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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Standoff Continues In South Korea’s New Carbon Markets

With no trading of allowances since mid-January, businesses regulated by South Korea’s cap-and-trade program have made their dislike of the carbon markets well known. That stand-off will likely end next year, as the first compliance deadline approaches, but analysts warn that a scarce supply of offsets may increase the costs for companies then.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lima To Invest $110 Million in Green Infrastructure And Climate Adaptation

The city of Lima made headlines around the world when it announced it was funneling some of its water fees into a program to restore pre-Incan structures that capture excess rainwater in the rainy season and redirect into the mountain, so that it’s available in the dry season. That program, however, is just a small part of a massive green infrastructure program that could serve as a model for cities around the world.

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Lima To Invest $110 Million in Green Infrastructure And Climate Adaptation

The city of Lima made headlines around the world when it announced it was funneling some of its water fees into a program to restore pre-Incan structures that capture excess rainwater in the rainy season and redirect into the mountain, so that it’s available in the dry season. That program, however, is just a small part of a massive green infrastructure program that could serve as a model for cities around the world.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Doubts Persist About Australia’s Climate Policy Shift Ahead Of First Emissions Reduction Auction

Australia drew the ire of the environmental community when it backed away from its carbon pricing program last year and established a nearly AU$2.6 billion Emissions Reduction Fund in its place. With the first auction coming up this week, critical issues still need to be resolved, including whether the funding will be sufficient to incentivize new emissions reduction projects.

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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.

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Climate Plans and the Role of Land Use: A Running Tab

As countries submit their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions – commitments known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs – ahead of this year’s international climate negotiations, the role of forests and land use in this agreement is still developing. This article will be updated often to offer summaries of how land use is included (or not) in INDCs as they are submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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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.

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Mexico Becomes First Developing Country To Post Climate Action Plan

Mexico on Friday became the first developing country to upload its proposed national climate action plan, known as its "Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution" (INDC) to the United Nations web site. The draft proposal foresees emissions peaking by 2026, and it comes on the heels of Norway’s submission on Thursday. The United States is expected to submit its proposal this week.

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WRI Launches New Tool For Tracking And Comparing National Climate Plans

As with any bureaucratic process, submitting the INDCs (Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions ) to the UN has been tied up in delays, extensions and some fudging. But earlier this week, the World Resources Institute launched the CAIT Paris Contributions Map to translate the submissions from wonkspeak into plain language, and also to map them in a way that will help us all keep score.

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Jurisdictional REDD: Getting To Scale

Forest-carbon projects are now conserving as much forested land as you’ll find in all of Malaysia. It’s a stunning achievement, but one that needs to get big fast if we’re to make a dent in global greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, jurisdictions like the Brazilian state of Acre are developing "jurisdictional REDD" programs to do just that.

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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

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This Week In Forest Carbon: Tax Revenue Builds Big PES Scheme In India

For the first time ever, India is including forest cover in its tax allocation formula earmarking $6 billion for results-based forest conservation-more than any other nation in the world. This means state government’s portion of tax revenue is partially dependent on how much forestland it has maintained.

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Myanmar Kills Forests To Plant Farms, Then Forgets To Farm

The four-year-old government of Myanmar came in with a big promise to boost the economy, in part by ramping up agricultural production. But so far, all it’s ramped up is deforestation – destroying some of the most biodiverse land in the world, and then not even planting the farms it had planned to develop.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).