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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.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

10 April 2014 | California carbon market watchers on the lookout for any sign that the US state is still on a path to accepting international offsets from Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD) got a pretty good one when a California Air Resources Board (ARB) official stepped up to the plate at the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in San Francisco last month. In front of a packed and eager crowd, the ARB’s Jason Gray stated publicly that the agency will continue considering allowing REDD offsets into its cap-and-trade program.

“The world is watching to see if California is going to implement REDD or not,” said Daniel Nepstad, Senior Scientist and Executive Director of the Earth Innovation Institute.

REDD project development and accounting frameworks have matured in the voluntary market over the last five years, with $70 million worth of transactions in 2012, according to Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013 report. However, supply of REDD offsets still far outstrips demand, and experts such as Nepstad say that a compliance market’s inclusion of REDD would have a “magnifier effect” in terms of sending the signal to developing countries that their efforts to reduce deforestation will indeed be compensated. In July 2013, California signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on REDD with the states of Acre, Brazil and Chiapas, Mexico.

“California is obviously not going to buy all of Brazil’s credits, but putting a signal that says there is a compliance carbon market out there that accepts this and here’s what the rules look like would be enormously powerful,” said Steve Schwartzman, Director of Tropical Forest Policy at Environmental Defense Fund.

Eighty percent of the world’s REDD offsets originated in Latin America in 2012. According to Forest Trends’ REDDX Initiative data, the Andean countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are among the countries where the highest percentage of committed REDD funding has actually been dispersed. Of the more than $111 million pledged to these three countries from international agencies, domestic governments, foundations, and companies, nearly half has been delivered. In Peru, where almost half of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from deforestation, a nested (or jurisdictional) approach could give coherence to the 41 REDD projects that currently exist.

Forest Trends’ Katoomba XX event in Peru on April 22-23 will serve as an important precursor to the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Lima, where countries will build on last year’s progress in developing a REDD+ Rulebook. Titled Climate, Forests, Water, and People: A Vision of Development for Tropical America, the event will bring together a unique cast of characters to identify opportunities for climate policy and finance to align with other public and private investments in forest carbon and other ecosystem services. If you’re able to make it to Lima for the public event, you may register for Katoomba XX here, through April 11.

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.


News

INTERNATIONAL POLICY

REDDy when opportunity knocks

Protecting and restoring forests may not only represent an important strategy to mitigate climate change, but also an opportunity for the private sector to drive a transition to a green economy, especially in Latin America. In an op-ed in the Huffington Post, Renat Heuberger of South Pole Carbon writes that “countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica are already moving ahead with laws that are putting a price on carbon, which will ultimately increase the attractiveness of low-carbon investments.” Voluntary purchases are indeed catching on: The Forestal San José / South Pole reforestation project was the first in Colombia to be certified under CarbonFix (now Gold Standard), and NOEL, a Colombian cookies and chocolates company, bought offsets from the project.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Are we there yet?

Though Luis Guillermo Solis, Costa Rica’s newly elected president as of Sunday, announced early this year on the campaign trail that the country could not reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Energy declared last week that Costa Rica was actually within 19% of the target. The progress towards neutrality comes mainly from forest protection and reforestation, with forests covering more than half of Costa Rica’s land area, offsetting 81% of the country’s emissions. René Castro, Minister of Environment, estimates that the remaining 19% could be achieved by reducing emissions from transportation and industry.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Forest focus in humanity’s birthplace

Ethiopia has big dreams: to become a low-carbon and middle-income economy by 2025. REDD is a part of that strategy, and last week the country launched a two-year capacity-building project to use satellite imagery to measure carbon absorption capacity across 900,000 hectares and to train personnel in monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV). The €400,000 project will be carried out by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Forestry in collaboration with German partners Blackbridge, Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, and Gesellschaft fí¼r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The government has renamed the Environmental Protection Agency the Ministry of Environment and Forest, reflecting the new focus on forest protection.

FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

Let’s bond

A recent publication by Forest Trends proposes a new mechanism called Jurisdictional REDD Bonds that aims to jump-start the infusion of much-needed REDD+ capital to forest conservation projects. The paper illustrates how payments of $5 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent over 10-15 years for meeting emissions reduction targets in Brazilian states would cover the interest rates that states would have to pay to bondholders. “Our proposal is that Jurisdictional REDD+ Bonds would have the yield and risk characteristics that investors are used to seeing in Brazilian or Colombian or other sovereign bonds,” Rupert Edwards, one of the report authors, wrote. Countries with poorer credit ratings would need additional protection for investors from a financial body such as the World Bank.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Degradation decoded

It’s no April Fools’ joke: Researchers at Winrock International have developed a unique method for estimating carbon emissions from forest degradation caused by selective logging in tropical forests –published in the academic journal Environmental Research Letters on April 1. While methods for estimating emissions from deforestation exist, this is the first robust methodology for forest degradation. Based on extracted volume, it considers the country context, incidental damage to the surrounding forest, and logging infrastructures such as roads. The methodology has been tested in six countries and “belies the notion that all REDD+ accounting must be based on remote sensing,” said co-author Sandra Brown. Average emissions from degradation are about 12% of those from deforestation, the study finds, though the range is wide (6-68%).

Cool and smart

The Cool Farm Institute’s Cool FarmTool allows farmers to calculate emissions savings online by entering parameters such as the farm and field area, planted crops, and fertilizer and machinery use. The tool was originally developed by Unilever and the University of Aberdeen. The institute and the Gold Standard Foundation have signed an MOU to make the tool eligible as a carbon accounting methodology for climate-smart agriculture. “Farmers will be able to evaluate not only which practices are more efficient and more climate smart than others, they can directly reward their efforts by obtaining Gold Standard carbon credits,” said Pieter van Midwoud, Business Director of Gold Standard Land Use & Forests. Details on when and how the combined tool could be used are to come.

HUMAN DIMENSION

Happy 1st Birthday

Launched in April 2013, REDD+ Community, an online learning platform through the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Forest and Climate Programme has grown to 650+ members in more than 50 countries. The platform includes monthly webinars, and any member can post a conversation topic. “We need to ensure that ideas (individual and collective) are made explicit, clear and accessible to the collective,” Breen Byrnes of WWF program wrote in the Huffington Post last week. “For example, we need to make sure that a case study from a REDD+ project in Nepal can be shared with a policymaker who is negotiating at an international policy conference, and use it as evidence of something that does or does not work in the real world.”

REDD war or peace?

In a recent op-ed, Janpeter Schilling of KlimaCampus and Janani Vivekananda of International Alert argue that “REDD+ is still a fairly new mechanism, but so far, it pays too little attention to its potential contribution to peace or conflict.” REDD+ could contribute to peace by strengthening community land rights and reducing poverty, sometimes by providing employment to local residents as forest monitors and guards. The flip side is that the opportunity for short-term monetary gains could aggravate existing conflicts over land ownership and forest access. For instance, in Bangladesh, community representatives say that any restrictions on use of the Sundarbans mangrove forest puts stress on their livelihoods.

STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGY

Seeding the inner cities

Urban trees play an important role in sequestering carbon. California allows urban forestry projects to produce offsets for its cap-and-trade program, but development has been virtually non-existent in both the voluntary and compliance markets due to substantial costs and other challenges. The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) is hoping to change that by revamping its urban forestry protocol to expand the scope of eligible projects beyond street trees and establish a set of environmental and social co-benefits for projects by public entities, among other things. CAR is accepting comments on the proposed revisions through April 25.

VCS on fire

Some forest carbon projects may cross all their t’s and dot all their i’s, but as forest fire risks increase with climate change, there is still the chance that they will (literally) go up in flames. To incentivize fire management practices such as controlled burns, the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) last month released its New Fire Management Methodology for public comment. Developed by Value for Nature Consulting on behalf of the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy of Tanzania, the methodology applies to the Eastern Miombo woodlands in Tanzania and Mozambique. The comment period on the methodology is open through April 24.

In step with ‘insetting’

A video from Plan Vivo Standard introduces the concept of carbon ‘insetting’ – or creating emissions reductions projects within a supply chain or business network. “This new approach is an example of shared value creation. It’s based on the idea of forming new positive relationships, but seeks to create carbon reductions from within an existing network,” Richard Tepper of Ecometrica explained in the video. One company example is Source Climate Change Coffee, which is working with 30 communities of mestizo and Mayan Plan Vivo farmers in Mexico to plant trees, therefore neutralizing the carbon footprint of the coffee production.

Grazing for soil

Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative program has released a proposed methodology that would allow soil carbon sequestration projects in grazing systems. Developers would have to estimate sequestration by measuring changes in soil carbon stocks based on specified soil sampling and analysis techniques. Eligible land management activities could include converting from cropland to permanent pasture, changing pasture species composition or changing grazing patterns. But the methodology specifically excludes some activities such as certain types of tillage that would result in significant GHG emissions and undermine the project’s soil carbon sequestration. The proposal is open for public consultation until May 6.

PUBLICATIONS

Business savvies in the Amazon

A new report entitled Lessons from the edge: What companies can learn from a tribe in the Amazon portrays the big challenges that businesses face in today’s economy and how these could be successfully addressed by following the example of the Surui, a tribe of the Brazilian Amazon. Published by the Deloitte Center for the Edge, the report looks at how the Surui have thrived by ‘cultivating their talent’, ‘leveraging their resources’, and ‘staging their moves’. Since Chief Almir first saw his tribe in the context of Google Earth in 2007, the tribe has forged more than 50 partnerships – including ones with the US Agency for International Development and Natura, the cosmetics giant that bought carbon offsets from their forest project.

CliffsNotes for REDD

A new manual, The Knowledge and Skills Needed to Engage in REDD+: A Competencies Framework, aims to break down the complexities of REDD into a simple document that makes sense even to those who do not live and die with these projects. The manual, compiled by a coalition of NGOs, breaks REDD+ down into 10 themes, each of which builds on the one before it, and provides just enough information to frame the issues central to each theme before closing with links to resources available on the Internet.

Survival of the best prepared

The policymaker summary of the climate change ‘impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability’ section of the International Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report was approved at a workshop in Yokohama, Japan in late March. The verdict? Climate change is here and will be here, and we need to adapt – especially in the most vulnerable regions. Major world crops such as maize, which has trouble at temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius, will suffer, but agroforestry techniques could play an important role in cooling fields.

Bolsa Floresta flourishing

A recent study published on Bolsa Floresta, a program that pays families for conservation and sustainable community development, showed a decrease in deforestation and livelihood improvement in the communities where it has been implemented. The authors of the study – officials with the Center for International Forestry Research, Fundaçí£o Amazonas Sustentí¡vel, and Zentrum fí¼r Entwicklungsforschung – advise that the program could be developed in other communities as long as it is adjusted to their particular situations.

JOBS

Portfolio Manager – ClimateCare

Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the Portfolio Manager will play a key role in management of ClimateCare’s Verified Emission Reduction portfolio, also covering some other offset types and helping to tailor bespoke carbon portfolios for new and existing clients. The successful candidate will have strong Excel skills, a commercial and proactive approach, excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to manage a high work load effectively and independently.

Read more about the position (and others from ClimateCare) here

REDD+ Governance Manager, Zambia –BioCarbon Partners

Based in Luangwa Valley, Zambia, the Governance Manager will be responsible for developing relationships with local stakeholders and engaging community-based forest governance organizations. The ideal candidate will have a master’s degree or equivalent, at least five years experience in resource management, REDD, community development or rural outreach, and be a Zambian citizen.

Read more about the position here

Junior Analyst – Face the Future

Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Junior Analyst will support Face the Future’s Investment Management Team’s efforts and initiatives to expand their portfolio and raise capital. This will include research on strategic investment activities, helping to implement a business development strategy, and negotiating and carrying out due diligence to manage the investment process. The successful candidate will have one to two years of previous work experience in management consulting or a related area, hold an advanced degree in business administration or a similar field, and be fluent in English.

Read more about the position here

REDD+ Team Leader – Österreichische Bundesforste AG Consulting

Based in Togo, the team leader will support REDD+ readiness and forest rehabilitation in the country. The successful candidate will have at least eight years of work experience in forest inventories through remote sensing; have a detailed knowledge of REDD MRV, reference levels, and safeguards; and be fluent in French.

Read more about the position here

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

 

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