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From the Editors

It’s just words on a page so far, but behind them are some hefty promises. Last week’s “Joint Statement from the United States and Norway on Deeper Collaboration on Forests and Climate Change” was chock-full of the buzz words that advocates of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD+) want to hear. Signed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen at the Norwegian government's Oslo REDD Exchange, the statement sets the stage for more robust cooperation between the two countries to support efforts to stop the felling of tropical forests, which contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Reducing deforestation and doing more to preserve our forests would enable us to achieve a full third of global mitigation goals by 2030,” said Kerry. “Trees, as you all know, are nature’s own carbon capture and storage mechanism. And this is to say nothing of the extensive benefits of forest protection related to biodiversity, air quality, water quality, homeland for indigenous people, and more.”

The US-Norway statement calls out “payments for verified emissions reductions” as a key tool for achieving these goals, but so far Norway has been the only country of the two to wield it. Through the REDD Early Movers (REM) program and through bilateral agreements, the Norwegian government has paid out at least $930 million for verified emissions reductions since 2011, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Forest Carbon Finance 2015 report. Much of that finance flowed to Brazil’s Amazon Fund as the country reduced its deforestation rate by 80% over a decade.

At the Paris climate talks, Norway – alongside the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom – put a total of $5 billion in potential results-based payments “on the table” to be paid out if tropical forest countries including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Liberia, and others successfully reduce deforestation. The United States has paid tropical forest countries just a fraction of that – about $153 million, as of the end of 2015 – and so far all of that finance has gone towards REDD+ readiness, not verified emissions reductions. However, companies headquartered in the US have been engaging in results-based payments for forest protection to the tune of about $177 million through their participation in carbon markets.

The Norway-US statement encourages private sector involvement in REDD+ through a couple of channels. One is the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) proposed market-based mechanism to achieve carbon-neutral growth, which the US and Norway point out could create “demand for large-scale forest emissions reductions, provided activities meet ICAO’s emissions unit program criteria and reflect relevant developments in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” If ICAO’s tentative carbon market does make space for REDD+ offsets, the airlines that would be regulated could potentially drive tens of billions of dollars into forest conservation projects over the next 20 years, Michael Wolosin of Forest Climate Analytics told Mongabay.

The joint statement also cites private sector commitments to reduce tropical deforestation in supply chains, and Forest Trends’ Supply-Change initiative has tracked 579 of these corporate promises to date. A couple of these private sector pledges – Unilever’s and Marks & Spencer’s – allude to the kind of scaled-up linkages with state-level forest and climate programs that the US-Norway agreement advocates.

“We are especially pleased to see these leading governments [Norway and the US] express eagerness to help businesses remove deforestation from their supply chains, as the ‘big four’ agricultural commodities of palm oil, timber and pulp, soy, and cattle are responsible for the largest share of tropical deforestation each year,” said Michael Jenkins, the Founding President and CEO of Forest Trends.

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

 
   

HERE’S THE DEAL

A tree grows in Astoria

The Climate Trust (TCT) recently cut the first check towards a total of 245,000 offsets from the city of Astoria, Oregon. TCT will retire the offsets on behalf of Portland General Electric’s Carty facility, a new natural-gas-fired power plant currently under construction. The deal marks the first forest carbon project used to meet emissions reductions requirements under the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard, which mandates that new fossil-fuel power plants in Oregon reduce or offset their emissions.  Astoria has committed to reduce the volume of harvested timber from its Bear Creek Watershed for the next 40 years, and its offsets are verified under the American Carbon Registry.

- Read more from The Climate Trust

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Cocoa’s day in the sun

Ghanaians are largely responsible for fulfilling the world’s sweet tooth: Cocoa accounts for almost 10% of Ghana’s economy and nearly a third of its exports. But, despite the fact that many varieties of cocoa grow best in the shade, Ghanaian farmers often clear forests to grow their crop in full sun. The Ghanaian government is hoping to change that through a jurisdictional REDD+ program that educates farmers on best practices. “Sometimes, they have been badly misinformed – such as with this myth of the ‘Sun Cocoa,’” said Yaw Kwakye, Head of the National REDD+ Secretariat. Ghana is working on developing an Emission Reduction Program Document with the World Bank’s Carbon Fund for what they hope will be the first commodity-based REDD program in Africa.

- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace

Trees go urban

Urban Offsets, a North Carolina start-up, is working with Duke University and the nearby city of Wilson to test an urban forestry model it hopes to replicate through 10-25 more pilot projects. The organization will pay the city to maintain and monitor trees, while Duke University has agreed to buy the associated carbon offsets. Offsets will be verified under Duke University’s internal methodology, which Urban Offsets CEO Shawn Gagné chose because it was less expensive than other standards. (The California Urban Forestry Protocol hasn’t had any takers, with potential project participants lamenting high costs.) Gagné hopes his methodology, combined with a trading platform still in the works, will facilitate future carbon agreements between universities and cities.

- Read more from Duke Today 

POLICY WATCH

Not reinventing the wheel

After two years of delays, it looks like South Africa’s carbon tax is on track to operationalize in January 2017 – and offsets will have a role to play. The government released its draft regulations on carbon offsets this Monday, drawing heavily from proposals in its 2014 Carbon Offsets Paper. Projects located in South Africa and developed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Verified Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard will all be eligible, with the door left open for additional standards after approval by the Minister of Energy. The draft says that offsets may be used for up to either 5% or 10% of a company’s total emissions reduction obligation, depending on the sector.

- Read the explanatory note from the South African government

Seeking stability

European Union ministers recently gathered in Luxembourg for an environment council meeting, releasing a statement that calls on member states to ratify the Paris Agreement “as soon as possible” and to debate how to address the oversupply on the EU Emissions Trading System. At the meeting, the Netherlands proposed a reform that would involve reducing the emissions cap 2.2% annually starting in 2021, complementing the Market Stability Reserve set to start operating in 2019. “After Paris there’s a momentum to strengthen the ETS,” said Dutch Minister Sharon Dijksma. The Luxembourg talks occurred under the shadow of the UK’s upcoming vote to potentially leave the EU, with carbon market participants speculating about what could happen to the EU ETS if that happens.

- Read more from businessGreen and Bloomberg

CARBON FINANCE

Norway: “Keep watching.”

After spending 68 million Norwegian kroner (about US$8.2 million) to help launch the Global Forest Watch platform between 2013 and 2015, the Norwegian government recently renewed its commitment  to the tune of 115 million kroner (US$13.8 million) over three years. Global Forest Watch, which provides an almost real-time view of deforestation globally using remote sensing and crowd-sourced data, now has more than half a million users – among them companies such as Unilever, Mondolez, Cargill, and Mars, which use it to monitor deforestation in their supply chains. “Now the bad guys have nowhere to hide, and the good guys can be recognized and rewarded for their stewardship,” said Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI) which runs the platform.

- Read more from Mongabay

HUMAN DIMENSION

There’s an app for that

Indigenous people have official rights to at least 513 million hectares of forest that store 37.7 billion tonnes of carbon, a 2014 report by WRI found. They’ve historically been really good at protecting that resource, but nowadays the effects of climate change are reaching even the remotest rainforests. The SOMAI Alerta Indígena, a set of projections that combines 17 climate models with historical data, was developed to get climate data into Amazonian peoples’ hands. The system, developed by IPAM, recently won 1.5 million Brazilian Real (about US$430,000) in Google’s Impact Challenge 2016. IPAM will use the money to develop a mobile app that’s accessible in areas without reliable internet and that includes more frequent climate updates.

- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace

Jobs

Project Manager – atmosfair

Based in Berlin, Germany the Project Manager will supervise independently operating CDM and Gold Standard projects to ensure that offset verification and budget objectives are achieved. The position also involves developing new carbon offset projects with proximity to atmosfair’s customers in the travel and other industries. The position requires a degree in economics, science, or engineering and at least two years of practical experience in project management. Fluency in German and English is required; additional languages are an asset. Must be willing to travel to developing countries.

Read more about the position here

Senior Climate Finance Specialist – World Bank Group

Based in Washington, D.C., the Senior Climate Finance Specialist will work with the Climate and Carbon Finance Unit that manages 12 carbon funds and facilities with a total commitment of over $2.5 billion. The primary responsibility of the position is to lead and develop climate mitigation programs and provide high-level operational support to existing initiatives such as the Carbon Partnership Facility and the Carbon Initiative for Development. The successful candidate must have at least eight years of combined experience in the World Bank or another international institution and experience in program and portfolio risk assessment. Fluency in English is required; French and Spanish language skills are desired.

Read more about the position here

Policy Specialist, Climate Policy and Finance – UNICEF

Based in New York, New York, the Policy Specialist will provide technical assistance to country and regional offices and develop relevant guidelines and tools for addressing climate issues in UNICEF’s work. The position involves coordinating UNICEF’s accreditation to the Green Climate Fund and overseeing the organization’s Social and Environmental Standards. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree in a relevant field and a minimum of eight years of associated work experience, as well as specific expertise in climate finance.

Read more about the position here

Fall Intern – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Based in New York, New York, the intern will work with RGGI from September through November 2016. Tasks include monitoring RGGI’s presence in the media and summarizing trends; reviewing databases and economic modeling; assisting with the preparation of presentations; updating the website; and researching events to inform audiences about RGGI. The successful candidate will have strong research and written communication skills; coursework experience in media relations, economics, and environmental policy; and a positive attitude, with a motivation to take on new projects. The intern must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student.

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. 

 

 
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