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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Quebec’s Carbon Market Rebounds After California Hook Up

Quebec’s first auction of carbon allowances last year was deemed a bit of a snooze-fest as buyers only snapped up about a third of available allowances, but demand soared in last week’s provincial auction following its linkage to California’s cap-and-trade system.

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Event Marks World’s First Interstate Water Quality Trading Project

The Ohio River Basin Trading Project is the world’s only interstate water quality trading program and on  March 11, the Electric Power Research Institute, which created the initiative, will host an event to showcase the project’s first water nutrient credits. 

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This Week In V-Carbon: Driving Down New Paths

Automaker Chevrolet’s announcement about a new carbon offset program aimed at US colleges and universities capped off a particularly busy week. The Verified Carbon Standard launched a new tool for estimating leakage in reduced emissions from REDD+ programs and the California Air Resources Board reaffirmed its commitment to considering international sector-based offsets such as REDD.

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REDD Still On California’s Radar

Market participants have been growing increasingly pessimistic about the possibility of offsets from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) making it into California’s cap-and-trade program. But REDD credits may yet have a fighting chance, as officials with the California Air Resources Board confirmed that they will continue considering adding international sector-based offsets to the program.

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Higher Ed To Get Cleaner, More Efficient, With Boost From Chevrolet

Chevrolet has been one of the most active and prominent buyers of carbon credits in the voluntary market in recent years. Now a potentially game-changing new program financed by the automaker aims to reward US-based colleges and universities for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects undertaken via a new methodology under the Verified Carbon Standard.

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House Passes Farm Bill With
Conservation Requirements Intact

After a year of stalling and deliberation, the US House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill. And despite some cuts to conservation programs and funding and no mention of ecosystem markets, it is being considered a win for the environment. One reason is the bill’s conservation rules on crop insurance premiums.

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This Week In V-Carbon: Greening In The New Year

Despite the cold start here in D.C., January is blooming with carbon news. Quebec and California started off the year by officially linking markets, while a sustainable agriculture project in Kenya became the first to verify credits from carbon sequestration in soils under VCS in mid-January. These new developments only enhance 2013’s top stories, also featured in this Special 2014 New Year Edition.

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New Paper Offers Guidance On Wetland Mitigation Banking Risks

Wetland mitigation banking is a growing industry in the US but its complexities run deep and as of right now, it lacks a proper analysis evaluating the risk facing both bankers and regulators.  But two industry analysts are making progress with a paper offering guidance on market risks. Here is a brief summary of the 22 risks the authors discuss. 

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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. 

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This Week In Biodiversity: Sorting Out Federal Policy On Mitigation

The Department of Interior seeks a department-wide strategy to mitigation while the conservation banking industry argues over a controversial plan that includes a special 4(d) rule for lesser prairie chicken conservation.  Also, Ecosystem Marketplace released a briefing offering guidance to the private sector on nature-based investments. 

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A New Strategy To Improve Water Quality One Targeted Watershed At A Time

Government programs aimed at reducing pollution from farming activities in the Mississippi River Basin have traditionally operated on a farm scale. However the World Resources Institute has been studying a different type of initiative that uses a landscape approach targeting critical watersheds and finds the project has serious potential to improve water quality throughout US waterways. 

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California Players Predict Offset Market Growth in 2014

A new report by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) gives California’s cap-and-trade program high marks for a successful first year. While activity in the offset market was slow to develop in 2013, EDF and other market experts are predicting greater trading activity in the New Year, if the market can overcome the invalidation risk imposed by state regulators.

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2013: The Year In Biodiversity And Wetlands

The year is winding down and the top stories of 2013 in biodiversity and wetlands may be the biggest headlines of 2014 as many of them remain unresolved. The lawsuits in Louisiana over their coastal wetlands are ongoing as is the decision over how best to conserve the dwindling prairie chicken.  Here’s a look back.      

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2013: The Year In Biodiversity And Wetlands

The year is winding down and the top stories of 2013 in biodiversity and wetlands may be the biggest headlines of 2014 as many of them remain unresolved. The lawsuits in Louisiana over their coastal wetlands are ongoing, as is the decision over how best to conserve the dwindling prairie chicken.  Here’s a look back.      

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FWS Revises Rule On Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation To Include WAFWA Plan

A new plan seeking inclusion into the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s special rule proposal on lesser prairie chicken (as opposed to greater prairie chicken) conservation is facing opposition from some in the conservation banking sector who argue the plan’s voluntary program that relies on untested methods will not deliver needed results. 

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Department of Interior Seeks A More Inclusive and Effective Mitigation Policy

The Department of Interior is attempting to establish a department wide mitigation strategy that will protect natural resources as the US prepares for an expected rise in development projects on public land. The new strategy aims to streamline the mitigation process with better coordination between the different sectors involved. 

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Pricing Carbon Not Just A Fad, Says CDP

Establishing an internal carbon price is becoming standard operating practice, with 29 of the top global corporations disclosing a price on carbon pollution in the latest reports to the CDP. If more companies actually want to implement an internal carbon fee, technology giant Microsoft has some sound advice on exactly how to do it.

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Wetlands Carbon Credits Could Swim Into California Market

After overseeing the creation of a wetlands restoration methodology for the Mississippi Delta, the American Carbon Registry and partners are developing a new carbon offset protocol to quantify greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the restoration of California deltaic and coastal wetlands and turn those into credits for both the voluntary and the state compliance markets.

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Can Conservation Banking Save The Prairie Chicken?

Its habitat fragmented and shrinking, the Lesser Prairie Chicken has seen its numbers plunge from more than 34,000 at the beginning of last year to less than 18,000 in August. Here’s how a massive mitigation banking effort aims to save the bird by preserving and re-creating large swaths of contiguous prairie to achieve a sustainable, landscape level outcome for the species. 

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California Issues First Forest Carbon Offsets

The California Air Resources Board issued its first forest carbon offsets to two projects, Willits Woods and the Farm Cove. Both projects were early adopters to the forest protocol and both use improved forest management techniques to sequester carbon.  Companies that must reduce their emissions under California’s cap-and-trade system may use offsets for up to 8% of their requirements.

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Cap-and-Trade Is Not A Tax, California Court Says

A ruling by the Sacramento Superior Court affirms the legality of California’s cap-and-trade program. Cap-and-trade could raise as much as $12 billion to $70 billion for the state, but a judge last week ruled that the program does not constitute a tax, in part because the ‘license to emit’ does not come for free.

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Successful State Programs Could Influence EPA Power Plant Regs

The US Environmental Protection Agency has been giving citizens a chance to say what they believe regulations for existing power plants should look like. Those regs are due in June 2014, and a key question the EPA will have to answer is whether its rules will carve out a place for market-based carbon emissions reduction programs already implemented in 10 US states.

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In Warsaw As In California, Forest Carbon Carrot Needs Compliance Stick

Today’s voluntary forest projects have the capacity to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 1.4 billion tons over the next five years, but voluntary markets alone aren’t likely to generate that kind of demand. If compliance markets don’t start driving demand soon, we could lose many of the environmental benefits achieved to-date.

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This Week In Biodiversity: Ramping Up Candidate Species Conservation Incentives

New developments in the species banking sector from a case study on developing a market for gopher tortoise habitat credits to approval of a five-state incentives-based plan for the lesser-prairie chicken. Meanwhile, the debate continues over if biodiversity offsets should be permitted in the UK. And remember to support Ecosystem Marketplace with a donation to the Forest Trends campaign in the Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.

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Why And How To Invest In Forested Landscapes

The United States faces an infrastructure crisis that will only get worse as climate change takes hold. Last month, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.

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This Week In V-Carbon: California Discusses Mine Methane Offsets

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) was expected to vote on several draft amendments to carbon market regulations last week, including the proposed Mine Methane Capture (MMC) offset protocol, but put off a vote in the context of lively debate. The delay could shrink the volume of offsets available during the second compliance period of the state’s cape-and-trade program.

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Why Do Mainstream Media Always Seem To Get REDD Wrong?

28 October 2013 | The American Tea Party hates Obamacare. They hate it with a visceral passion because it’s a government program that may – just may – succeed where the private sector failed. Such a success would invalidate basic Tea Party tenets, so they fight it with everything they have: a few rational points […]

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This Week In Water: A Good Month For Green Infrastructure

The past month saw movement in the green infrastructure space with an assessment on green infrastructure valuation tools and a $50 million fund slated to implement natural infrastructure upgrades in Chicago. Also this month, two papers from Forest Trends offering thoughts on the social impact assessment of investments in watershed services programs.

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EPA & Army Corps Propose Rulemaking On Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The proposed rule developed jointly by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Army Corps of Engineers on the Clean Water Act (CWA)  could bring millions of acres of wetlands under the authority of the CWA.  Meanwhile, the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP) has held three new webinars covering biodiversity offsetting in Australia and New Zealand.

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This Week In V-Carbon: Going Neutral

Japanese insurance company Nipponkoa just announced carbon neutrality for FY2012, purchasing 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in offsets. Meanwhile, Seattle City Light, the first carbon-neutral public utility in the US, is feeling climate change’s heat as the snowpack that feeds their hydroelectric dams melts off earlier; they purchase 100,000 to 300,000 tCO2e in offsets a year.

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George Shultz Calls for GOP “Climate Insurance Policy”

Former US Secretary of State George Shultz has long been a lonely (but not lone) proponent of climate action within the Republican Party. Bill Shireman of Future 500 says that Shultz’s proposal could win support among young Republicans, leading to a climate solution that the right and left can both agree on.

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Restoration vs. Renewable Energy: Amateurism Doesn’t Pay

Good land stewardship and energy efficiency both support our economy, but governments don’t pay nearly as much attention to the economic benefits of investment in environmental restoration as they do to investments in energy efficiency. Damon Hess of Sitka Technology argues that they should.

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International REDD Faces Uphill Battle in California in 2014

California once seemed all but certain to become the first compliance market to welcome offsets from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), but efforts to include international offsets still face political opposition. Here’s a quick status report.

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California, Quebec Carbon Deal Could Pave Way For Other Linkages

The US state of California and the Canadian province of Quebec have formally signed an agreement that will link their cap-and-trade programs beginning in January. The linkage could be the first step toward creation of a broader carbon trading program in North America.

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This Week In Water: With Water Energy Nexus, It’s Lead Or Be Led

Ecosystem Marketplace is at the One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles this week where everyone is thinking about the water-energy nexus. Meanwhile, Australia’s newly elected government reduces funds for Murray-Darling buybacks and Coca-Coca enters into a partnership with the USDA to protect US National Forests.

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California Air Resources Board Issues First Compliance Offset Credits

California’s cap-and-trade program took a step forward as the state’s Air Resources Board (ARB) delivered its first issuance of compliance offset credits for five ozone depleting substance destruction projects. The ARB will continue to issue credits twice monthly starting in October.  

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Disney To Expand
Voluntary Carbon Offset Buying

Already a major player in the voluntary carbon market, the Walt Disney Company is planning to expand its offset purchasing program to cover indirect emissions related to its operations. Disney has pledged to continue supporting new offset projects, particularly in the forestry sector, and has used the funds generated from its double-digit internal carbon prices to pay above-average prices for the credits.

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This Week In Biodiversity:
Firsts For US Wetland Banking; UK Ponders A National Offsets Program

The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a green paper on nationwide biodiversity offsets, although the paper has met with criticism from environmental groups arguing offsets should only be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted. In the US, a land swap in Minnesota between the government and an environmental investment firm could create the country’s largest wetland mitigation bank.

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California To Put Buyers On
The Hook For Forest Offsets

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is scheduled to sign off on a proposal to shift the invalidation risk away from forest owners to the buyers of offset credits from approved forestry projects next month. The regulators are aiming for consistency, but at least one major emitter is concerned that making buyers responsible for the risk will make it more difficult to purchase forestry offsets.

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In The Colorado Delta, A
Little Water Goes A Long Way

This Week is World Water Week and a coalition spanning the US-Mexico border is a perfect example of this year’s theme-water cooperation. The group is thinking outside the box to restore the Colorado River delta – using water rights markets, recaptured wastewater, and a groundbreaking new federal deal – that’s breathing new life into an ecosystem widely assumed to be gone forever.

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This Week In Water: Creative Cooperation

This week is World Water Week in Stockholm with this year’s theme focusing on water cooperation and building partnerships. Seminars, interviews and other features will be available online. Meanwhile, forest fires in the US west are bringing water-energy-food nexus thinking to the fore as the region’s energy and water supplies are vulnerable to wildfires and overall climate risk.  

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This Week In Forest Carbon:
California Delays Its Rice Cultivation Protocol

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) tabled its rice cultivation protocol for consideration next spring. While disappointed by the delay, many groups understood the need for better environmental safeguards and robust stakeholder engagement, as this protocol is set to be the first land-based offset protocol adopted by the ARB.

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This Week in Biodiversity: Australia’s Got Some Good News, and Some Bad News…

Australia streamlines biodiversity offsets at the state level in New South Wales, but the national Biodiversity Fund will be defunded to the tune of $231 million as a side effect of the country moving to a floating carbon price. Meanwhile, wetlands are on everyone’s mind in the Gulf of Mexico, and a new crowdfunding platform is launched.

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California Puts Rice Cultivation
Protocol On Ice

The California Air Resources Board has postponed plans to add a rice cultivation protocol to its cap-and-trade program until spring 2014, but it will move forward with consideration of a mine methane protocol this year. Here’s what participants and observers have to say. 

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Offsetting Not An Option In
Upcoming EPA Carbon Rules: NRDC

Forestry, land use and other types of offsets are likely to be shut out of the carbon regulations soon to be proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. But the Obama administration will be supporting such projects through other programs as part of its efforts to ensure the US follows through on its emissions reduction pledge.