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Australia Pushes Toward Emissions Trading

The Australian states and territories are collectively pushing a national greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme despite active resistance from the Commonwealth government. The Ecosystem Marketplace considers the potential implications of implementing the world's first state-based National Emissions Trading Scheme.

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.

Study Says Banks Are Still Financing Deforestation. Here Is How They Can Stop

Companies around the world are tripping over each other to make “zero deforestation” pledges, but that won’t mean a thing if the banks that finance them ignore deforestation liability. A new study says that’s exactly what’s happening, but there’s a simple solution. Will the banks bite?

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 Water: A Brazil Matrix And Supply Chain Risk

This month, Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends launched an interactive map and database tracking and categorizing over 2,000 payments for ecosystem services in Brazil called the Brazilian Matrix of Ecosystem Services. In other news, a diverse national water quality trading network released a program-building guide.

Norway Supports The Governors’ Task Force To The Tune Of $25 Million

Norway broke new ground in supporting the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force this week when the country announced $25 million in financing to the initiative over a 4-year period. While the funds have potential to plug significant funding gaps, they could also encourage other countries to follow Norway’s example.

The Sustainability Strategy That No One Talked About

More than 200 major brands use carbon offsets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent Ecosystem Marketplace report. Representatives from two of those companies, Volcom and Intuit, spoke at Sustainable Brands about how they’re promoting offsetting from within.

Brazilian Ecosystem Services Matrix Brings Transparency To Environmental Finance

Brazil is not only a hotbed of ecosystem services, it’s also testing grounds for the market-like payments for ecosystem services approach to conserve and manage these natural services. And now, a new initiative launching this week provides a comprehensive way to track, understand and scale these programs using an interactive mapping and database system.

Voluntary Buyers Spend Nearly $4.5 Billion on Offsets Over Last Decade

The voluntary carbon markets have served as the testing ground for compliance programs all over the world, even moving forward when efforts to implement mandatory cap-and-trade programs stalled. This has led to the voluntary markets having an influence that extends well beyond the nearly one billion offsets transacted over the last decade, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report.

REDD+ And Green Supply Chains: The Yin And Yang Of Saving Forests

Companies worth more than $4 trillion have promised to reduce their impact on the world’s forests, and more than one-third of the new pledges came just last year, which more than doubled 2013’s total. Now comes the hard part: keeping those promises honest, and helping smaller suppliers adjust to the new demand. Here’s how public finance for forest protection can help.

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.

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.

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.

REDD+ And Green Supply Chains: The Yin And Yang Of Saving Forests

Companies worth more than $4 trillion have promised to reduce their impact on the world’s forests, and more than one-third of the new pledges came just last year, which more than doubled 2013’s total. Now comes the hard part: keeping those promises honest, and helping smaller suppliers adjust to the new demand. Here’s how public finance for forest protection can help.

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.

New Credit Card Aims To Spur Individual Carbon Offset Purchases

Individuals have traditionally been a miniscule source of demand in the voluntary carbon markets. A new company called Sustain:Green is hoping to change that by offering consumers a credit card that makes over the traditional customer reward structure to allow them to finance the purchase of carbon offsets.

Emerging From The Darkness: New Process Aims To Tackle Black Carbon

Soot and smoke no longer blanket London and other Western cities like they once did, but these and other forms of “black carbon” continue to plague families in developing countries. Now a new Gold Standard methodology will offer clean cookstoves projects the chance to access a new source of funding for reducing these emissions.

This Week In Biodiversity: Choose Your Own Adventure

The argument over voluntary approaches to conserve at risk-species like the greater sage-grouse isn’t waning. Meanwhile, new research applying the mitigation hierarchy to the agriculture and forestry sectors finds net positive impacts for biodiversity are possible and a separate report finds commodity subsidies driving deforestation vastly outweigh conservation finance to protect forests.

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.

This Week In Forest Carbon: REDD Gets Sweeter

The Tambopata REDD, based in Peru, aims to pair carbon finance with sustainable cocoa production with help from a $7 million investment by Althelia Climate Fund. Rather than rely on carbon finance long term, the project is designed to use offset sales as the start-up capital to set up the sustainable cocoa production – which over time will become the main revenue stream for farmers.

Global Forum To Highlight Solutions To Water Shortages, Stress And Scarcity

The world is overwhelmed by water stress and scarcity and sustainable water management in many forms is an absolute necessity. The good news is water practitioners are developing innovative solutions to water challenges that will be shared this week during the multi-sector, high level and collaborative World Water Forum.

Where Chocolate Meets Carbon: One Peruvian Project Finds The Sweet Spot

The Althelia Climate Fund’s $7 million investment in the Madre de Dios region of Peru aims to support 1,100 farmers on sustainable cocoa production and protect a biodiverse national reserve. It’s a marriage of avoided deforestation and sustainable commodity production that is projected to pay off in more ways than one.

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.

This Week In V-Carbon: A Little Myth Busting

A new Ecosystem Marketplace report set out to determine how carbon offsetting fits into corporate carbon strategies and found that 14% of businesses disclosing climate change information purchased offsets. Among many significant findings, the report dispels the myth that companies buying carbon offsets do so to avoid making climate commitments.

Commodity Roundtables: Green Gatekeepers Or Dirty Doormen?

It’s been a decade since the first commodity roundtables brought producers of soy, palm, and other crops together with environmental organizations. The results have been less than stellar, but the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil recently disciplined 100 members for failure to comply with paperwork requirements. Critics say that’s a nice beginning, but we still have far to go.

New Site Tracks Corporate Action on Deforestation

In the past year, there has been a serious surge in big corporations pledging to deforestation-free commodities. To track companies’ movement on these pledges, Ecosystem Marketplace in collaboration with CDP and WWF is launching a new platform called Supply Change that tracks private sector action against commitments. This new interactive tool launched today.

Marks & Spencer: Cooking Its Way To A Cleaner Future

Motivated by an ambitious sustainability plan, British retailer Marks and Spencer has become one of the biggest voluntary buyers of carbon offsets, according to a new Ecosystem Marketplace report. But the company is going beyond greening its own operations, making a commitment to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to raise awareness of clean cooking, including within its supply chain.

Corporate Carbon Offset Buyers Go The Extra Mile In Fighting Climate Change

Companies that include offset purchases as part of a carbon management strategy are also taking concrete action to address climate change through energy efficiency, green product design, and other means, according to a new Ecosystem Marketplace report. American automaker General Motors, British bank Barclays, and Brazilian cosmetics company Natura Cosméticos are among the top voluntary carbon offset buyers.

How Fine Italian Leather Drives Illegal Deforestation

The European Union is a global leader in combating climate change, but those fine Italian leather jackets often come from cows raised on land that had been rainforest just a few years ago. Indeed, new research shows that European consumers are driving illegal deforestation around the world.

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.

What Do A Seed And A Website Have To Do With Stopping Climate Change?

Sustainably produced forest products have the potential to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity and enhance local livelihoods. But their value is underappreciated. Now, an online network called CanopyBridge, which brings together the sustainable sellers with interested buyers, is bringing these products to global markets.

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.

REDDX: Keeping Track Of Forest Carbon Finance In 2015

The coming year will be a pivotal one for climate finance, and especially for forests, as more than $7 billion is set to cumulatively flow to forest-protection efforts aimed at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) before the year is over. Here’s what we know about past flows in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania and Vietnam.

The Environmental Mortgage: Connecting The Dots Between Microfinance And Ecosystem Services

While microfinance models have been hugely successful on a global scale in providing the means for people to escape extreme poverty, they aren’t often used to finance payments for ecosystem services projects that offer many poverty alleviating benefits. Despite it being risky and costly, both sectors see potential in working together on a larger scale.

Paiter-Surui Take Stock Of Community Fund Charged With Managing Finances

In late 2013, the Paiter-Surui indigenous people of the Amazon earned carbon offsets for protecting their forest, and the Surui Fund – which is a governance apparatus developed to manage community finances – began disbursing that income internally in 2014. Some village and clan leaders, however, say the Fund isn’t functioning as it should, and have called for a review.

Norway Pledge Brings Green Climate Fund To $9.95 Billion

The Green Climate Fund is now within $50 million of the $10 billion goal that most observers see as the bare minimum to achieve credibility at climate talks in Lima. The fund is designed to handle roughly $100 billion in climate finance annually.