HERE’S THE DEAL
UK-based law firm Freshfields recently announced that it will support the International Small Group Tree Planting Program (known as TIST) in Uganda and Kenya for 10 years. The initiative is expected to incentivize small farmers to plant two million trees, which will result in an anticipated 200,000 tonnes of reduced carbon emissions over a decade. Freshfields has been carbon neutral since 2007 but this marks an extension of its commitment, according to Natural Capital Partners, an offset retailer that is working with the firm on its strategy. TIST is run by the Clean Air Action Corporation, which also works in Tanzania and India.
- Read more from Natural Capital Partners
Give seagrass a chance
Project developer Indufor is designing a seagrass restoration project in Mon Choisy, Mauritius with the hope that it will ameliorate the compounding threats of sea level rise, overfishing, coral reef destruction, and cyclones. The project is currently funded by a grant under the Adaptation Fund, but that runs dry at the end of 2017. Majella Clarke, who runs the climate change unit at Indufor, told Ecosystem Marketplace that they’re proposing a new tropical seagrass methodology under the Verified Carbon Standard in hopes of securing longer-term carbon finance. One methodology they’re considering would involve temporarily stopping boat traffic in the lagoon to give seagrass seedlings a chance; another would involve transferring the plants once they’re a bit bigger.
- Read more from Indufor
Eyeing the Great Bear
Leaders from the Quebec Cree First Nation of Waswinipi recently met with counterparts from British Columbian First Nations to get the details on how they achieved the recent agreement to put 85% of the Great Bear Rainforest under permanent protection. Previously, First Nations in B.C. forged a unique Atmospheric Benefit Sharing Agreement with the government, setting the terms for the flow of carbon offset revenue from Great Bear. Now, the Cree are curious if they can follow suit. “If the Province of B.C. and First Nations can sign the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, we see no reason why we can't achieve something similar…to protect the remaining 10 percent of unlogged area in our territory," said Chief Marcel Happyjack.
- Read more from Newswire Canada
Offsets on deck in Ontario
The Canadian province of Ontario released its draft cap-and-trade regulation in late February, but the document doesn’t define the use of offsets in the program – yet. Offset protocols will be proposed “later in 2016 if the climate change legislation passes” the draft reads. Ontario’s compliance program, which would cap electricity producers, natural gas distributers, and petroleum product suppliers beginning in 2017, is expected to link with California’s and Quebec’s if it gets up and running. International Emissions Trading Association president Dirk Forrister called the draft “a significant step forward for North America’s next carbon market.” The minimum price for allowances would start at CAD$12.82. Offset prices in compliance markets typically track slightly under the allowance minimums, Ecosystem Marketplace has found.
- Read the draft regulation
Bogged down in peat accounting
Indonesia can now account for the carbon in its forests with 95% accuracy – the result of “Tier 3” accounting recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which requires thousands of measurements of tree-circumferences on the ground. But emissions accounting for peat bogs is stuck in Tier 2, based on national or regional averages. The Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System (INCAS) is working to change that. “Data about peat and peatland management is maintained by numerous national and subnational agencies, research organizations and private companies,” said INCAS Technical Team Leader Haruni Krisnawati. “It is anticipated that greater collaboration between these organizations could yield substantial improvements.” INCAS also hopes to streamline the measurement, reporting, and verification requirements needed to develop REDD+ initiatives.
- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace
Not just a technicality
The New Zealand government recently put out a technical note on forestry in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), seeking feedback on the way allowances are distributed to forest owners. Currently, allowances are rewarded according to “real-time” accounting, meaning forest owners are given allowances as their forests grow and must surrender them when they harvest. The government is considering switching over to an averaging approach that would consider sequestration over the lifetime of the forest, which could be centuries. Ollie Belton of Carbon Forest Services welcomed the proposal. “Harvest liability and risk of increased carbon prices at time of harvest is a major disincentive to participate in the ETS for some forest owners, particularly smaller ones,” he told Carbon Pulse.
- Read more from Carbon Pulse
A tale of two countries
In 2008 and 2010, respectively, Norway offered Brazil and Indonesia $1 billion each if they could reduce deforestation. A multimedia Financial Times investigation looks into why Brazil’s money has been paid out while Indonesia’s largely hasn’t. The story takes readers from high-level meetings in Jakarta to the village of Merabu, Indonesia, where locals took three bulldozers hostage after finding they had been used to clear forests for a palm oil plantation. One important difference between Brazil and Indonesia is that Brazil has BNDES, a huge development bank that manages the Amazon Fund, but Indonesia has no equivalent – in part because government officials themselves feared corruption if the Norway money was treated as part of the national budget.
- Read the Financial Times investigation
Accountants for the new normal
Since the gavel banged down on the Paris Agreement, Michael Gillenwater and other “carbon counters” have been busy. Gillenwater runs the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Management Institute that offers online courses on GHG monitoring and reporting – covering everything from the emissions of large companies to those from land-use change. Now that developing countries will be responsible for carbon accounting alongside developed ones, there is a huge push for capacity-building. “You have to get away from the model of consultant-flies-in, runs-workshop, consultant-flies-out,” and train experts locally, said Jerry Seager of the Verified Carbon Standard.
- Read more from Yale 360
Slashing the stereotype
Slash-and-burn often has a negative connotation (the United Nations once called it a “backward agricultural practice”), but a multi-year study of the Hin Lad Nai and Karen villages in Thailand shows that slash-and-burn has actually led to carbon storage. Too often, small-scale slash-and-burn practices are put in the same category as large-scale conversion by agri-business, says agricultural economist Malcolm Cairns. But in the former, small farmers in Hin Lad Nai and Karen leave dried vegetation on the landscape where it fertilizes the soil – after a couple of growing seasons, they move elsewhere and let the forest regrow. “The REDD program is now trying to ‘protect’ the forests from the very thing that has made them what they are,” said Cairns.
- Read more from National Geographic
The good, bad, and ugly
A recent Greenpeace report digs into the progress of 14 major brands towards meeting their no deforestation commitments related to palm oil. They assessed companies based on three criteria: transparency; responsible sourcing, or the practical steps they’re taking; and industry reform, or the extent to which companies are pushing for larger transformation. Fererro and Nestlé came out as “strong” overall while Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo were deemed to be “failing.” Greenpeace looked in part at whether companies were relying on GreenPalm certificates or working with suppliers, and whether they were able to trace palm oil to the mill -- or, even better, to the plantation.
- Read the Greenpeace report