News & Articles: Geographic North America

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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?

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California May Void Some Carbon Offsets After Investigation

The California Air Resources Board is moving to invalidate more than 230,000 ozone-depleting substances offsets generated at an Arkansas facility. Although the ARB invalidated a relatively small fraction of the 4.3 million ODS offsets being investigated, one of the project developers believes the regulators’ interpretation of the rules to be incorrect and will seek a reversal before a final decision is made.

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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.

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DDOE Approves Trade For First Of Its Kind Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Program

Washington D.C.’s Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) trading program hit a milestone this month. D.C.’s District Department of the Environment approved the first trade of the program-11, 013 SRCs worth $25,000. The program allows property owners who voluntarily implement green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff to earn credits and generate revenue.

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This Week In Biodiversity: A Pre-Listed Species Credit Policy Stirs Debate

The debate over voluntary conservation practices arises again as the FWS proposes a draft policy that allows landowners to earn credits for voluntarily conserving at-risk wildlife. On a separate note, a study attempts to build a protocol for natural capital accounting in Canada and a white paper looks at using performance-based approaches in the recently passed US Farm Bill.

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Verified Conservation Areas:
A Real-Estate Market For Biodiversity?

A power company in Germany can use forest-carbon from Brazil to offset emissions because carbon offsets are standardized units, but an American city that damages the habitat of endangered species in Arizona has no such option – in part because habitat is as varied and localized as land itself. Frank Vorhies says VCAs are part of the solution.

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This Week In V-Carbon…

The Verified Carbon Standard does compliance in California (and beyond?), corporate buyers have lots of love for the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, and CO2EXCHANGE offers another option on the web for your offset purchasing predilections.

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VCS Sees REDD In California Carbon

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has received the full blessing of California regulators to pre-screen coal mine methane and other types of offset projects for the state’s regulated carbon trading program. However, the VCS hopes to take its participation in the California program even further by helping regulators pursue international REDD offsets using the VCS jurisdictional approach.

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California Wildfires Kill More Than Trees, And That May Help Us Prevent Them In The Future

One year ago this month, the infamous Rim Fire started burning in northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It raged for two full months and destroyed hundreds of homes and ecosystem services. Then something peculiar happened: the fire slowed when it hit the more naturally-managed Yosemite forest, offering one more key to help us manage our forests in a changing climate.

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Does Brazilian Deforestation Drive Drought In The United States?

California regulators overseeing the state’s cap-and-trade program now have one more reason to recognize offsets generated by saving endangered rainforest in Latin America. On Monday, they learned that the destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest will probably slash rainfall in the United States, depriving drought-choked California of even more drinking water.

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Biodiversity Backers Continue Push For Convergence In June

New guidance from the Center for Biological Diversity aims to integrate biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards while a study finds REDD+ isn’t delivering the positive outcome for wildlife as originally thought. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace continues to unfold its series on saving Indonesia’s forests and orangutan habitat from palm oil development.

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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.

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Voluntary Carbon Market Stalls, But Buyers See Silver Lining

Carbon market participants mulled findings from the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report at a presentation in Washington DC. Although overall volume declined as certain offset projects transitioned into regulated markets, the participants were buoyed by the momentum in favor of projects that have strong benefits beyond just emission reductions.

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This Week In V-Carbon News…

Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report took center stage this week. Panelists playing various roles in the marketplace came together in Washington, DC to discuss findings from the report – and where we go from here. Meanwhile, FIFA scored big with its commitment to a sustainable World Cup, and NASA will try again to launch its Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

This Week In V-Carbon News…

The Obama Administration last week released proposed rules for power plant emissions that are intended to be as flexible as possible while still being legally defensible. The news boosted allowance prices in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative while California and Quebec announced preparations for their first joint auction in November. Meanwhile, China is exploring ways to convert CDM offsets for use in their domestic emission trading systems.

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GreenTrees: Going The Extra Mile

Forest carbon projects sold to voluntary buyers were challenged in 2013 by stiff competition from cheaper offsets flooding the market. Chandler Van Voorhis, Managing Partner of project developer GreenTrees, thinks this is a short-term trend, but forest carbon project developers must still do a better job of selling the attractive attributes of their projects.

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Offset Invalidation Rules Tested In California Cap-and-Trade

California regulators charged with ensuring the integrity of the state’s cap-and-trade program are reviewing emissions reductions generated at an Arkansas facility that may have been in violation of its federal permit. Transactions involving offsets generated by projects at the facility have ground to a halt until the “disruptive” review is complete, as the regulators could potentially invalidate the offsets.

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US Federal Government Throws Its Weight Behind REDD

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) made a big splash in the carbon markets last week with the announcement that it will partially guarantee investments made by the Althelia Climate Fund for up to $133.8 million. But as agency officials made clear at the Carbon Expo conference in Germany, it’s no newcomer to the REDD space, having actively supported the development of projects in Colombia for years.

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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Early findings from our State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report show that REDD projects more than doubled their transaction volumes from 2012 to 22.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, at a $94 million value. REDD also got a boost last week when US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will guarantee the Althelia Climate Fund at $133.8 million.

This Week In Water: Breaking Down Nexus Silos

Businesses embrace the water energy nexus with innovative water-saving techniques and energy efficient measures. D.C. based non-profit, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, highlighted companies’ success stories in a recent report and event that took place in May. In other news, H&M’s water stewardship efforts in China face new challenges and the US West continues to practice water cooperation.

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US EPA Gives Major Boost To Cap-And-Trade, But Not Offsets

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heeded calls to give state and regional cap-and-trade programs a compliance role in its proposed rules for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants in the US. But the agency could not find a place for carbon offsets as a compliance mechanism in its proposal.

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The BioCarbon Group: Playing Both Sides

The BioCarbon Group is a major investor in cookstove and forestry emissions reduction projects for both the voluntary and regulated carbon markets in Europe and North America. Jason Patrick, Investment Director for the BioCarbon Group, talked with Gloria Gonzalez about a recent evolution in the corporate social responsibility world and its impact on the voluntary carbon markets.

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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.

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This Week In Biodiversity: NMEBC Coverage, No Net Loss And New Finance

Ecosystem Marketplace’s coverage of last week’s National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking conference includes a conversation with the incoming president of the National Mitigation Banking Association and a look at the Department of Interior’s new mitigation strategy. Outside of the conference, The Nature Conservancy and JP Morgan Chase launch an impact investment platform aiming to raise $1 billion for conservation projects. 

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Washington State Inching Closer To A Price on Carbon?

The US state of Washington could soon put a price on carbon, joining its Pacific Coast neighbor California in taking a step that the federal government has so far failed to take to address carbon pollution. The details are still being worked out, but many experts see Washington working hard to ensure that its system is compatible with California’s.

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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

Payments for reduced deforestation in Acre, Brazil have finally started to flow, four years after the state first passed its payment for ecosystem services law. In corporate news, major clothing brands H&M, Zara and Stella McCartney announced that they will find alternatives to fabrics sourced from endangered forests within three years. Personal products company Johnson & Johnson released a new palm oil sourcing policy to protect people and forests – a bold move considering the complexity of the company’s palm supply chain.

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Voices From Denver: Mitigation Bankers Discuss New Measures And Role Of NGOs

Thursday at the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference saw a lot of talk on species conservation specifically for the greater sage grouse and the recently listed lesser prairie chicken, with some disagreement over the best approach. Meanwhile, Ecosystem Marketplace chatted with new NMBA president Wayne White on the coming year.

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After Turbulent Year, Mitigation Bankers Meet In Denver

The annual National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference begins today in Denver and runs through the end of the week, capping a turbulent year that saw the emergence of controversial voluntary mitigation programs and the deployment of a new mitigation strategy by the Department of the Interior. Here are some of the issues we’ll be following.

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This Week In V-Carbon News…

The California Air Resources Board approves a new offset protocol for coal mine methane. But market participants say there is still more to be done with land-based offsets. The United Nations faces criticism over the administrative budget for the Clean Development Mechanism, while China and Africa look for alternatives to finance certified emissions reduction projects.

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California Welcomes Coal Mine Methane Emissions Reduction Projects

After a series of false starts, California regulators have finally added a new type of emissions reduction project into their regulated carbon market: mine methane capture. They also approved a change that would make the buyers of emissions reductions from forestry projects responsible for replacing the offsets if the projects turn out to be problematic.

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Department Of Interior Scales Up Its Mitigation Strategy

In order to solve big picture issues like climate change and invasive species, the Department of Interior is scaling up its new approach to mitigation to a landscape level aiming to increase certainty in the process as well as improve conservation results. The Department’s report was released earlier this month. 

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California Hunting Agriculture, Forestry Emissions Reductions

California has adopted bold greenhouse gas reduction goals, and state regulators see emission reductions from carbon offset projects, including from agriculture and forestry projects, as a vital factor in achieving these goals. But bringing more of these types of projects into the state’s regulated carbon market is challenging because of the high costs involved.

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Can Oregon and Washington Price Carbon Pollution?

Pacific Coast neighbors British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington have joined forces to take on the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region. But Oregon and Washington so far lack what some argue is a key element to any viable attack plan: a price on carbon pollution. Can they get there and can they flesh out an expanded role for carbon offsets?

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This Week In Biodiversity: Mitigation Policy Matures

While several from the mitigation banking space welcome the EPA and Corps’ proposed rule on clarifying waters protected under the Clean Water Act, the decision is far from final. On a separate policy front, the lesser prairie chicken has been listed under the ESA as threatened.

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Which Voluntary Emissions Reduction Projects Will California Tap Next?

The voluntary carbon market has been the breeding ground for offset project types welcomed into California’s regulated carbon market, which many say will face a shortage of offsets in its second phase. Market participants, including an official at one of the largest publicly-owned utilities in the United States, say it is critical for California regulators to quickly welcome even more voluntary project types. 

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This Week In Forest Carbon News…

The California Air Resources Board stated publicly that the agency will continue considering allowing REDD offsets into its cap-and-trade program, which could provide key demand for Latin American supply. And lots of news on standards and methodology development this week.

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Buying Hope And Time For Coral Reef

Between now and August, we’ll be examining the economic benefits of coral reefs and financing mechanisms designed to help preserve them. Here’s a look at the other side of that equation: what it costs to maintain them, and the challenge of meeting that cost through conventional means.

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California Issues First Forestry Compliance Offsets

The Yurok Indian tribe became the first organization to cross the finish line in getting forestry compliance offsets approved by California’s cap-and-trade program. And the first issuance was a big one, with the tribe receiving 836,619 offsets for an improved forest management project on tribal lands.

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California: Last Chance to Propel Forest Conservation Projects to the Next Level?

About 13 million hectares of tropical forests are being lost every year – despite the best efforts of many committed stakeholders. California could take efforts to combat this trend to the next level by allowing projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to count as offsets in its carbon market, according to supporters of these projects. But is the US state ready to take that step?

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Climate Action Reserve Plans User-Friendly Makeover of Urban Forest Protocol

Urban forestry helps keep US cities green and their air clean. For this, urban foresters can earn carbon offsets that reflect their pro-climate contributions. Though these offsets could be sold to voluntary buyers or even into California’s carbon market, urban forestry offset projects have been underutilized due to high costs and technicalities. The Climate Action Reserve is hoping to change that.

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Lesser Prairie Chicken Listed As Threatened Under ESA

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they are listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act but landowners and oil and gas companies enrolled in approved voluntary conservation efforts will be exempt from ESA regulations under a special 4(d) rule.

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Grow Rice, Not Methane: California May Tap Voluntary Markets

On Monday, regulators from California’s Air Resources Board discussed a proposed protocol that, if approved in September, would accept offsets from methane-reducing rice projects into the state’s cap-and-trade program. The American Carbon Registry just listed the first rice project – expected to reduce 1,400 cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

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RGGI Roars Back to Life With Record Carbon Prices

Left for dead for years, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) soared to record heights after a major overhaul of the program gave market participants new confidence in its longevity. RGGI could receive another major boost if the US Environmental Protection Agency decides that the cap-and-trade program can be used for compliance with its upcoming greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants.

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Ecosystem Markets May Soon Top $1 Billion In Canada

Quebec’s new  carbon market could push the volume of Canada’s ecosystem markets over the $1 billion mark by 2016, according to a new report that says volume may have topped $600 million in 2012.