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From the Editors

In just one week, thousands of people – among them two of our own Ecosystem Marketplace reporters – will descend on Paris in hopes of hammering out a global climate change agreement by mid-December.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the negotiations “will go ahead with reinforced security measures” after the November 13 terrorist attacks in the city killed 129 people. U.S. President Barack Obama and other heads of state still plan to attend. However, the side events associated with the 21st climate talks may be toned down, and the Peoples’ Climate March scheduled for November 29 and expected to draw 200,000 people has been canceled.

The core negotiating sessions, though, are definitely on, and market-based mechanisms including REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) are currently a part of the draft negotiating text.

At a recent Paris preview hosted by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, International Emissions Trading Association president Dirk Forrister laid out the major things to look for regarding markets in the agreement. One is the idea of a “do no harm” approach for markets, meaning that the Paris text would leave the door open for carbon trading should parties choose to use it. Forrister said that a simple statement that parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could transfer a portion of their emissions reduction obligations to other parties would go a long way, especially since many developing nations say they could reduce more emissions with the help of international finance.

Another open question is about the market infrastructure: whether it would be centralized, like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), or decentralized, with different rules in different jurisdictions.

“Having a UN standardized system for awarding a carbon offset, that would be a lot better than them [medium-sized countries] trying to do it themselves and then marching around to see who would buy it,” Forrister said. “That’s what is at stake: how many different rulebooks do you have?”

REDD+ will also be a part of the discussions in Paris, but the talks won’t be technical since a June meeting in Bonn ironed out the remaining sticking points on safeguards, non-carbon benefits, and non-market approaches. They also might not necessarily be about markets, per se.

As detailed in a new report by REDDX, an initiative of Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends, bilateral finance for REDD+ – finance that is performance-based but falls outside of traditional carbon market mechanisms – is on the rise, with more than $1.1 billion paid to countries such as Brazil and Guyana for achieved emissions reductions. Norway and Germany are the top donor countries to REDD+, the report finds, and also are the two main funders of performance-based payments. We may see new a few new donor country pledges to REDD+ in Paris, REDDX program manager Gustavo Silva-Chavez said in a press call on Thursday.

More news about the carbon markets is summarized below, so keep reading...

 
   

HERE's the deal

End of a new road

Chevrolet announced the end of its five-year Carbon Reduction Initiative to offset unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. The company has purchased and retired 8,068,681 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, making Chevrolet the largest known voluntary offset buyer, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s analysis of 2012-2013 CDP disclosures. Reflecting on his experience, General Motors Sustainability Director David Tulauskas spelled out some lessons learned, which may sound familiar to others in the market: creating a methodology is messy business, mainstreaming carbon is still needed, and offsetting is only a stepping stone in efforts to create lasting efficiencies. He ended with a challenge: If GM can do it, you can do it. But he did not mention whether GM will renew their offsetting program.

Neutral lawmakers…in one sense

In light of the upcoming talks in Paris, the European Parliament announced it will expand its current offsetting program to become 100% carbon neutral starting in 2016. While the announcement widens the coverage to all irreducible carbon emissions, it does have a cap in the form of funding. Currently, the plan has earmarked up to €250,000 to pay for offsets. The offsets must be registered under both the UNFCCC and the Gold Standard, with a requirement to source tonnes from African, Caribbean and Pacific states first. If adhered to, the offsetting plan will make the European Parliament the first European Union institution to become carbon neutral.

A Lite touch

The Brooklyn-based clean cookstove startup BioLite has become carbon neutral by retiring offsets from its own Gold Standard verified projects before selling any to other end-users. “It was time for us to take responsibility for our own practices and follow the same calls to environmental stewardship we ask of our customers every day,” said founder and CEO Jonathan Cedar. The organization conducted an internal carbon analysis and identified an aggregated footprint of 2,921 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted by the company between 2012 and 2014 due to raw material use, stove manufacturing, and corporate travel. As of November 17, the company offset its full emissions history and plans to do so going forward.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Live to offset another day

The Indigenous Land Corporation’s (ILC) Fish River project was one of 131 projects that sold into Australia’s second Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction (see below). The savanna burning project is contracted to deliver 115,000 tonnes over the next five years. "[However] if there's a change of government next year we could be back to the drawing board in terms of what that might mean to carbon policy going forward," warned Emma Pethybridge of ILC. Other contracts awarded through the auction included: 104,927 tonnes to Wesfarmers to change its lighting to LED; 715,000 tonnes to Consolidated Pastoral Company to do early burning on its cattle properties; and 362,500 tonnes to Pacific National for a fuel savings program for its rail fleet.

Policy Watch

Happy carbon farmers

The results are in for Australia’s second ERF auction, held on November 4-5. The government purchased more than 45 million emissions reductions for a total value of AU$557 million, with the average offset price coming in at AU$12.25. A total of 131 projects secured contracts, with land-use projects accounting for 80% of the paid-for tonnes. Nicholas Cameron of Country Carbon said some landowners were in tears over their successful bid and took their first vacation in years. However, Ben Keogh of Australian Carbon Traders is worried about the low price. “It’s getting close to the cost of production,” he said.

Three’s a crowd

The Canadian province of Ontario released details on the proposed design of its cap-and-trade program and is soliciting public comments over the next few weeks. The document states that “Ontario intends to allow use of offsets for compliance in its program, and to take account of protocols for project types currently accepted in Quebec and California,” in anticipation of linking the three cap-and-trade programs. The province proposes to limit offset use to up to 8% of compliance entities’ emissions obligation, as in California. The overall goal of the regulation is to reduce Ontario’s emissions 15% under 1990 levels by 2020.

CARBON FINANCE

Bond, Green Bond

“Green” bonds, which refer to any bond issued to finance an environmentally friendly endeavor, tripled in value to $38 billion last year, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative. French power company Engie and consumer goods giant Unilever are among the private sector entities that issued large green bonds. The concept has attracted the attention of a consortium of major banks, including JPMorgan & Chase, Citi, Bank of America, and Crédit Agricole, which created a set of Green Bond Principles which cover the use of proceeds and best practies for transparency. A report by Forest Trends’ Public-Private Co-Finance Initiative last year explored the idea of jurisdictional REDD+ bonds in Latin America.

Human Dimension

Moral perils

National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent Lourdes Garcio-Navarro and producer Lauren Migaki recently flew to the Brazilian Amazon to report on drought and deforestation. Then they started to feel a little guilty about the carbon emissions associated with the several plane rides it took to cover a climate change story. So they worked with NPR’s Planet Money team to figure out whether they could offset the trip. The investigation took them back to the very beginning of carbon offsetting and to Sheryl Smith, who in 1987 was working for coal power plant builder AES and was asked to figure out how to offset the company’s impact. She came up with planting trees. Listen to the story here.

Sky’s eyes

SkyTruth, a grassroots remote sensing company, made its name when it exposed that the BP oil spill was spreading faster than the company originally let on. In a recent interview, founder John Amos and chief technical officer Paul Woods spoke about the proliferation of Cubesats, or mini satellites that will soon provide high-resolution satellite data at a fraction of the former cost. “It’s wonderful and terrifying that suddenly, data is not going to be a problem,” said Woods. They cite the deforestation tracker Global Forest Watch as an example of ‘tipping and cueing’: the technique of scanning the whole world at low resolution and then honing in on places where you want more detail.

New Research

Harsher than Yelp reviews

New data released this week finds that the world is not on track to meet the New York Declaration on Forests’ goal of halving deforestation by 2020 and halting it completely by 2030. In its annual results report, the Global Canopy Programme’s Forest 500 rating system finds that only 8% of “powerbroker” companies have zero or zero net deforestation commitments in place. Only six companies – Danone, Kao Corp, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, and Nestlé – achieved the highest possible score of ‘5’. Five companies – Astra Agro Lestari, Groupe Eram, Grupo Bimbo, Mewah International, and News Corp – improved their scores by two points over the last year. Read the report here and view company-reported progress on deforestation commitments at Supply-Change.org

Full of potential

Downstream algae blooms and the high global warming potential of nitrous oxide have caused the Environmental Protection Agency to rank nutrient pollution as one of the U.S.’s most costly and widespread environmental challenges. A new report by the Oregon-based The Climate Trust thinks that carbon finance may help incentive farmers to reduce the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers. The report found that transitioning to best-use practices could generate up to 2.7 million offsets – equivalent of taking more than half a million inefficient cars off the road. The Climate Trust’s estimates are based on a scenario in which 10-15% of the land area planted for corn in the U.S. adopts nutrient stewardship practices, an uptake level they say is ambitious for a nascent market.

 

JobS

Senior Program Associate, Public-Private Finance Initiative – Forest Trends

Based in Washington, D.C., the Senior Program Associate will play a leading role in conducting a conservation investment survey with the Ecosystem Marketplace team and work with the Public-Private Finance Initiative to engage financial institutions and commodity companies. The successful candidate will have five or more years of work experience, with a minimum of two years of experience in financial investment, banking, or financial management consulting.

- Read more about the position here

Environmental Legal Analyst – Carbon Credit Capital

Based in New York City, New York, the Environmental Legal Analyst will solve legal questions regarding accessing the global carbon market and perform policy analysis and weekly reports on the latest developments in China. The successful candidate will have a master's degree or equivalent in environmental law, communications, or English; an entrepreneurial spirit; and a good understanding of carbon and renewable energy voluntary markets.

- Read more about the position here

Marketing & Communications Assistant – Gold Standard

Based in Switzerland, the Marketing & Communications Assistant will support the marketing team in executing the Gold Standard’s global marketing strategy, maintain its website, manage its social media channels, and more. The successful candidate will have a degree in marketing or communications, a working knowledge of InDesign and PhotoShop, good knowledge of website content management systems such as Drupal, and a good spirit and desire to help a small NGO make a difference in the world.

- Read more about the position here

Software Engineer, Global Forest Watch – World Resources Institute

Based in Washington, D.C. or San Francisco, California, the software engineer will write, test, and document high quality code using various languages and libraries such as Python/ArcPy, SQL, PostGIS, and GDAL for Global Forest Watch, an interactive online forest monitoring platform. The successful candidate will have 3-5 years of relevant work experience, a proven ability with pogramming, and strong communications and documentation skills for both internal and external audiences. Experience with remote sensing and big data architectures like Hadoop and Spark is a plus.

- Read more about the position here

Director, Programmatic Communications – Ceres

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the Director of Programmatic Communications will oversee targeted, proactive positioning of Ceres in mobilizing networks of investors, companies, and public interest groups to accelerate the adoption of sustainable business practices. The successful candidate will have 10 years of experience in nonprofit communications, marketing and media relations, at least three years of experience supervising staff, and a track record of high-level relationships with key external partners.

- Read more about the position here

   
   

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. 

ABOUT FOREST TRENDS

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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