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From the Editors

We're closing out the year with a piece of good news. Even if US President-Elect Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, more than two dozen US states have programs in place to continue reducing emissions, and many governors have pledged to counter climate change in line with the Paris Agreement. Six states have even begun disclosing greenhouse gas emissions data to the Compact of States and Regions, an initiative driven by CDP and The Climate Group that intends to provide a clearer picture of state and regional climate efforts.

Of the six states disclosing - Connecticut, California, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Vermont - Connecticut has already achieved its 2020 target, while New York is 8% below its baseline 1990 emissions. California and New York are also the headquarters of the Western Climate Initiative and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, respectively – two cap-and-trade programs spread across several US states and Canadian provinces.

This activity by states reaffirms what many participants in this year's climate talks in Marrakesh said, which was subnational governments would fill any leadership gap left by the federal government.

Uncertainty continues to loom over Washington though some from the climate and conservation space already feel Trump's picks are cause for serious concern. He nominated as head of the Environmental Protection Agency Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate-science denier with close ties to the fossil fuel industry and a history of sparring with government over environmental regulations.

“A person whose public career has been spent attacking environmental law is now in charge of the agency enforcing such laws," said Gustavo Silva-Chávez, who heads the Forest Trends REDDX program

On December 12, the President-Elect chose the chief of oil giant Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. Tillerson has expressed interest in a carbon tax and Exxon issued a statement in support of the Paris Agreement, so his record on climate action is mixed. However, Peter Graham, a former climate negotiator for Canada, remains unconvinced.

“The Koch brothers and oil lobby could not have designed a cabinet more favorable to their business interests," he said, noting the critical differences between the world of corporate deals where Tillerson hails and international diplomacy.

More recently, Trump announced his choice to head up the Department of Interior: Ryan Zinke, Montana's only congressman and a former Navy SEAL commander. Zinke is very much a mixed bag though, in large part, environmental groups saw more reason to worry than relax. 

"My colleagues and I are concerned about several aspects of Rep. Zinke's record, particularly his support for aggressive oil, gas and coal extraction on federal lands," said Fred Krupp, the President of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Some focused on the economic benefits of environmental markets such as carbon trading to help promote sustainable land-use on federal lands. Ecosystem markets are indeed growing in the US and were recently showcased in new mapping research from Ecosystem Marketplace and partners EPA and the Department of Agriculture's Office of Environmental Markets. The Atlas of Ecosystem Markets identifies key market trends and patterns across the country and can serve as a decision-making tool for policymakers and other actors. 

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

 
   

HERE'S THE DEAL

Making the carbon neutral grade

Middlebury College in Vermont will ring in the New Year completely carbon neutral. The liberal arts school did this in large part with carbon offsets sequestering carbon on 2,100 acres of college-owned forestland in Vermont's Bread Loaf Wilderness. The forestland has stored over 12,905 metric tons of carbon exceeding the amount needed for the school to reach neutrality, so it will sell the remainder. The school has plans to issues these credits through the American Carbon Registry but the process requires another independent verifier first. Middlebury College first considered carbon neutrality in the late 1990s and school leaders credit the student body as the driving force behind the movement's evolution.

Keep reading at the Middlebury Campus.

Paris rules

While the Paris Agreement doesn't mention the Clean Development Mechanism by name, it does note a new mechanism should draw on the experience gained from existing mechanisms. The future of the CDM isn't completely clear, though some experts say countries could transfer CDM rules and procedures to the new mechanism developed under the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme is purchasing Certified Emissions Reductions, which the CDM issues, to reach carbon neutrality. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority also offset emissions during Earth Hour this year by purchasing CERs.

Learn more at UNDP.

Google Green

Google already has its 2017 New Year's resolution: to reach 100 percent renewable energy for its global operations by the end of next year. Falling prices on renewable power sources are enabling Google to invest more money globally, the company says. The tech giant's ramp-up of renewable energy will affect its purchase of carbon offsets, which, according to its Environmental Report, were intended to be an interim solution. As Google improves its energy efficiency and powers with renewables, the need for offsets will decrease. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, and at that time relied heavily on high-quality offsets in such projects as animal waste management systems and landfill gas projects.

Find out more at Vocativ.

POLICY WATCH

The master plan

Earlier this month, Canada unveiled a master plan to counter climate change with carbon pricing at the center of it. With the exception of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, all of Canada's provinces agreed to participate in a national carbon pricing program. Québec is already connected to California's cap-and-trade system, and Ontario plans to join as well. Once that linkage is complete, most of Canada's economy and over 60 percent of its population will be covered by some sort of emissions trading program. Meanwhile, carbon pricing developments continue around the globe as Mexico plans to establish one in 2018. China is set to launch the world's largest carbon market next year and there's even talk of linking it with the EU system.

Read more at PRI.

Keeping secrets

There's bound to be problems when attempting to launch the world's biggest emissions trading program and, indeed, analysts are expressing concerns over China's efforts to launch its national program sometime in 2017. For one, a market requires full and accurate data and China's industrial sectors tend to be secretive. Plans are moving forward, however. China's Sichuan province intends to be a trading hub once the national program is underway. It launched its voluntary carbon trading program this month with 363,000 credits traded during opening day. Meanwhile, China has some reservations on the global deal to reduce emissions from the aviation sector. The issues seem to center on using domestic carbon offsets to comply with the UN market.

Read more about China's reservations on the aviation deal and Sichuan's new market (subscription required).

Climate Home has more on China's looming carbon market launch.

CARBON FINANCE

Money for green projects

The Green Climate Fund board approved multi-million dollar grants for projects that help vulnerable regions mitigate and adapt to climate change during its 15th Board Meeting, which took place this month in Samoa. The board funneled funds to Samoa for flood management and climate resilience while also partnering with the Asian Development Bank to establish a renewable energy program, which will focus on the Cook Islands. Co-chairs of the board hailed the meeting a success while NGOs said the board kicked important decisions down the road.

Learn more at Matangi Tonga.

Boosting carbon yields Down Under

In Australia, the Queensland state government is ramping up its carbon farming efforts with a new fund to help indigenous communities earn carbon credits with land-use projects. The $6.2 million (AUD 8.4 million) Queensland Carbon Plus Fund will aid indigenous economic development, employment and environmental management, said state Environment Minister Steven Miles. "The market for offsets will greatly increase in coming decades, and by investing early we can make sure Queensland has a mature market ready for investment," he said. Officials, who unveiled the fund on December 16, didn't release many details though they did mention credits generated will initially be used to offset emissions from the state government car fleet.

Read the media statement from the Queensland government.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Farmers guide to carbon accounting

In 2015, the St. Louis-based agribusiness group Monsanto made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021 and then established the Carbon-Neutral Collaborative to figure out just how to reach net zero emissions. The Collaborative, which met for the first time in late November, is comprised of experts from universities and professional organizations and plan to develop a transparent, scalable and verifiable carbon accounting framework, which will measure and report carbon reductions. The carbon reductions will be based on the adoption of specific agricultural practices and systems.

Read more about Monsanto.

DIY forest monitoring

Countries interested in conducting their own forest monitoring efforts to track land-use change and deforestation now have another option as the Food and Agriculture Organization developed the Collect Earth software in partnership with Google Earth and Earth Engine. Basically anyone with an internet connection can access Collect Earth as it's free and open-source giving developing countries more opportunity to meet the monitoring, reporting and verifying measures required to participate in REDD+. Ruth Turia of Papua New Guinea, participating in a workshop earlier this month, said Collect Earth allowed foresters in her country to gather their own data for national forest monitoring. "This time we want to do that monitoring work ourselves," she said.

Keep reading at FAO.

JOBS

Policy Analyst (carbon markets and carbon pricing), NewClimate Institute

Based in Cologne or Berlin, the Policy Analyst's work will focus on analysis, evaluation and design of domestic and international market mechanisms. Possible projects include the evaluation and development of both market and non-market mechanisms as instruments within a broader climate policy landscape to reduce emissions. Successful candidates will have at least five years of experience in carbon markets and climate change mitigation. A good understanding of the international climate policy landscape is a must as is knowledge of domestic and international carbon pricing instruments. 

Interested? Learn more.

Head of Voluntary Client Portfolios, ClimateCare

Based in Oxford (or London), the Portfolio Manager will work on ClimateCare's voluntary carbon investment activity. The Manager is responsible for generating and implementing a wholesale strategy and building and maintaining good relationships with wholesale market buyers in order to meet business targets. S/he is also expected to identify and pursue new wholesale opportunities and then structure deals appropriately. Successful candidates will have a commercial or business background and a track record of prioritizing a high workload. Familiarity with voluntary carbon markets is also a must.

Find out more.

Sales Manager, Climate Neutral & Green Economy, First Climate

Based in Bad Vilbel, Germany, the Sales Manager will connect with companies interested in voluntary carbon offsetting and green energy purchase while providing feedback and information on industry developments. S/he will also support First Climate's growth in international green energy business. Successful candidates should have at least two years sales experience, a relevant degree and familiarity engaging with national and international companies. Plus, fluent spoken and written German and English is a must.

Get the details.

Research Associate, Climate/Environmental Economics & Policy, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Based in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Research Associate will work within the Climate and Environmental Policy team to inform policymakers on climate smart agriculture and develop services aiding the transition toward less carbon intensive land-use practices. S/he will support socio-economics and policy research and assist senior staff in planning and performing research activities, data management and analysis. A graduate degree in economics or political science is required as is two years of relevant work experience. Successful candidates will also possess an understanding and interest in international climate policy and writing, communication and presentation skills.

Get details.

Research Fellow, Climate Change Policy, Stockholm Environment Institute

Based in England, the Research Fellow or Associate will work on topics related to implementing the Paris Agreement, climate finance and carbon pricing as well as EU climate and energy policy. Primary responsibilities include data gathering via internet and interviews and drafting language for reports, articles, policy briefs and blog posts. Successful candidates will have an advanced degree in law, public policy or political science or at least three years of equivalent experience. Excellent writing skills are important as is a strong understanding of the international regime governing climate change.

Find out 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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