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From the Editors

In the month since our last newsletter, the world has experienced some extraordinary events. On November 4, the Paris Climate Agreement entered into force way ahead of schedule. On November 7, the United Nations annual climate conference kicked off in Marrakesh, Morocco with participants intending to establish a roadmap to implement Paris Agreement objectives. And on November 8, the United States elected Donald Trump as its new president.   

Outwardly, the Marrakesh talks continued as if the election hadn’t even taken place, with countries around the world vowing to keep the process moving forward, and countries like China offering to help fill any leadership or funding gaps that open up under a Trump presidency. As a result, private sector actors and carbon market practitioners expressed tentative optimism – in part because of growing sustainability efforts among individual US states, but also because of the president-elect’s purported love of making deals.

“If you follow some of the statements and speeches of Trump and his new administration as it will be, there is a sign that they’re saying they could make a better deal than what’s done previously,” said Peter Graham, a former climate negotiator for Canada. “So to me that’s a sign that maybe they’ll give a go at trying to stay in to make it work better, from their point of view, for the American people.”

And in terms of market activity, President and CEO at the International Emissions Trading Association Dirk Forrister notes that both California and New York developed cap-and-trade programs under Republican governors.

“In the US, usually, if Washington wanes, you can see the states pick up activities,” said Forrister. “That’s what brought us the California program to begin with; that’s what brought us the New England program; and interestingly, in both of those examples, the leaders in those regions found a way to bring about a bipartisan approach.”  

Forrister and other business and market leaders ultimately are taking a wait-and-see approach and urged other stakeholders not to get panicky.  The negotiations, meanwhile, carried on with plans to implement the newly-minted Paris Agreement, despite the looming uncertainties. Joining Germany, the US, Canada and Mexico released strategies to radically cut emissions by mid-century, which backs the new 2050 Pathways Platform that French Climate Ambassador Laurence Tubiana championed.

As for forest carbon finance, the negotiations had no direct agenda for Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), though other issues such as transparency and markets were part of the itinerary, and these impact REDD+ implementation.

"From our work on REDD+ finance through our REDDX project, we know that private sector investment and carbon markets are the sources most likely to fully fund performance-based payments," Forest Trends' Gustavo Silva-Chávez wrote, stressing the importance of discussions on markets.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions summarized key decisions at COP22, and noted that negotiators began consideration of two market-related provisions within the Paris Agreement. The first was on the requirement that parties using Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes to meet climate targets ensure no double counting of the transferred units. And the second explored the creation of a new mechanism contributing to both climate mitigation and sustainable development that could include emissions trading.

Silva-Chávez said further work is needed to operationalize these market-based mechanisms. Prior to the talks in Marrakesh, Forest Trends, along with NGO partners that included Conservation International and the Environmental Defense Fund, published recommendations to help move along the process.

Keep reading for more news on carbon finance!

 
   

COP22 Round-Up

Commodities and climate

Ecosystem Marketplace's latest State of Forest Carbon Finance report tracked nearly $1 billion flowing into forest conservation in 2015. However, that number pales when compared to the "big four" commodities that drive the lion's share of tropical deforestation. This makes corporate efforts to achieve deforestation-free supply chains an important part of worldwide climate targets. Indeed, private sector activity to reform its supply chains garnered much attention at this year's UN climate conference in Marrakesh. And in addition to agriculture and forests, finance was front of mind during COP22, and developers of a proposed "REDD Acceleration Fund" gained significant attention. Essentially, the fund is a financing mechanism that aims to provide public sector risk-sharing for existing REDD projects.

Read more on COP22 at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Trumped-up talk

What does the election of Donald Trump as the United States' next president mean for climate policy and specifically the Paris Agreement? Ecosystem Marketplace put that question to carbon market practitioners, investors and business leaders at this year's UN climate conference. Simply put, it's a new political environment, said former Canadian climate negotiator Peter Graham. "It could mean that all activity goes private," said Mike Korchinsky, a REDD+ project developer. "Instead of trying to implement large national programs pushed through central government, it gets pushed down into the private sector-into the marketplace." And the private sector, for its part, continues to ratchet up its efforts. Earlier this month, 365 US businesses and investors reaffirmed their support for climate action.

Keep reading.

Indigenous rights and REDD+

The indigenous groups living within the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in southeastern Peru reminded participants at COP22 that REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) isn't going ahead if the basic rights of indigenous peoples aren't observed. Eca-Amarakaeri is the administering organization for the three indigenous peoples living in the ACR. While it is in favor of REDD and involved in what's known as Indigenous REDD, the organization seeks to ensure indigenous rights alongside forest conservation that mitigates climate change.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Deforestation comes into the light

While nearly 200 companies have endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, the watchdog groups have had little way of knowing if businesses were actually keeping their promises. “We have almost no way of monitoring the effectiveness of these private sector pledges, if they are implemented successfully and whether they are resulting in a reduction of tropical deforestation,” said Charlotte Steck of Climate Focus. Until now. During the climate talks, several transparency initiatives were either launched or announced. The Center for International Forestry Research launched a satellite-based deforestation tracker while the Global Canopy Programme and Stockholm Environment Institute launched Trase (Transparency for Sustainable Economies). Trase is a platform tracking soybeans from specific municipalities in Brazil to end countries.

Ecosystem Marketplace has more.

Here's the Deal

Blowing smoke

Vestergarrd Frandsen's controversial Carbon for Water project, which distributed the LifeStraw water filters to western Kenyan households, is once again facing scrutiny. Recent research from Stanford University reveals inaccuracies in the company's self-reported carbon offset data leading the researchers to recommend that carbon projects need independent monitoring. The Gold Standard did certify the Carbon for Water project and has said it will review it again, "at the next verification, which has not yet been scheduled." Ultimately, the Stanford University researchers conclude carbon finance can aid efforts to improve water treatment and health. However, they say, no one can know for sure what's going on without third-party monitoring.

Read more at the Stanford News.

Coffee talk

Coffee company Portland Roasting Coffee has been carbon neutral since it began gathering data in 2007 with the help of a software system that tracks energy usage. The Orgeon-based company then offsets the emissions it can't avoid through its energy efficient efforts, which includes coffee delivery by bike. The company uses Specialty Coffee Association of America's START program to determine its energy usage, and it offsets carbon through a partnership with D.C.-based nonprofit Trees for the Future, an organization that plants trees in Sub-Sahara Africa. Through the partnership, Portland Roasting Coffee offset its energy use with 10,000 trees.

Green Biz has more.

King of the carbon markets

If all goes as planned, China will overtake the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme as the world's largest carbon trading system. It will also be a first-of-its-kind trading program at a national scale. China's market is expected to be in the range of 3-5 billion tons of carbon allowances per year with more than 7,000 firms - representing half of all of China's emissions - mandated to participate. These firms hail from the petrochemicals, building materials, steel, paper-making, ferrous metals, power generation and aviation sectors. The nation continues to gear up for next year's launch with seven pilot programs running at the regional level, which will determine the carbon prices in the national program.

Get the details at Climate Home.

Doubt over forest offsets

At least one environmental group is expressing concern that a new deal developed by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization, which aims to guide the industry toward carbon neutrality, may actually undercut global efforts to reduce emissions. There is worry over double counting but largely people are concerned over what types of offsets ICAO's program will accept. According to Nils Hermann Ranum of Rainforest Foundation Norway, forests are not permanent carbon vaults and therefore are one category that airlines shouldn't use to offset their emissions. If tree deaths increase due to rising global temperatures, forests will release their carbon stocks back into the atmosphere running the risk of double emissions, Ranum said.

Read more at Pacific Standard Magazine.

Project Development

Healthy cooking for people and planet

A clean cooking project in Ghana, designed to improve the economic and health situations of thousands of households while also saving forests and aiding efforts to curb climate change, recently announced the delivery of more than 112,000 Certified Emissions Reductions to the Swedish Energy Agency. CookClean Ghana implemented the project locally, which consisted of manufacturing and then partnering with retailers to sell the "CookMate," a stove 50% more efficient than traditional stoves. BioCarbon and ClimateCare invested in the project, which was registered under the Clean Development Mechanism in 2012. Tom Morton, Director of ClimateCare Africa said the project is on track to deliver at least 140,000 CERs from emissions reductions that were made in the past year.

Read the press release at ClimateCare.

Planting seeds in carbon investment

Last month, The Climate Trust's carbon investment fund received a $5.5 million Program-Related Investment from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to support US-based carbon offset projects. Climate Trust Capital, the administering firm that's independent to The Climate Trust, uses a patient finance model, which relies on a gradual increase in carbon prices. It meets an urgent need in the market for upfront conservation finance, explained Peter Weisberg of Climate Trust Capital. The firm intends to use its new investment to help develop four anaerobic digesters, three forestry projects and one grassland program. This will collectively reduce 978,157 mtCO2e over their ten-year life, and ensure sustainable management of 20,000 acres of land, The Climate Trust said.

Read the press release on Ecosystem Marketplace.

Carbon Finance

Pitching in on climate finance

The Gold Standard is partnering with Science Based Targets to define a second "Finance Target," wherein companies finance additional emissions reductions beyond its value chain. It's another opportunity for businesses to scale up their support for sustainable development and the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Gold Standard explained. The initiative is in a consultation phase, collecting input via a survey, and the organization is planning a program launch in 2017. Essentially, it would position the voluntary carbon markets as a vehicle for climate finance allowing corporates to contribute to low-carbon development by purchasing Gold Standard carbon credits.

Get details at the Gold Standard.

New Research

Milking cows and measuring carbon

The Food and Agriculture Organization unveiled a new methodology that measures and verifies emissions reductions in the smallholder dairy sector allowing producers to access new streams of climate finance by improving land-use practices and implementing technologies that reduce emissions. As the methodology received Gold Standard certification, farmers can generate internationally-accepted carbon credits through their reductions. “This methodology gives both the dairy sector and private sector assurance that they can effectively develop projects and reduce emissions from the dairy sector,” said Brendan Smith of the Gold Standard. Kenya's Agriculture Ministry contributed to the methodology's development and will be the first nation to pilot it.

Read the whole story at Deutsche Welle.

Beyond carbon neutral

Since 2012 when Microsoft implemented its internal carbon fee, the tech giant has reduced its emissions by 9 million mtCO2e and impacted over 7 million people through carbon offset community project investments. This year, the company designed and helped launch the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's Climate Neutral Now initiative at the climate talks in Marrakesh, which is an online cloud platform designed to make it easy for people to measure, reduce and offset their emissions. Microsoft also recently published a white paper announcing its intention to go "beyond carbon neutral." The paper highlights community projects, renewable energy and reporting on environmental impacts as focus areas to achieve its new goal.  

Microsoft's Green Blog has more

Jobs

Director, Partnerships & Business Development, Gold Standard

Based in Switzerland, the Director serves as a management team member participating in strategic decision- making affecting the Gold Standard Foundation. The Director supports the CEO on fundraising and leads the development and management of strategic partnerships aiming to expand and diversify GSF's donor base. Successful candidates will have 4-6 years of professional experience in a nonprofit organization as well as demonstrated success in a development function. S/he will also possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, both written and oral, and the ability to influence and engage a wide range of donors.

Interested? Get the details here.

Project Manager - Climate Neutral, First Climate

Based in Bad Vilbel, Germany, First Climate is looking for a Project Manager for its carbon reduction and offset projects. The Manager's primary responsibilities include sourcing carbon offset projects, engaging with project owners and developers and preparing client proposals. S/he will also be responsible for assessing projects and quantifying them for social and environmental benefits. Ideal candidates will have at least two years of experience analyzing and summarizing technical information, and are comfortable in the international realm. Also, fluency in spoken and written English is required.

Get the details here.

Program Officer, Verified Carbon Standard

Based in Washington D.C., the Program Officer will support two new initiatives, the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) and Landscape Standard (LS), as well as perform various other tasks and represent VCS at conferences as needed. Primary responsibilities include coordinating the technical working group that develops finance guidance, and provide research support on issues related to financing policies and actions. The Program Officer will also manage sub-grant and contract agreements with global partners and donors. VCS is looking for people fluent in English with a proficiency in Spanish, French or Portuguese and at least a bachelor's degree that relates to forestry, agriculture, natural resources or environmental economics. 

Interested? Find out more.

China Representative, IETA

Based in Beijing, the China Representative will represent the organization in China, leading the International Emissions Trading Association's overall work in the country. The position involves managing and expanding existing IETA relationships with Chinese government authorities and stakeholders while also working to grow IETA membership with leading Chinese companies. The representative will also analyze and asses China Emissions Trading System policy developments. Successful candidates must be fluent in both Mandarin and English and have a strong personal record in carbon markets and pricing.

Interested? Learn more here.

Sales Consultant, Nexus

Nexus is looking for candidates to fill a remote European-based Sales Consultant vacancy that is part or full-time. The Sales Consultant will play a key role in developing and managing partnership and commercial relationships. Main responsibilities include creating and expanding a portfolio of private organization contacts, based mainly in Europe, which will buy offsets. This position is involved in sourcing, negotiating and closing deals on carbon offset sales, and ensuring high client satisfaction rates. Successful candidates will be passionate about climate-friendly development and possess 6 years of professional experience in business development and sales. 

Learn more.

   
   

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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