Sage-Grouse Battle

Congress became an official participant in the greater sage-grouse debate when its latest spending bill blocked funding for an Endangered Species Act listing for the bird. Reaction to the decision has been mixed with conservationists and agency officials indicating the voluntary incentives and the state level conservation plans as solid means to protect the grouse without a federal listing status.

California Regulators Bump Rice Offsets, Forestry Updates To 2015

California once again delayed the potential adoption of a new offset protocol for rice cultivation projects, as well as proposed updates to its forest protocol, to 2015 as stakeholders urged regulators to go back to the drawing board on a few particular elements. Meanwhile, regulators took some flak for the market uncertainty created by their recent invalidation of ozone-depleting substances offsets.

Forest, Ag Project Developers See Opportunity, Concern In California ODS Offset Invalidation

United States-based forest carbon project developers see potential for increased demand for their offsets as a direct result of California regulators’ decision to invalidate some ozone-depleting substances (ODS) offsets. But they also sympathize with their ODS counterparts over the way the regulators arrived at their decision to invalidate the offsets and expressed concern their projects could face similar scrutiny.

Despite Market Outcry, California Voids Some Carbon Offsets

California regulators are sticking to their guns by invalidating 88,955 offsets for ozone-depleting substances from one project despite public uproar from a diverse group of carbon market stakeholders. Offsets from another project set for invalidation dodged a bullet when the regulators determined the offsets were not generated during the period the destruction facility was allegedly out of compliance with its federal permit.

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.