China’s Big Plans For Forests And Climate Change

1 July 2015 | China will increase its forest stock by 4.5 billion cubic meters by 2030 if the country meets its proposed climate plan, released this week to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The plan, known in climate negotiator speak as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or “INDC”, lays out the country’s intention to peak its greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2030 while making “best efforts to peak early.”

China’s commitment sets a year – 2030 – by which the country’s annual emissions must end their upward creep, but it doesn’t specify the altitude of this emissions summit – though multiple projections suggest it will likely be around 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). In a “business as usual” scenario, researchers predict that China’s emissions would peak sometime between 2030 and 2040, between 12 billion and 14 billion tonnes, according to the World Resources Institute.

The emissions reductions goal was no surprise, since China’s INDC mirrored its half of the historic agreement it struck with the United States in November. But the target of lowering carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% under 2005 levels was new, as was the specific target on forests.

China’s INDC states that the country aims to “vigorously enhance afforestation, promoting voluntary tree planting by all citizens” while reducing “deforestation-related” emissions.

Forest and land use experts were tentatively excited about the inclusion of land-use in China’s INDC, though they’re still trying to parse out what exactly the tree-planting goal means.

“I was happy to see the INDC mention reducing the impacts of natural disturbances and improving their measurement methodologies over time,” said Pipa Elias, Senior Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy.

Under the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, China set a goal of lowering carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40% to 45% from 2005 levels, in part by bumping up the country’s forested area by 40 million hectares and increasing the forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters. According to its climate plan, as of 2014 China was well on its way to meeting this land-use goal, with 21.6 million hectares reforested.

However, the INDC does not specify the hectare equivalence of the new 4.5-billion-cubic-meters target, and presumably some of this increase would occur in a “business as usual” scenario as the forests that have already been planted grow. Scientists are still doing the math on additionality, but the sense so far is that the commitment does indeed go beyond the Copenhagen Accord – the question is by how much.

China’s land-use sector is already a net carbon sink domestically, but its consumers’ demand for agricultural commodities is putting pressure on tropical forests in Brazil, Indonesia, Myanmar, and many other countries. China purchases 60% of the soy and 34% of the leather produced by tropical forest countries, according to the Forest 500, a project that ranks governments and companies on ‘forest-risk’ commodities. These Chinese imports are often produced at the expense of forests elsewhere.

Doug Boucher, Director of the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says the presence of land-sector actions in China’s INDC is a good thing, but the country could and should also pay more attention to its domestic agricultural sector.

“Despite China’s progress with land sector emissions, its agricultural emissions are the largest in the world,” he said in a statement. “There is ample scope for China to curb agricultural emissions, particularly nitrous oxide from excessive fertilizer use and methane from rice production.”

China’s INDC does aim for “zero growth” in fertilizer and pesticide use by 2020.

“It is critical for countries like China to increase the efficiency of their agricultural systems to reduce the climate impact of growing food, but do so in a way that generates positive environmental and social outcomes,” said Elias.

China currently has seven jurisdictional carbon markets and plans to launch a national cap-and-trade program in 2016 that would be second in size only to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. Offsets from non-regulated sectors, known as Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions, are used to cover 5-10% of compliance entities’ emissions obligations in the pilot programs – a mechanism that will likely be carried over to the national program. Four new CCER methodologies target emissions from forestry and land use.

Merging Of Indonesia’s Forestry And Environment Ministries Continues With Inauguration Event

This article was originally posted on Mongabay.

10 June 2015 | “I think the transition period of the last six months has been quite heavy,” the minister, Siti Nurbaya, said at the inauguration event in Jakarta on Friday. “We persevered through a difficult time,” she added.

Notable appointments include Climate Change Oversight Director-General Nur Masripatin, Environmental and Forestry Spatial Planning Director-General San Afri Awang and Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships Director-General Hadi Daryanto, all of whom have held various Forestry Ministry positions before Jokowi combined it with the Environment Ministry upon taking office last year.

The Climate Change Oversight Directorate-General will take the reins of Indonesia’s climate change agenda in place of the now-defunct REDD+ Task Force (BP REDD+) and National Council on Climate Change (DNPI).

Earlier this year, Jokowi dissolved BP REDD+ to streamline the government, though some activists and officials have criticized the move, fearing Indonesia’s conservation agenda will languish under the weight of the ministry’s bureaucracy.

BP REDD+ was the world’s first cabinet-level institution dedicated to implementing REDD+, which refers to the global Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism.

Nur’s appointment “effectively confirms that the entire climate change agenda will be managed by the Directorate-General of Climate Change Oversight,” Siti said at the inauguration.

The new department will handle climate change adaptation and mitigation; measuring, reporting and verification of progress; and forest fire control, according to the minister.

To preserve the institutional independence and objectivity of Indonesia’s cooperation with Norway, under which BP REDD+ was established in 2013, the ministry will establish a Steering Committee on Climate Change, led by Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, an environment minister during Suharto’s New Order regime. The committee will also include NGO representatives, other senior bureaucrats and foreign technical experts.

As head of the Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships Directorate-General, Daryanto is in charge of realizing Jokowi’s promise to allocate 12.5 hectares to “social forestry” or “community-based forestry” schemes, which put land management in indigenous and local communities’ hands through community logging, village forest and other arrangements.

The new director-generals line up at their inauguration last week. Photo: Sapariah Saturi

Greenpeace forest campaigner Bustar Mitar noted that most of the appointees were old faces from the Forestry Ministry, and he urged them not to operate in the “old style.” In 2012, Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named the Forestry Ministry one of the country’s most corrupt institutions.

Agrarian studies expert Noer Fauzi Rachman also expressed reservations about holdovers from the previous administration, including Awang and Daryanto.

“This is not a sign of change,” Noer said.

“If the attitude is still toward centralized and elitist decisionmaking that is not open to the people’s participation, these changes won’t mean anything,” he added.

The director-generals are all echelon I officials. The ministry now has to name echelon II, III, and IV officials. There will be 18 echelon I as well as 86 echelon II, 316 echelon III and 769 echelon IV officials.

The newly inaugurated officials:

1. Bambang Hendroyono, ministry secretary-general
2. San Afri Awang, environmental and forestry spatial planning director-general
3. Tachrir Fathoni, ecosystem and natural resources conservation director-general
4. Hilman Nugroho, watershed and protected forests director-general
5. Ida Bagus Putera, sustainable production forest management director-general
6. M.R. Karliansyah, pollution and environmental damage control director-general
7. Tuti Hendrawati, toxic waste materials management director-general
8. Nur Masripatin, environmental and forestry spatial planning director-general
9. Hadi Daryanto, social forestry and environmental partnerships director-general
10. Rasio Ridho Sani, environmental and forestry law enforcement director-general
11. Iman Hendargo Abu Ismoyo, ministry inspector-general
12. Bambang Soepijanto, head of the ministry’s Natural Resources Development Agency
13. Henry Bastaman, head of the ministry’s Research, Development and Innovation Agency

 

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Standoff Continues In South Korea’s New Carbon Markets

With no trading of allowances since mid-January, businesses regulated by South Korea’s cap-and-trade program have made their dislike of the carbon markets well known. That stand-off will likely end next year, as the first compliance deadline approaches, but analysts warn that a scarce supply of offsets may increase the costs for companies then.

May 28 2015 | The last-minute passage of South Korea’s cap-and-trade bill made headlines back in 2012, when it set the stage for the world’s second largest emissions trading system (ETS).

A year later, as details of the ETS emerged, the program once again made the news – this time for the dubious honor of the world’s most (potentially) expensive carbon market. Under the country’s penalty scheme, non-compliant companies can be fined at three times the average price of allowances for that compliance year, with a cap at KRW 100,000 (USD $90) per tonne.

Since the initial allocation of allowances and launch of the market, there has been growing talk of an allowance shortage. Sungwoo Kim, an official advisor to the government through consulting firm KPMG, gave greater insight during a panel at the Climate Action Reserve’s Navigating the Amiercan Carbon World conference in Los Angeles last month. He estimated there will be a 57 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) shortage during the first phase of the ETS (2015-2017) – which could increase the costs for covered entities to meet their requirements.

Despite the expensive consequences, companies have shown little interest in trading allowances since the program’s launch at the beginning of January. Only four allowance trades have occurred (as of May 29) at a volume of 1,380 tonnes. With the last trade registered in mid-January, companies have given no indication that will change soon.

The carbon stakes are high

While the penalty is high for non-compliance, most companies are placing an even bigger bet: that the government will distribute additional allowances.

Several industry associations (including the Korea Nonferrous Metals Association, Korea Petrochemical Industry Association, Korea Cement Association, and Korea Waste Association) and companies have sued the government over the allocation of permits in an effort to increase the total amount of allocations. Emitters allege the government has under-allocated by up to 20%, but so far government officials have remained unmoved.

The largest opponent has been perhaps the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), an economic organization in Korea for members earning annual sales of 50 billion won or more. FKI recently released its annual economic outlook survey, which found that – behind a drop in domestic demand – the cap-and-trade program remains the next largest concern for businesses.

In reality, though, the program mainly affects the country’s largest corporations, with 10 companies responsible for an estimated 76% of emissions covered under the ETS.

These organizations have the most to lose from penalties. As a result, many companies (or rather the companies’ membership organizations) have taken the fight to the courts over allowance volumes. The grievance specifically revolves around the way allocations were determined because the Korean government averaged entities’ emissions from 2011 to 2013. For organizations that saw a decrease in emissions during those three years, it is likely that they will remain beneath their allocation while the opposite is true for companies with a higher emissions trend.

A continuous battle

This isn’t the first time that South Korea’s industry has pushed back against the carbon market. Though the bill passed with near unanimous support across Korea’s political parties, there was significant resistance from the Ministry of Industry and industry associations.

“The first fight is between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Industry,” said Kim, who explained that the fight occurred over several years. “The Ministry of Industry keeps communicating with the industry people, with the companies, that this system will not go on. So the companies are receiving the wrong signal. They think that they don’t have to prepare for this emissions trading scheme… But the Ministry of Environment won that fight and they started the ETS.”

The government has already compromised on several aspects of the ETS prior to this, including delaying the start of trading from 2013 to 2015. However, the government has held firm against other demands, including another delayed implementation through 2020.

An April article by the news agency Nikkei Asian Review quoted Lee Hyung-sup, senior deputy director of the Environment Ministry’s climate change mitigation division, on the matter: “We believe the amount of permits was appropriately made,” he said. “It is in the nature of the emissions market that the government takes a mandatory top-down approach, as it sets the national target and makes the allocations accordingly.”

Offsetting – a silver lining or insubstantial air?

Barring government action, compliance entities could fill the allocation gap by offsetting up to 10% of their emissions reductions.

While the response to offsets has been better than that of allowances (with five transactions as of May 29, totaling 279,658 tonnes), analysts at research firm Point Carbon warn that offsets, too, are in short supply as the compliance market only allows for the use of domestic offsets. The Ministry of Environment began issuing Korean domestic offset units (KOCs) from pre-existing Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) offsets in April, meaning questions remain about the size and scope of offsets to be issued.

So far, the ministry has converted around 1.9 million CERs. A total of 91 domestic Clean Development Mechanism projects might be converted to provide 42 MtCO2e, according to Kim. But analysts at Point Carbon estimate only 20 million offsets could make the cut (excluding HFC 23 and N20 adipic acid projects, which are offset types that other governments have ruled problematic and excluded from use).

This potential shortage could change in Phase III of the ETS (2021-2025), when up to 50% of total offsets allowed may be international in origin.

In the meantime, Kim predicts that the use of offsets will become more widespread next year after compliance entities have sorted out the allowance issue since offsetting is really the only option for large emitters to meet their targets without sacrificing business growth.

“For now, since we just implemented the emissions trading scheme, big companies are busy fighting to get more allowance-based emissions reductions,” he said. “But they will turn their face to project-based emissions reductions related to the offsets at the end of next year.

Note: This article has been updated as of June 2, 2015 with new information regarding the amount of allowances and offsets transacted in South Korea and the names of industry associations involved in the lawsuit against the government, courtesy of Dong-Ho Lee, Researcher and Ph.D candidate at the Department of Forest Services, Seoul National University.

Global Forum To Highlight Solutions To Water Shortages, Stress And Scarcity

10 April 2015 | With historic droughts playing out in different parts of the globe, it seems that water is at the top of everyone’s mind. For the first time ever, groundwater legislation was introduced in drought-plagued California, shortly followed by mandatory water restrictions. Meanwhile, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Taiwan run dry – perhaps waiting for better water resource management.

But just how to manage this increasingly scarce resource is the constant question among those working in the water space. And the answer continues to evolve as policymakers, practitioners and scientists account for new factors like more people and a changing climate.

Center to the issue of water management is cities-hubs of not only water consumption but food and energy also and key to the water-energy-food nexus. A recent breakthrough regarding water management in cities came in the form of Lima, Peru’s new water tariff. The bill allows for nearly 5% of collected water fees to be devoted to green infrastructure, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Over a 5-year period, an estimated $112 million will be collected to address these issues. It’s a significant step forward in terms of not only actual progress made but also a huge show of leadership on the side of Peru’s water regulator-SUNASS (National Sanitation Service Superintendence), said Gena Gammie, a Manager in NGO Forest Trends’ Water Initiative

So it’s also a milestone cultivated in part by Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) over the past three years through its Watershed Services Incubator, a partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment to develop cost-effective methods that would keep the water flowing in one of the world’s largest desert cities.

One such method under consideration by SUNASS is basically restoring pre-Incan canals, called amunas, which allow water to trickle slowly down the Andes Mountains arriving at the bottom just in time for Lima’s dry season. The amunas funnel water across the mountains instead of directly down. What’s more, a Forest Trends report found that amuna restoration – among other green solutions – is more cost-effective than the gray approaches assessed. And with the significant funding directed to initiatives such as this through the water tariff, the odds are in favor of moving the work on the amunas forward.

The water tariff will show how these green infrastructure approaches can address water scarcity, Gammie said. “It’s one part of the solution that’s been underutilized, but we’re now seeing the policy and mechanisms that can make a difference.”

Every Three Years

It’s a message Gammie plans on taking to the World Water Forum, a major convening of private and public representatives aimed at improving sustainable water resource management, happening this week from the 12-17 in Daegu, South Korea.

Hosted by the World Water Council, an international platform for the future of water, the World Water Forum is a big deal. Occurring every three years, it’s a high-level ministerial meeting that attracts CEOs and other top actors from the private sector as well.

This time, the forum was organized using a participatory process where all participants in the forum develop what are called ‘implementation roadmaps.’ These roadmaps are frameworks clarifying the activities and objectives pertaining to water management that governments and private companies are working on. They all feed into the forum’s four themes: Water Security for All; Water for Development and Prosperity; Water for Sustainability: Harmonizing Humans and Nature; and Constructing Feasible Implementation Mechanisms.

Forum events will address these themes through solutions and new data. For instance, one event addressing the fourth theme will discuss closing a finance gap estimated at trillions of dollars. It’s the gap in finance needed to fix existing water infrastructure that’s decaying and then also to construct new infrastructure that ensures the developing world has access to clean water. The panel will specifically look at identifying indicators to determine the role green as well as multi-purpose infrastructure plays in filling this gap. The indicators can then be used to evaluate finance for sustainable water management, according to the event description.

Tough Questions

What will the top topics of this World Water Forum be? It’s likely the current water shortages will come up in many discussions. “Hopefully, the forum will be able to identify and share some solutions that cities can use to mitigate these crises,” Gammie said.

Another topic related to current events that is sure to make its way into the forum’s dialogues is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) negotiations. The United Nations is set to establish them this year with a singular goal focused on water, among other objectives relating to water.

“The World Water Forum will definitely be informed by those negotiations to help direct its own implementation roadmaps,” Gammie said.

Participants like Gammie expect the SDGs to be a key subject among high-level policymaker discussions asking questions such as how should water be positioned within the SDGs Because of the forum’s focus on water management, ensuring the SDGs adequately encompass all matters surrounding water management to achieve sustainable development will also most likely be debated.

“It’s a big year for the world,” Gammie said, referring to the SDGs. It’s fitting then that the World Water Forum is happening this year as well.

It’s also fitting that Fernando Momiy Hada, the President of SUNASS, will be on hand to discuss the groundbreaking water tariff, which has implications for other cities struggling with their own versions of water stress.

 

Additional resources

Myanmar Kills Forests To Plant Farms, Then Forgets To Farm

The four-year-old government of Myanmar came in with a big promise to boost the economy, in part by ramping up agricultural production. But so far, all it’s ramped up is deforestation – destroying some of the most biodiverse land in the world, and then not even planting the farms it had planned to develop.

20 March 2015 | When Myanmar President U Thein Sein took office in March 2011, he had big plans for economic reforms. In particular, the new government wanted to promote industrial agricultural development to attract both domestic and foreign investment and to help boost the country’s economy.

Between 2010 and 2013, the land areas awarded for agriculture purposes increased at an unprecedented rate – 170 percent – and this number is likely a conservative one, as it includes only areas allocated by the central government, and not those “provincial, military, and/or non-state authorities” might have given away. To most, it seemed like the old story of short-term economic gain trumping long-term environmental – and economic – stability.

Recent research by Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends, however, casts doubt on the efficacy of these efforts. A new report, Commercial Agricultural Expansion in Myanmar, released last week, is the first of its kind to investigate the various ramifications of these shifts in land use in the country. As it turns out, they are backfiring – on more than one level – and it is local forests and the people that live in them and depend on them that are being hit the hardest.

For one, the land that has to be made available for agricultural development is not coming from nowhere. It is coming from the clearing of forest lands – of which each year the country is now losing about 1.15 million acres. And not just any type of forest, but “some of Southeast Asia’s last remaining High Conservation Value Forests.” These are forests that are home to house a large variety of fauna and flora – things on which it is hard to put a dollar value – as opposed to the logged timber on which you certainly can, as trade statistics show: timber exports increased from 2.7 to over 3.3 million m3 in just two years (between 2011 and 2013) and the value of these exports rose from $US 1 billion to $US 1.6 billion.

Whether or not the agriculture sector is growing at the same rate as timber exports is unclear – and actually doubtful. As it turns out, of all the land the government is allocating for industrial agriculture, only a quarter was actually planted with agricultural crops. The Forest Trends report takes a particularly close look at two areas, Kachin State and Tanintharyi region, where plantings are especially low (12 and 19 percent respectively), to investigate the underlying dynamics of this phenomenon.

In Tanintharyi region, large swaths of land were designated for the planting of rubber and for oil palm development, partly to meet the domestic demand, partly for export. However, of the 1.9 million acres allocated for oil palm development, only 360,000 have been actually used for it, while it’s unclear how much rubber was actually planted.

In Kachin state on the China-Myanmar border, which has long been a focal point in the news as a result of its precarious geographic position, Chinese – and not domestic – business interests are dominating the situation and Chinese demand for agricultural commodities is the main driving factor for the increased area of land being used for commercial agricultural development. In Kachin, 1.4 million acres were designated for commercial agricultural development – but so far less than 175,000 acres have been actually planted.

The processes by which these land areas are being allocated for agricultural development are, according to the report, “rife with legal loopholes, special permits, and/or exemptions.” Restrictions that the laws may impose can easily be overridden by government authorities. As a result, while timber being harvested from these lands can indeed be considered legal, the ways in which the land areas are being allocated for agricultural development – and the consequential logging of timber – are coming more and more under scrutiny.

An important reason for this is that these processes do not have any social safeguards in place, i.e., they do not provide any way to lessen the consequences these changes in land use have for local communities that live in and depend on these forested areas. It therefore probably comes as no surprise that conflicts around land rights have increased hand in hand with the growing allocation of land areas for industrial agriculture development. Communities lose their land and have not legal recourse for claiming it – and with it the base for their subsistence – back.

If the promised and hoped-for economic growth is supposed to happen and hold up, the obvious tension between commercial agricultural development and sustainable management of Myanmar’s forests has to be resolved. For starters, the agencies that oversee both, the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Policy, the report argues, need to have clarified priorities and roles.

In addition, with the logging of these precious trees largely driven by the desire to export, international standards and processes – such as forest certification or the emerging Forest Law, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) – might be able to influence change by trying to address murky/grey areas such as the trade of timber that may have been felled as a result of dubious logging permits.

Anne Thiel is the Communications Manager at Forest Trends. She can be reached at athiel@forest-trends.org.
Additional resources

This Week In Forest Carbon: Tax Revenue Builds Big PES Scheme In India

For the first time ever, India is including forest cover in its tax allocation formula earmarking $6 billion for results-based forest conservation-more than any other nation in the world. This means the portion of tax revenue state governments receive is partially dependent on how much forestland they maintain.

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

20 March 2015 | Here at the office we are gearing up for March Madness, ready with our brackets, hoping for Cinderella stories to make it to the final four. Over in India, the central government has geared up its own form of a bracket, allocating $6 billion a year in tax revenue for results-based forest conservation within individual states. This announcement comes after the Narendra Modi government realized its pledge to treat states as partners in long-term development, and will transfer 42% of taxes collected by the Central government to states.

The formula for tax allocation to states will, for the first time ever, include forest cover.

India’s 14th Finance Commission, which is appointed every five years to define the financial relations between India’s central government and states, recommended adding forest cover to the formula because: “In our view, forests, a global public good, should not be seen as a handicap but as a national resource to be preserved and expanded to full potential, including afforestation in degraded forests or forests with low density cover. Maintaining a green cover, and adding to it, would also enable the nation to meet its international obligations on environment-related measures.”

 

Within the tax formula, forest cover has been given a weight of 7.5% within the overall formula, accompanying population in 1971 (17.5%), population in 2011 (10 %), fiscal capacity  (50%) and land area (15%).  This means that the share of tax revenue that each state receives will depend in part on how much forest they have maintained, as monitored by India’s 2013 Forest Survey.

 

To put the tax transfer in context, $6 billion is “more results-based finance for forest conservation than any other country in the world, including the current biggest spender Norway,” notes Jonah Busch, Research Fellow at the Center for Global Development, in a recent analysis. Since 2008, Norway has offered around $3 billion for reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD+) through bilateral agreements with Brazil, Indonesia, Guyana, and others.

 

India reports that its re-growing forests remove more than 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere every year, which offsets about 15% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the tax transfer works out to about $120 per hectare per year, which is a larger payment than many other payments-for-ecosystem services programs provide. For example, carbon finance from offset sales flowing to REDD projects averaged $5.2 per hectare globally in 2013, according to Ecosystem Markplace data.

 

More stories from the forest carbon market are summarized below, so keep reading.

 

Ecosystem Marketplace is closely tracking developments in the forest carbon markets for our brand-new North America report, as well as our annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Market reports. But publication of these reports is contingent on receiving sufficient support so contact Gloria Gonzalez if you are interested in sponsoring one or both of these reports.

 

Sponsors benefit from exposure – logo placement on reports that are downloaded tens of thousands of times and shout-outs in this news brief – as well as further insight into our findings through tailored briefings. And that’s not to mention influence: Ecosystem Marketplace’s reports have been cited in the development of emerging carbon pricing programs from South Africa to South Korea, and supporting our research is a good opportunity to influence these discussions.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

Forest Trends and Host Sustainable Brands will launch a new project called Supply Change during a webinar on March 25. The project, resulting from a partnership by the CDP, World Wildlife Fund and Ecosystem Marketplace, will provide up-to-the-minute accounting of corporate actions on deforestation relative to public pledges via the new Supply-Change.Org website. An inaugural report, Commodities, Corporations, and Commitments that Count, will also profile nearly 250 companies with more than 300 specific commitments to sustainable production or use of major forest-risk commodities (palm oil, soy, timber & pulp, cattle). Register here to attend the live web-launch of Supply Change hosted by Sustainable Brands.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Forgive and forget?

Deforestation rates are on the rise again due to an improving global economy, rising commodity prices, and new Brazilian laws that encourage development of the Amazon, according to ecologist Philip Fearnside of the National Institute for Research in the Amazon. After declining deforestation rates from 2004 to 2012, deforestation doubled between September 2014 and January 2015 compared to rates from one year earlier. The new Forest Code is one factor in rising deforestation, because illegal deforesters now assume future amnesty laws will be passed forgiving illegal logging. Another threat is the construction of the BR 319 Highway, which will link Manaus, in the center of the Amazon, with the heavily deforested south and enable people to move into, and around, the Amazon more easily.

 

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Devine intervention

BioCarbon Group and Devine Agribusiness have sold over 300,000 Kyoto-compliant Australian Carbon Credit Units generated from eight forest regeneration projects in eastern Australia. The credits were purchased by a large, multinational, electric company. Director of Devine Agribusiness Carbon Dominic Devine says that “the sale of these carbon credits finally demonstrates that substantial opportunities now exist for Australian landholders to diversify their income through carbon farming.”

SUSTAINABLE COMMODITIES

Beaten to a pulp

Manufacturer 3M Company reached an agreement with longtime critic ForestEthics to refuse to buy wood, paper, and pulp sourced from threatened forests. 3M will require suppliers to trace and report the original “forest sources” of the supply and to secure informed consent of indigenous peoples prior to logging. ForestEthics first targeted 3M in 2013, attacking the company’s supply-chain policies for products such as post-it notes, Scotch tape products, and labels. The new policy will affect at least 5,000 pulp and paper suppliers in 70 countries, and will cost 3M more time and money to oversee the new program.

 

Giving them the boot

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RPSO) announced the expulsion of 15 companies and organizations that have failed for three consecutive years to submit annual reports outlining the progress toward certifying palm oil operations or purchasing certified palm oil. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) commended RPSO for removing members who failed to meet their commitment, while drawing attention to the need for more growers to develop certified mills. Currently only 57 of 119 of RSPO members have their own mill. WWF also called for the last one-third of supply chain companies to become certified users of RSPO.

 

FINANCE & ECONOMICS

No strings attached

Australia will not be able to dictate where its $200 million contribution to the Green Climate Fund will be spent. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and environment minister Greg Hunt had previously said that engagement and funding were contingent upon support by the Fund for Asia Pacific, a focus on the rainforests, and combating illegal logging. The Fund’s executive director Héla Cheikhrouhou clarified that disbursement decisions concerning the $10 billion fund would be made by the board following a single set of guidelines and priorities, many of which happen to align with Australia’s priorities. Countries will be able to track how the fund is performing overall. Prior to Australia’s financial commitment, Abbott was a vocal critic and claimed Australia would not be contributing.

HUMAN DIMENSION

You got the wrong chief

The Amazon Working Group (GTA), a coalition of 600 associations representing smallholder farms, fishermen, rubber-tappers, and indigenous people in Brazil, accused the powerful Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) of slandering elected indigenous leaders who do not agree with CIMI’s stance on forestry management in the Amazon. “We reject [CIMI’s] declarations because they are lies created for the sole purpose of promoting conflict among indigenous peoples,” read a statement by GTA. Much of the criticism focused on CIMI revolves around allegations that CIMI selects indigenous individuals it chooses to work with and promotes them externally as duly-elected leaders. Recently, CIMI falsely identified Henrique Surui as overall chief of the Paiter-Surui, which he is not – Almir Surui is. CIMI has also sought to undermine projects they do not agree with, according to the GTA statement.

 

Deserting before their eyes

Zimbabwe’s land reform policies and subsequent economic collapse have negatively affected the local environment. Fuelwood is a major source of energy for cooking and heating homes for people who cannot afford electricity, or for when there are electricity shortages. In urban areas, the use of firewood has a larger environmental impact because live trees are harvested, whereas in rural areas people gather dead wood. Marylin Smith, a conservationist based in Zimbabwe and former staffer in the government of President Robert Mugabe, says, “The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently and also if people keep razing down trees for firewood without regulation.”

 

STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGIES

Under the peat sea

Permian Global, Wetlands International, and Silvestrum revised the Verified Carbon Standard’s REDD+ methodology to include projects that address deforestation of tropical peat forests and projects to restore damaged peat lands. The methodology now includes six modules for determination, quantification, and monitoring of the baseline carbon stock changes and project emissions associated with peat land conservation and restoration. Peat forests in Indonesia store, on average, 2,009 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

 

Borrowing from the past

The Gold Standard has issued a retroactive guideline for land use and forest projects that qualify as additional. The guideline allows a retroactive crediting period for early movers in land use and forest projects to aid them in accessing carbon finance for their projects. Afforestation and reforestation projects may earn carbon offsets for 10 years prior to using the Gold Standard Land Use and Forests framework, and agricultural projects may date their projects back up to five years.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Blue Devils are the top seed

Two Duke University graduate students are working to develop a new technology to measure forest carbon. The students are working to equip small unmanned aerial drones with GPS-guided light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors capable of surveying 1,000 acres in a day. They hope that when fully developed, the faster, cheaper technology could help develop carbon offset projects on small family owned parcels that are currently too small to justify more expensive carbon accounting. Last month, the students won a statewide $25,000 prize to help make their idea a reality.

 

Digital Love

The Global Forest Watch platform developed by the World Resources Institute and supported by over 60 partners, including Google, has brought transparency to the problem of deforestation and provides real-time tracking of tree cover loss and gain on a global level. It also allowed Mongabay to report that United Cacao, a company that promises to produce ethical, sustainable chocolate, had “quietly cut down more than 2,000 hectares of primary, closed-canopy rainforest” in the Peruvian Amazon. Since the launch of the platform, governments, companies, nonprofits, and individuals have layered on additional information such as land ownership details.

 

PUBLICATIONS

Out of sight, out of mind

More incentives are needed to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Researchers evaluated the optimal policy to balance cost, benefits, and social equity. They determined that the most cost-effective mix of policy is dominated by command-and-control measures, which could conserve 30 hectares of forest for 1,000 Brazilian reals, or about $345 dollars, with an enforcement cost of about R$0.03. However, opportunity cost to land users is large. Between 2004 and 2012 this policy would have caused land users to lose $700 million annually. In addition, remote land users benefit from command-and-control policies because monitoring is difficult, whereas less remote users are subject to closer monitoring.

Food is eating the forest

The expansion of commercial agricultural fields is a leading driver of deforestation in Myanmar, according to a new report on deforestation, conversion timber, and land conflicts in the country by Forest Trends. Land conversion is taking place at an unprecedented rate, losing about 1.2 million acres of forests annually, and the government currently encourages increasing levels of investment for large-scale industrial agricultural expansion. Agricultural expansion has allowed access to high value conversion timber for export markets, the volume of exported timber increased from 2.7 million cubic meters to over 3.3 million cubic meters between 2011 and 2013.

JOBS

Research Assistant, Carbon Group – Ecosystem Marketplace

Based in Washington, D.C., the Research Assistant will be able to commit to 35-40 hours per week to support a range of activities under the Ecosystem Marketplace Carbon Markets Program, including supporting the development of the State of the Forest Carbon/Voluntary Carbon Markets reports. The ideal candidate will have a graduate degree, an interest in conservation finance/payments for ecosystem services and basic knowledge of the carbon markets or another ecosystem service market; excellent writing, verbal communications, research and organizational skills; and excellent working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Senior Program Associate – Winrock International

Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Senior Program Associate will be responsible for assisting the implementation of projects related to ecosystem services including climate change mitigation and adaptation in the agricultural, forestry, and other land uses sector. A master’s degree related to ecology, environmental science, or forestry required, PhD desired.

Director of Policy – Forests and Climate, Climate Advisors

Based in Washington, D.C., the Director will be responsible for accelerating climate action, with a focus on policies that protect tropical forests. Five to fifteen years of practical experience advancing climate and forest-related policy objectives through strategic engagement with policymakers and constituents is necessary. A master’s or another advanced degree is preferred; bachelor’s considered if candidate has exceptionally high-level climate policy experience and political network.

 

Associate, Forest-Climate Policy and Research – Climate Advisors

Based in Washington, D.C., the Associate will contribute to the development of innovative policy solutions to halt climate change by protecting the world’s tropical forests. The Associate will be responsible for researching and writing high-impact policy briefs, background papers, and arranging and attending meeting with government officials, clients, and climate change stakeholders. One to three years of experience plus graduate degree preferred, bachelor’s considered with three to five years practical experience.

Manager, Landscape – Conservation International

Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Manager will oversee Conservation International’s support to three remote project sites in Cambodia, supervising planning, day-to-day and long-term management, as well as the financial and administrative aspects of the projects. The Manager will also pursue new possible projects in forest governance and trade, and facilitate multi-stakeholder policy review of Cambodian forestry management. A bachelor’s degree plus five years of practical experience in forest governance is required.

Conservation and GIS Specialist – Rainforest Trust

Based in Warrenton, Virginia, the Specialist will assist with protected area projects from inception to completion, and monitor their effectiveness through remote sensing techniques. A master’s or PhD and/or significant experience in conservation biology, environmental sciences, or a related field is preferable. Experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ArcGIS, and remote sensing skills is required.

 

Program Manager – European Institute of Marine Studies

Based in Plouzané, France, the candidate(s) will work with the director, Linwood Pendleton, to build an international program on policy, management, and science regarding human uses of the sea and coast, including exploration of blue carbon. A master’s degree in economics, social science, or interdisciplinary studies with a focus on marine and coastal policy preferred (but not required) plus five years of experience, or a doctoral degree and two years of experience.

 

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.

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.

 

Additional resources

This Week In V-Carbon: Taking Stock of California’s Progress

In the two years since the implementation of California’s carbon market, the state’s Gross Domestic Product grew 2% while emissions in capped sectors dropped 3.8%. Across the pond, China has taken note. The nation is working closely with the Golden State through a number of partnerships-perhaps the most prominent being between the Air Resources Board and its Chinese counterpart known as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

This article was originally posted in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

13 March 2015 | All eyes have been on the West Coast of the United States, with the recent completion of California’s second joint auction with trading partner Québec and the launch of two reports about the state’s cap-and-trade program.

The latest auction sold out its 73.6 million allowances, at an average $12.2 per allowance, for more than $1 billion total. However, another aspect of the cap-and-trade program – carbon offsets – have so far been underutilized. Under California’s AB 32, the state law mandating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, regulated companies may purchase up to 8% of their compliance obligations through offsets. As of last November, companies turned in only 1.7 million offsets out of a theoretical 11.6 million that could have been purchased.

Sales from the allowances will be reinvested in alternative energy sources, public transportation and other carbon-lowering activities through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Additionally, 25% of the fund’s money will be spent on reducing pollution in disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by bad air quality.

 

Aside from the lackluster offsetting, a recent assessment of California’s carbon market regarded the system as a tentative success. In the two years since implementation, the state’s Gross Domestic Product grew 2% while emissions in capped sectors dropped 3.8%.

 

Across the (other) pond, China has taken note. According to the recent Asia Society report, A Vital Partnership, China is working closely with the Golden State through a number of partnerships. Perhaps the most prominent exists between the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and its Chinese counterpart known as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

 

Before signing the agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown said: “I see the partnership between China, between provinces in China, and the state of California as a catalyst and as a lever to change policies in the United States and ultimately change policies throughout the world.”

 

Additional pilot projects have occurred at Chinese jurisdictional or province levels with U.S. civil society organizations like The Energy Foundation and The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). EDF’s Mobile Source Emissions Trading System Integration project is a five-year project launched last year with the Shenzhen Low Carbon Development Foundation that will focus on reducing air pollution from “mobile” transportation sources such as cars and buses. Currently, such sources account for nearly 30% of the city’s total emissions.

 

Read more about those projects here.

 

Ecosystem Marketplace is closely tracking these and other developments in California in preparation for our brand-new North America carbon markets report. But this latest report is still missing a vital ingredient – your support! The North America and State of the Voluntary Carbon Market reports are contingent on receiving sufficient support.

 

To sponsor one of these exciting Ecosystem Marketplace products, contact Gloria Gonzalez.

 

Sponsors benefit from exposure – logo placement on reports that are downloaded tens of thousands of times and shout-outs in this news brief – as well as further insight into our findings through tailored briefings. And that’s not to mention influence: Ecosystem Marketplace’s reports have been cited in the development of emerging carbon pricing programs from South Africa to South Korea, and supporting our research is a good opportunity to influence these discussions.

More news from the voluntary carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!

—The Editors

Supporting Subscribers request

If you value what you read in this news brief, consider supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program as a Supporting Subscriber. Readers’ contributions help us keep the lights on and continue to deliver voluntary carbon market news and insights to your inbox biweekly and free of charge. For a suggested US$150/year donation, you or your company can be listed as a V-Carbon News Supporting Subscriber (with weblink) for one year (~24 issues). Reach out to inboxes worldwide and make your contribution here (select “Support for Voluntary Carbon News Briefs” in the drop-down menu).

For comments or questions, please email: ggonzalez@ecosystemmarketplace.com

 

Announcements

Supply Change project launch

Forest Trends and Host Sustainable Brands will launch a new project called Supply Change during a webinar on March 25. The project, resulting from a partnership by the CDP, World Wildlife Fund and Ecosystem Marketplace, will provide up-to-the-minute accounting of corporate actions on deforestation relative to public pledges via the new Supply-Change.Org website. An inaugural report, Commodities, Corporations, and Commitments that Count, will also profile nearly 250 companies with more than 300 specific commitments to sustainable production or use of major forest-risk commodities (palm oil, soy, timber & pulp, cattle).

 

Register here to attend the live web-launch of Supply Change hosted by Sustainable Brands

 

Voluntary Carbon

Ascending to new (environmental) heights

Asendia, the joint venture between European shippers La Poste and Swiss Post, has invested in a carbon offsets project in India to compensate for the carbon emissions it cannot reduce. The project in question has a combined 113 wind turbines across three Indian states that generate 470,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity, which equates to more than more than 41,000 tons equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions in offsets. The project was verified under a Verified Carbon Standard methodology.

Read more here

 

Super Animals are ready to save the world

Taronga Conservation Society Australia and Woolworths have teamed up to offset their Super Animals Wildlife Collectibles album and card series. The Urisino Ecosystem Regeneration Project, Australia’s first carbon project to focus on regenerating degraded land, will offset the carbon emissions from the paper manufacture of the collectible cards by saving 4,761 tonnes of carbon. Taronga Zoo Executive Director Cameron Kerr said: “The collectables campaign have been one of the most successful education initiatives, bringing Australian and international wildlife to hundreds of thousands of primary students… This offset program is the next important step in our commitment to the environment in support of wildlife.”

Read more here

 

The straw that broke the carbon’s back

LifeStraw, a water filtration device developed in 2005 by Mikkel Vestergaard, has been widely distributed throughout Kenya as an alternative to the traditional methods of purifying water by boiling dirty water over a fire. Working with the Gold Standard Foundation, Vestergaard determined emissions avoided per LifeStraw and sold carbon offsets to large corporations to fund the distribution of the straws. Despite local support, experts have questioned the data for calculating the emissions reductions and overall efficacy of the filters. In addition to external criticism, the original funding model has been economically challenged by the drop in price for carbon offsets from $30 per metric ton (tCO2e) in 2008 to $6/tCO2e in 2013.

Read more here

 

30 shades of green

The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Project Luki works with external and local stakeholders to reduce deforestation and degradation in the Mayombe forest, located in the southwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the midpoint of the project, 165 hectares of 400 planned hectares of Acacia auriculiformis plantations have been developed, natural regeneration of 3,000 hectares of grazing savannah have been accomplished, and 30 pilot farms have been installed. The project aims to bring the DRC into the carbon market by sequestering the maximum amount of carbon, and to demonstrate community-based development.

Read more here

 

Last lemurs standing

Offsets from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Makira Natural Park project in Madagascar are now up for sale through the Stand for Trees campaign, which allows individuals to purchase offsets from avoided deforestation projects. The 1,438-square-mile park is home to more than 20 species of lemur. Half of the revenue from offset sales goes to local communities to support initiatives such as ecotourism, improved rice cultivation, and sustainable vanilla and clove production. The project joins 10 other REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects that are part of the Stand for Trees campaign, with two more coming soon.

Read more here

 

Winning the race from the middle

Developer Green Assets has completed the first avoided conversion compliance offset project in the United States. The company’s Middleton Place project has been issued more than 250,000 offsets by the California Air Resources Board, allowing the offsets to be used for compliance with the state’s cap-and-trade program. The offsets would have a total value of more than $2 million based on current prices if sold at once, said Colby Hollifield, Middleton’s woodlands manager. The project conserves more than 3,700 acres of southern coastal habitat near Charleston, South Carolina.

Read more here

 

Compliance Carbon

Trading places

Korean trading firms Korea Carbon, Ecoeye and other companies are cancelling their Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to register their projects in Korea’s emissions trading system. There is little value for the 91 South Korean-based projects registered on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as CER prices have dropped 98% from four years ago. Conversely, the new Korean compliance market lacks supply and has currently bid permits at 10,100 won ($8.96 USD) – a sharp cry from the below $1 prices on the CDM. To make the switch, a project must secure government approval before gaining the equivalent number of Korean Credit Units.

Read more here

 

The market is cleaner… in China

Dutch-based project developer China Carbon announced it wants to move nearly a third of its projects out of the CDM and into Chinese markets. Of the company’s 64 projects, 20 will likely be switched to produce China Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs). Jelena Stankovic, senior project manager at the company, explained that price is the main driver for this switch. The new Chinese pilot emissions trading systems (ETS) average $1.28 per tonne, while CDM offsets sold on the compliance exchange ICE Futures Europe average only $0.44 per tonne.

Read more here

 

Agreeing to disagree

As European Union countries, including Germany, Britain and France, have handed out around 500 million carbon permits to 2015 emitters, those same countries have debated the date to withdraw excess carbon allowances from the market. The Market Stability Reserve, an initiative to temporarily reduce the market supply of carbon allowances, was agreed upon last month by a European Parliament committee. Despite this initial consensus by the committee, political disagreement remains as countries argue over the timeframe. Some countries are pushing for a 2017 start while others such as coal-reliant Poland are calling for 2021. A senior European Commission official said he believes an agreement will be reached by late June.

Read more from Reuters India here
Read more from Reuters Africa here

 

Burning out of (carbon) control

As the Australian compliance market effectively ended in February, carbon project developers are now entering an uncertain future – and an uncertain market. Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), one of the Northern Territory’s longest running carbon farming projects, will soon begin its controlled burning 2015 program to reduce the frequency of late-season wildfires. Through the compliance market, the project sold some of its offsets for $500,000 Australian dollars. Now, ILC is exploring its options by looking into the voluntary carbon market and awaiting more details about the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The first ERF auction, which still hasn’t disclosed the benchmark price, will open on April 15.

Read more here

 

We’ll always have Paris

Last week, Switzerland took the lead in carbon commitments as the first country to officially submit its post-2020 climate action plan. These plans, known officially as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), are instrumental to progress in this year’s climate negotiations held in Paris. In an analysis of the plan, the World Resources Institute (WRI) says the Swiss proposal is clear and comprehensive, but also said the country may be relying too heavily on international offsets instead of domestic reductions. Yesterday, the European Union followed up with its own INDC submission. Despite its inclusion in the draft version, the final submission left out land use.

Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here
Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here

Finance Manager, The Gold Standard Foundation

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Finance Manager will be responsible for financial management, specific pieces of financial analyses to support management. Successful candidates will have experience designing and implementing financial processes, a deep interest in financial modelling, and a passion for sustainable development. A bachelor’s degree in business, finance or accounting with a minimum of four years of experience is required, and a second language (French) is preferred.

Read more about the position here

 

Pathway to Paris Climate Adaptation Associate, World Resources Institute

Based in Washington, D.C., the Associate will be responsible for policy-relevant research, analysis and writing on adaptation-related elements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and lead technical assistance and capacity development activities for developing country governments. Successful candidates will have five to seven years of professional work experience related to climate change, development, or international climate policy. A degree in environmental studies, international relations, economics or similar field is necessary, and a master’s or PhD is preferred.

Read more about the position here

 

Senior Consultant Climate Finance, Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)

Based in The Netherlands, the Senior Consultant will support developing country governments in policy development such as INDCs, Low-Carbon Development Strategies, and National Appropriate Mitigation Actions, and funding proposals to multilateral agencies. The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of experience in climate or development finance, an advanced degree in economics, international development/relations, governance and institutional analysis, environmental economics, or a related field is desired.

Read more about the position here

 

Program Intern, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Incorporated

Based in New York, New York, the Intern will support tracking energy sector and RGGI compliance developments, performing research on GHG emissions reduction programs policy mechanisms, and supporting implementation of offsets protocols. The internship is scheduled from June to August 2015 and features a commitment of 15-20 hours per week.

Read more about the position here

 

Communications Officer, The World Bank

Based in Washington, D.C., the Communications Officer will help conceptualize, develop and deliver communications for the Forest and Landscapes Green Team at the World Bank. A master’s in communications, international relations, public affairs, journalism, marketing, information management or other related disciplines, with a minimum of five years of experience is required.

Read more about the position here

 

Carbon Finance Methodology Specialist, The World Bank

Based in Washington, D.C., the Carbon Finance Methodology Specialist will assist the implementation of large-scale REDD+ programs, focusing primarily on methodological aspects associated with measuring, reporting and verification of results of emission reduction programs. An advanced degree in environmental science, natural resource management/forestry, geography, environmental policy or environmental economics, and at least five years of experience in relevant sectors is desirable.

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.

 

Additional resources

California Moves With Chinese Provinces On Climate

The United States and China made headlines last year with their Climate Pact, but significant collaboration had already occurred at the subnational levels. Both California and several of China’s provinces launched emissions trading systems (ETS) in 2013, and they have been working together ever since. Now, a new report highlights the latest accomplishments and partnerships.

This article was originally posted on The AnthropoZine. Click here to read the original.

March 10, 2015 | When China and the United States announced their Climate Pact to great fanfare last November, the bilateral pledge’s talk of “contributions” shifted the conversation from shared commitments to “common but differentiated responsibilities”: the idea that historical economic differences leads to different responsibilities to tackle climate change today.

Yet, for all its talk of differences, both countries already shared a commitment in the form of subnational emissions trading schemes (ETS).

The California – China Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was the first formal agreement on climate change issues between a US state and China. The MOU was signed back in 2013, when both the state of California and several Chinese provinces launched their ETS.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of officials and experts crossing the pond to share their experiences and form new collaborations. A new report called A Vital Partnership, launched last week by the Asia Society, examines the latest collaborations and partnerships between the two.

The Lure of California

With an economy that outweighs most countries, it’s no surprise that California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) has attracted attention outside its borders. Its subsequent success has only heighted that interest: since its inception in 2013, Californian capped sectors have lowered emissions by 3.8% while the state has maintained economic and job growth that has outpaced the national average.

As China looks to ramp up its seven pilot ETSs into a consolidated national system, the country hopes to replicate California’s economic and environmental prosperity. This has led to a number of agreements and partnerships across a range of actors.

The report tracked fourteen various partnerships currently in effect, with participants drawn across a host of organizations including civil society (research organizations, foundations and NGOs), businesses, government and public utilities.

Four such agreements focus directly on the emissions trading systems, while the rest address such topics as air pollution control, zero emissions vehicles and low carbon technologies.

Though its difficult to make sweeping generalizations about these various partnerships, the report does note that: “What California and its counterparts in China have come to understand is that mutual benefits can flow from such partnerships, not only in the quest for climate change solutions, but also in catalyzing increased trade and investment in clean technology.”

Bridging the Public/Private Divide

Perhaps the most prominent partnership exists between the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and the Chinese equivalent called the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Before signing the agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown said, “I see the partnership between China, between provinces in China, and the state of California as a catalyst and as a lever to change policies in the United States and ultimately change policies throughout the world.”

Formalized on September 13, 2013, the MOU lays out cooperation between the two agencies on key issues, including: mitigating carbon emissions, strengthening performance standards to control greenhouse gas emissions, designing and implementing carbon emissions trading systems, sharing information on policies and programs to strengthen low-carbon development, and researching clean and efficient energy technologies.

ARB has since hosted five Chinese delegations and four webinars, the latest of which also included officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

US-based civil society organizations have also helped China get their pilot ETS programs off the ground.

Within civil society, The Energy Foundation has been engaged since 2011 with several of the pilot ETS jurisdictions to get them off the ground. Though the organization collaborated with NDRC, it primarily worked with equivalent local entities (such as the Guangzhou Energy Research Institute and Tsinghua University) to help these Chinese civil society organizations draft the initial ETS regulations and establish harmonized monitoring, reporting and verification rules across the pilots. Now, the organization is supporting Guangdong, Shenzhen and Beijing to carry out qualitative and quantitative evaluations of their pilot ETSs and impacts on emissions, the environment and economy through March 2015.

As that project wraps up, the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Mobile Source ETS Integration project will be getting off the ground. The five-year project, launched last year between EDF and the Shenzhen Low Carbon Development Foundation will focus on reducing air pollution from “mobile” transportation sources like cars and buses.

Currently, such sources account for nearly 30% of the city’s total emissions and have been increasing at a rate of 15% each year. The research seeks to reduce air pollution from transport through carbon emissions trading and seek to test the feasibly of expanding emissions trading systems to mobile sources. It will start with public transport, but hopes to expand to include private vehicles, freight, railway and marine transport over the course of the 5-year project.

“This partnership will tackle one of the world’s most vexing greenhouse gas emissions challenges – controlling pollution from transportation, an especially fast growing source in China,” said Dan Dudek, EDF’s Vice President and Head of the China Program. “China is the world’s largest auto market, so solving the global climate challenge not only requires China manage its greenhouse gas emissions, it requires China address pollution from mobile sources. China’s experiences could provide valuable lessons for the U.S. in reducing emissions from its transport sector.”

The partnership stems from US Department of State’s EcoPartnership program, which promotes cooperation between local governments and organizations in the U.S. and China in climate and energy issues relating to the U.S – China Ten Year Framework on Energy and Environment Cooperation or Climate Change Working Group. New 2015 applications are currently accepted through March 20.

Additional resources

Indonesia Vows: We Will Be Ready For Results-Based REDD Payments By End Of 2016

11 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru | After announcing his country’s reference levels for forests and deforestation earlier this week, Heru Prasetyo, head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, BP REDD+ (Badan Pengelola REDD+), said their system is advanced enough to begin measuring performance for results-based REDD+ payments by the end of 2016.

“By the end of 2017, Indonesia will be operationally and institutionally ready to implement its payments-for-results agenda,” said. “Right now, we’re developing the infrastructure, doing payments for performance, but by 2016, we promise our people and the world, that we will be earning payments for results in REDD+.”

He recapped in detail the successful implementation of programs that he outlined in an interview earlier, and expressed confidence that the reference levels submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be approved. He added, however, that the reference levels do not include carbon pools that have less certainty, and he stressed that more data would be forthcoming as the certainty surrounding those pools increases.

The actual reference level documents won’t be posted online after the climate talks end, but Nur Masripatin, the Deputy of Governance and Institutional Relations for BP REDD+, said they would include both deforestation and degradation, taking into account development policies in the future, and will include all forests that were still standing in 2000, including carbon-rich peatland forests.

“The data is quite traceable,” she said, reiterating Prasetyo’s confidence in the findings. “When the result is assessed, we can explain it.”

She said the country at one time had up to 14.9 million hectares of peatland forest, but the calculation includes just 8 million because of certainty reason on data availability and its associated emission estimates for the rest that had been deforested prior to 2000.

The submission, and Prasetyo’s vow, cap a massive undertaking that required pulling disparate data from several sources and making sure it was consistent across the country.

“There is so much data from different regions and institutions, and checking consistency was challenging,” she said. “Also, it was difficult getting different institutions to work together.”

Prasetyo says he’s confident the country can now follow up with emission-reductions, in part because BP REDD+ has worked with authorities at all levels of government. Prasetyo says he’s confident the country can now follow up with emission-reductions, in part because BP REDD+ has worked with all levels of government.

“The reference levels are at the national level, but REDD+ has to be implemented at the grassroots level,” he said. “We developed a protocol for how the national and provincial and district and village levels work together in terms of achieving this.”

That protocol currently covers 59 districts in 11 forested provinces, ensuring that all participants will be “an orchestra that will sing together at the village, district provincial, and national level.

“Otherwise what we’ll get is just a collection of projects, and REDD+ isn’t just a collection of projects,” he said. “It’s an agenda of reform, an agenda of government, and an agenda of doing the right thing for the people who depend on it.”

Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Malaysia And Mexico Submit Forest Data For Reference Levels

8 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru | Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico today formally submitted information and data on the status of their greenhouse gas emission reductions in the forest sector to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Such data is required for establishing a forest reference emission level for these countries.

Reference levels in turn constitute benchmarks to assess the performance of developing countries in the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, plus conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests).

Actions on REDD+ establish a financial value for maintaining carbon stored in forests and reducing emissions from land-use changes by using a performance-based approach.

“The knowledge of forest inventories and their carbon stocks is essential to be able to take action on forests,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, President of the UN Climate Change Conference and Environment Minister of Peru. “Countries are not only recognizing the economic value of forests, but also their value for biodiversity, their cultural value and their ability to provide people with a better quality of life.

The data will now be assessed by forestry experts coordinated by the UNFCCC secretariat under rules agreed on last year in Warsaw.

In June, Brazil was the first country to submit information and data on the status of its greenhouse gas emission reductions in the forest sector. The technical assessment of Brazil’s submitted forest reference emission level was finalized last week.

Indonesia’s Merger Of Environment And Forest Ministries A Bold, Difficult Move

This article originally appeared in the November 7th edition of the Jakarta Post. It was also posted on the CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) blog.

21 November 2014 | The decision made by Indonesia’s President to merge the Ministries of Environment and Forestry sent ripples throughout the Indonesian environmental and policy community and could signal that a broad and cross-sectoral environmental agenda would be weakened and simplified. At the same time, it could strengthen jurisdiction over forested lands, which will be consolidated under one ministry. While President Joko Widodo repeatedly reminded Indonesians that we have been forgetting marine affairs, one can only hope that he does remember that there are numerous unresolved conflicts over land and land ownership in our back yard.
In any case, it was a bold move: The political ramifications of combining ministries can be unwieldy. Merging two distinct bureaucracies with their own strengths, weaknesses and different capacities is a challenge in any country, in any context. It could be some time before the new ministry is operating at full speed. Needless to say, the President’s justification to strike a balance between professionals and politicians in his Cabinet remains under public scrutiny.

But beyond bureaucracy and politics, what does this mean for Indonesia’s environment=and for its forests? Indonesia’s high deforestation and forest degradation rates are causing serious local, national and global environmental problems raising the stakes for the significance of this merger.



Many opportunities arise from the creation of this new ministry.

For one, it could help to consolidate the management of issues that used to be under the partial jurisdiction of both ministries. Land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, for example, should no longer be a finger-pointing exercise at the national level instead, a single ministry could take real, collective actions to address the underlying causes of fires, so that fire prevention is more effective than firefighting.

Second, the strengths and weaknesses of the two old ministries could complement each other, especially in terms of financial and human resources. Strong environmental laws are weakened when there are insufficient resources to carry them out; merging two ministries can help to fill in any gaps in expertise or resources necessary to take on the huge tasks ahead.

Third, one single ministry could be more politically powerful than two smaller ministries provided that the available resources are optimized and/or mobilized to meet the new and common goals. After duties and responsibilities are sorted within the new ministry, continuous enhancement of capacity of staff will be crucial.

FOR MINISTRIES, 1+1   2

However, there are also challenges presented by this move.

For one, with no single ministry focused only on forests, will Indonesia’s forests become overshadowed by other priorities? For example, would forest land use be handled by the equally new establishment of the Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning?

Second, will the new ministry be able to overcome “turf wars to successfully merge into one? Much will depend on the final structure of the new ministry. For example, the six large Directorate Generals in the old Forestry Ministry will not be easily harmonized with another six large units under six deputies in the Environment Ministry into one large, functional system. This is a big challenge that may put some high-ranking officials out of their jobs.

Orchestrating numerous legal instruments, let alone Law No. 41/1999 on Forestry and Law No. 32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Management, is not an easy task. It will require strong leadership from a sensible conductor to synchronize the tunes formerly performed on different stages in front of different audiences. Winning the confidence of the new ministry’s stakeholders will require proof of concept in a timely manner; likewise, stakeholders should not let the “new kid stumble out of the blocks or go astray unguided. It is the responsibility of Indonesian society to assist them in remaining focused.

This merger is a potentially pivotal moment for the future of Indonesia’s forests. It is hoped that the new ministry will not only keep Indonesia’s forested landscapes at the top of the agenda, but will provide the resources and clout to balance the high value of economic goods derived from the forests, while safeguarding these lands and the invaluable services they provide.

This new ministry could have profound implications not just for the country, but for the world.

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Daniel Murdiyarso is a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Carbon Conservation: From Giant Pandas to Swiss Grocer

14 November 2014 | This fall, baby panda Bao Bao the pride of Washington, DC’s National Zoo turned one year old. The event was marked with speeches by the National Zoo Director and the Chinese Ambassador to the US, both of whom referred to her as an ambassador for endangered species and for all of China.

Even her name, meaning “precious or “treasure in Chinese, is rooted in the race for her species’ survival. Bao Bao represents one of fewer than 2,000 giant pandas living today.

In China’s Sichuan Province, conservationists are working to save her cousins in the wild, but they can’t use high-quality foods or climate-controlled settings to ensure ideal panda conditions. Instead, the major part of their effort is focused on minimizing or avoiding negative impacts.

For the pandas living near the Mamize Nature Reserve, the biggest threat is habitat loss from deforestation. But just as the threat stems from humans, so can the solution: in the form of improved cooking stoves.

People living in or near panda habitats often rely on firewood for cooking and heating. In southern Sichuan Province, residents use on average 30 tons of firewood each year for their traditional, inefficient stoves. The traditional mud or stone stoves feature poor thermal efficiency and conspicuous bellows of smoke, meaning locals will spend up to three months out of every year collecting firewood and run constant risk of respiratory illness while cooking.

The Ideal Location

 The current giant panda habitat is in three provinces in China: Gansu, Shaanxi, and Sichuan.<br /> ©Map by WWF
The current giant panda habitat is in three provinces in China: Gansu, Shaanxi, and Sichuan.
©Map by WWF 

With the panda habitat increasingly threatened, WWF joined with South Pole Carbon and the Mamize Nature Reserve to develop the Firewood Saving Cookstove project. The new and improved stoves feature chimneys and efficient internal air circulation that reduces carbon dioxide emissions and maximizes efficiency, saving an estimated 50-70% in firewood use.

For WWF, the location seemed intuitive, as the Mamize Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province sits at the southern-most edge of giant panda habitat and, as of the last panda census, is home to four wild pandas.

While the program made sense from a conservation perspective, WWF still had to convince local villagers who weren’t comfortable using the stoves initially to give them a chance.

Traditional stoves in the area have an open pit for the wood, meaning that locals could cut and place any-sized sticks into the fire. The new stoves aren’t as convenient. They sport a closed hatch, which is greater for energy efficiency, but requires villagers to chop the wood into smaller pieces that fit properly.

Warding off the Evil Spirits

For the first two years of the project, WWF worked with the local Mamize Nature Reserve staff to distribute 15 pilot stoves and with the Swiss-based South Pole Carbon as a technical advisor to ensure the project follows Gold Standard requirements for voluntary carbon projects.

The Mamize staff did most of the on-the-ground work. The staff regularly monitored progress and shared information with WWF, who visited the project site at least once a year. During one of these visits, WWF staff noted some of the chimneys were covered.

“I wondered why the chimneys were covered,”said Jiang Zeyin, Senior Programme Officer at WWF China. “We installed these chimneys to get rid of the fatal indoor air pollution. But people then put a cover on the chimneys so that the smoke can’t get out.”

The reason was completely unexpected: the villagers feared that evil spirits could enter the houses through the chimneys.

Together with the villagers, the Nature Reserve staff and WWF found an alternate way to keep the spirits out. By putting the iron chimney cap on small wooden sticks, the chimney is elevated a few centimeters, which allows smoke to get out of the house and repels the spirits trying to get in.

By the time the pilot had been adjusted to local needs, village recipients had started to spread the word about the improved stoves, which allowed project proponents to move to the next phase: scaling up.

Bagging Carbon Finance

woman2-300x196

Woman collecting firewood © Jiang Zeyin, WWF China.

Despite the project’s continual improvements, the biggest impediment to adoption remains financing. The stoves used by the project cost an average $200-300; due not to the tiles, chimney, or other materials, but because skilled labor is needed to install the stoves on location. Also, both labor and materials need to be transported to the Mamize Nature Reserve, a costly 10-hour drive from the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. While villagers contribute by purchasing the pots that fit into the stoves worth about $20 carbon offsets cover the substantial remainder.

Most other WWF projects require additional funding beyond the income from the carbon offsets, but the Swiss grocery giant Coop stepped in to purchase the initial offsets as part of the company’s commitment to zero emissions. Coop offered something unheard of to most carbon project developers these days: upfront financing. That helped the Mamize project become the first WWF Switzerland voluntary carbon project fully paid for through carbon offsets.

“As carbon projects are results-based, you don’t obtain money first and then start building stoves, observed Bella Roscher of WWF Switzerland. It’s the other way around. In this case, Coop provides WWF with upfront funding for carbon offsets expected to be generated three years down the line.

The first Swiss company to set up its own carbon offsetting fund, with an annual 2 million Swiss francs available, Coop has extensively mapped out and reduced emissions throughout the supply chain. Activities that can’t be reduced any further such as business travel or the air transportation of food are then offset through the fund.

The company’s stringent reduction efforts led to the WWF-Coop partnership in the first place. A company has to avoid and reduce emissions to the greatest extent possible before offsetting its remaining emissions through a WWF project certified by the Gold Standard, Roscher explained. Coop fit those standards.

“They’ve really done their homework, she said. “Their internal monitoring system in place is extraordinary.

However, while the company worked with WWF on the Mamize project, it wants to focus on supporting activities that directly relate to its supply chain. Thus, Coop purchased offsets generated from the initial 1,600 stoves distributed in Mamize, but does not want to pursue an expansion.

Looking Beyond Carbon

Roscher understands Coop’s reasoning, and is now looking for other buyers.

 Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)   in a tree. Wolong Panda Reserve, Sichuan Province, China.  © Bernard De Wetter / WWF-Canon
Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in a tree. Wolong Panda Reserve, Sichuan Province, China. © Bernard De Wetter / WWF-Canon.

 

“The challenge we are facing right now is we plan to expand the project from 1,600 stoves to 2,800 stoves, and need to look for funding elsewhere, she says, adding that one option might be finding a buyer who is interested in other project benefits besides carbon. After all, WWF created the project to save pandas; reducing carbon was a byproduct. The Mamize project also reduces indoor air pollution, thus improving health, and it saves up to three months of time for collecting firewood, which enhancing livelihoods, and saves 225 hectares of forest a year.

Roscher will submit project proposals to potential funders currently not active on the carbon market. “The fact the project is externally verified by the Gold Standard gives it credibility, she said “It makes the project strong, regardless of whether carbon credits are generated.

The case for co-benefits was made more compelling by a Gold Standard Foundation study, The Real Value of Robust Climate Action: Impact Investment far Greater than Previously Understood, released earlier this year. The report featured the Mamize project alongside four other case studies. Calculating the project’s biodiversity and economic benefits resulted in an estimated $1.43 million per year more than three times the project’s total costs. These detailed amounts might entice companies interested in making a difference in issues besides carbon.

And saving a panda habitat is a very strong attraction. Bao Bao could use some panda playmates to share her frozen apple juice birthday cake with.

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Kelley Hamrick is an Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at khamrick@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

Beneath The Surface: The Ambitious Carbon-Capture Water Plan Embedded In The U.S.-China Climate Announcement

This post first appeared on The AnthropoZine. You can view the original here.

17 November 2014 | Last week, the United States and China, the world’s leading polluters, announced plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen cooperation on issues related to climate change and clean energy. While the announcement centered on the nations pledges on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets (a reduction of 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025 for the United States, and a goal for China’s emissions to reverse their upward course by 2030), a White House fact sheet offered a more detailed glimpse at additional actions.

The document announces a renewed commitment to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, established by a 2009 agreement between President Obama and China’s then-president Hu Jintao. It also includes a cooperative effort to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a “Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon city-planning initiative, and an effort to encourage trade in “green goods.

Perhaps most interesting, deep in the fact sheet’s second page, is the document’s description of “a major carbon capture and storage project in China that supports a long term, detailed assessment of full-scale sequestration in a suitable, secure underground geologic reservoir. As it goes on, the plan announces a “new frontier in CO2 management, with “a carbon capture, use, and sequestration (CCUS) project that will capture and store CO2 while producing fresh water, thus demonstrating power generation as a net producer of water instead of a water consumer. According to the fact sheet: “This CCUS project with Enhanced Water Recovery will eventually inject about 1 million tons of CO2 and create approximately 1.4 million cubic meters of freshwater per year.

The description is loaded with promise yet bogged down with technical language. So how will it all work?

Carbon capture and storage projects aim to collect CO2 from industrial emissions and store it someplace generally underground or underwater where it won’t be released into the atmosphere. Some such projects aim not only to keep CO2 from entering the atmosphere, but also to produce something useful or marketable in the process. In the example discussed here last month, a Canadian energy company designed a facility to collect unwanted CO2, which was then sold to be injected beneath an oil field to free up oil that had been stuck in rock formations. The U.S.-China plan suggests a similar approach, but with the byproduct of extra oil swapped out in favor of fresh water something China badly needs.

Those seeking a comprehensive explanation of the process should seek out scientific writings, but here we can provide some basics. Once CO2 is captured from emissions, it can be compressed and transported to a geologic formation where it will be securely, and permanently, stored. Depending on conditions at the storage site, the injection of CO2 into these spaces can effectively push water from the ground, allowing it to be collected for industrial use or distribution to areas in need. In some cases, water extracted in the process can be clean enough to drink.

The project certainly has its share of unanswered questions, technical challenges, and areas for concern. And there is also the question of whether this non-binding agreement will receive continued long-term commitment from each country. But with proper safeguards and execution, the carbon-capture water project could represent a novel approach to an urgent problem, and potentially a meaningful blueprint for cooperative climate actions to come.

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Mike Noren is a Chicago-based writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience across a wide variety of educational and reference publications. He can be reached at mikegnoren@yahoo.com.

Bunge Jumps into Deforestation-Free Palm Oil with a Splash

This article was originally published on the Union of Concerned Scientists website. Click here to read the original.

30 October 2014 | On Monday Bunge, an agribusiness and food ingredient company based out of White Plains, New York, indicated its intention to ensure the palm oil that it sources will be deforestation- and peat-free. Coming from one of the largest traders of palm oil in the world, Bunge’s announcement is significant for what it means for both the world climate and for ecosystems at risk due to palm oil production. But to me it also signifies that the status quopalm oil that is linked with deforestation and peatland destruction is a sinking ship that is increasingly risky to stay aboard.

Bunge eyes the shore

UCS and our allies have been engaged with Bunge for months now. We’ve corresponded with them. We’ve met with them at their headquarters in White Plains. We traveled to Singapore for a conversation with their suppliers. And with your help, we’ve put the pressure on some of the companies buying palm oil from Bunge. Two such companiesDunkin Brands and Krispy Kreme recently came out with new pledges on palm oil. Meanwhile, two of Bunge’s competitors, Wilmar and Cargill, dove headfirst into zero-deforestation by announcing policies that apply across a range of commodities. Amidst such an atmosphere of change, Bunge is moving forward with its new policy.

Bunge’s new policy protects primary and secondary forests and updates its labor and human rights safeguards. It saves peatlands from development and better manages existing plantations on peat. And because Bunge purchases some of its oil from areas with lots of peatlands, the new commitment has the potential to save huge amounts of carbon. I’ve written before about the importance of peat soils, and particularly the pushback of growers in Sarawak, Malaysia. With proper implementation, Bunge’s commitment could help steer the region towards greater conservation of peatlands.

The realization of each of these measures will mean considerable effort on Bunge’s part. By committing to a new policy, they have signaled to the world that it makes better business sense to move forward even with added costs than to risk doing nothing and falling behind new industry standards.

Or only testing the waters?

However admirable the policy is for the reasons outlined above, the Bunge policy does not set target dates for implementation. It commits only to start to collaborate with suppliers and stakeholders to develop timelines. Timelines are important because they provide a sense of urgency and accountability. And while the policy rightly prioritizes tracing palm oil back to the plantation for areas that are deemed at risk, it makes no commitment to do so with all of the palm oil it sources at any point in the future. Without these timelines, Bunge can be said to be testing the waters, perhaps dipping its toes into the water, but it is not yet swimming to safety.

We will have to wait and watch in the coming months to see whether Bunge makes good on its promise and takes the further step of setting some explicit time deadlines, and then follows through on those timelines, to ensure it is accountable for the palm oil it sources before we can term it safely ashore.

Who is still going down with the ship?

Bunge’s commitment marks yet another trader that will soon be offering palm oil that is deforestation and peat-free. The rapidity with which companies have been making commitments over the past year can be likened to an emergency evacuation. As more companies swim to safety, fewer and fewer are left in the quickly sinking ship, desperately bailing out water. It makes me wonder when these companies who have not yet made commitments companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, and YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut) are going to take the plunge and swim to shore.

It’s sunny and dry on the beach. We’re saving you a seat.

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China’s Grand Carbon Trading Experiment Experiences Highs And Lows

22 October, 2014 | About 30,000 runners competed in the 26-mile Beijing Marathon in China this week. But a dark cloud hung over what should have been a joyous event, literally, as in the thick smog that forced many participants to race with masks over their mouths.

Beijing and six other jurisdictions launched pilot carbon trading systems within the last 18 months to address the pollution problem that has plagued the country. The city of Qingdao is set to join the mix in 2015 after recently approving plans to start its own carbon market in preparation for the expected implementation of a national market in 2016.

China’s pilot programs combined already constitute the second largest carbon market after the granddaddy of trading schemes the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), according to a World Bank analysis. However, the anticipated national carbon market in China would regulate 40% of the country’s economy, making it by far the largest in the world, by covering roughly 3-4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide up to 2020 and worth up to $65 billion if fully implemented.

The stakes are high because a successful national program in China, which is now responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, could trigger more widespread adoption and possible linkage of national and subnational carbon markets across the globe. Given the stakes, experts are taking a hard look at how China’s pilot carbon markets have fared to date. And they are finding plenty of room for improvement.

“This is still a work in progress a real experiment, Barbara Finamore, Senior Attorney and Asia Director, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said during a Climate Action Reserve webinar on Tuesday. “Of course (China is) the big kahuna. If China is able to succeed it will set a standard that others will follow.

 

The Key Three

Resources for the Future (RFF) just examined the three longest-running pilot cap-and-trade programs likely to serve as models for a national program in China: Guangdong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

“The pilots in Guangdong, Shanghai and Shenzhen have made significant progress in building a cap-and-trade market, RFF stated in a paper called Assessing the Design of Three Pilot Programs for Carbon Trading in China. “Some aspects of pilot designs represent a deft tailoring of a fundamentally market-based instrument to a socialist market economy. Yet potential design deficiencies remain.

Allowance prices in the three programs are relatively stable, with Guangdong generally having the highest carbon price of around ¥60 or US$10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). Volumes of traded allowances remained very low until right before compliance deadlines and the total number of traded allowances constitutes a small fraction of the total number of available allowances. For example, the most active market Shenzhen traded a total of 1.6 million allowances throughout its first compliance year, equal to nearly 4% of the total allowances available in the market, which indicates a very low liquidity market, the RFF paper noted.

Two of the three pilots, Shanghai and Shenzhen, met their compliance deadline of June 30, 2014, with Shanghai achieving 100% compliance and four out of 635 industrial firms in Shenzhen failing to comply on schedule.

Local governments, however, had to go through significant effort to ensure full compliance with the programs, sometimes at the expense of their environmental integrity, the RFF authors noted. Regulators in Shanghai, for example, unexpectedly held a one-off auction to introduce additional allowances into the market on June 30. Companies purchased 7,200 allowances at this auction, meaning the effective cap likely rose by the same amount, which potentially increased overall emissions and weakened the environmental integrity of the Shanghai pilot, said Clayton Munnings, RFF Research Associate and co-author of the paper. It’s unclear if this occurred because Shanghai has yet to publish official estimates for the overall cap.

Guangdong postponed the first compliance deadline by nearly a month, with two out of 184 firms ultimately failing to comply by the later deadline. Regulators also conducted a fifth and unplanned auction on June 25 with nearly two million allowances.

“The challenges we’re seeing with the pilots will certainly be exacerbated once we move to a national system, NRDC’s Finamore said.

 

No Easy Fixes

Strengthening the legal and administrative foundations was at the top of the list of recommendations RFF made on solidifying the carbon trading pilots. It’s a concern shared by Finamore, who noted that 25% of covered entities in Beijing’s program were still refusing to participate near the end of the first compliance period. It wasn’t until the local government started cracking down inspections and talking about fines potentially three to five times the average market price for each tonne of carbon dioxide exceeded that there was a last-minute rush to obtain permits, which drove up prices in July to nearly $12/tCO2e.

“There is a lack of a strong legal foundation for carbon trading in China, she said. “There isn’t anything in the law or even in the plan that requires companies to participate.

To ensure compliance, RFF suggested that lawmakers state in a national environmental law that regulated firms should be fined on a per tonne instead of per violation basis, with the fine being equal to a multiple of the average market price of allowances for each tonne of excess emissions. This national environmental law should also explicitly mention that such penalties apply to cap-and-trade systems for carbon.

RFF also proposed incorporating achievement of emission reduction goals to the individual performance reviews of participating government officials and executives of state-owned entities (SOEs). Tying the achievement of environmental goals to the possibility of promotion and demotion helped China achieve its sulfur dioxide reduction goals in the late 2000s, the authors noted.

Coverage of these SOEs will be an important issue in moving toward a national program, Munnings said. A small number of SOEs constitute a majority of carbon emissions coming from the electricity sector and a national program would likely need to cover these SOEs from the electricity sector to control carbon emissions, he said. This makes fining on a per-tonne basis and tying achievement of goals established by a cap-and-trade program to performance reviews of SOE executives particularly applicable, Munnings said.

Increasing transparency of the cap by publicizing business-as-usual emissions and the emissions impact of complementary policies is also on RFF’s list of recommendations. Transparency about emissions levels remains a critical issue in the pilots, including in Beijing even though the world’s eyes are on the city due to its air pollution problem, Finamore observed. Beijing highlighted a 4.5% drop in GHG emissions in 2013, but did not identify the baseline for the reduction or how many permits were issued in the program, she said.

“It’s very difficult to get a clear picture from any of these pilots about what’s going on, Finamore said.

China’s pilots have not yet linked to allow trading between the programs, but Guangdong may consider interprovincial trading with Hubei and other provinces, with regulators calling for further research on linking and setting a goal of designing an interprovincial market before 2020. However, the RFF authors recommended regulators attempt to identify the sources of low levels of liquidity before trying to increase trading activity and noted that such links may not be established if a national program starts in 2016.

Shenzhen which is part of Guangdong Province, but has its own pilot trading program because of its independent, sub-provincial division status has experimented with innovations designed to attract foreign investors such as allowing trades to be settled in foreign currency, Finamore said.

“They would love to link to the international carbon markets as soon as possible, he said.

 

Offsetting Not a Factor Yet

The local governments largely set the rules and oversee the pilot carbon markets, with the exception of the offsets component, which is administered by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Offsets for China’s pilots are known as China Certified Emissions Reductions (CCER) a reflection of the fact that the approval process closely resembles the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Certified Emission Reduction (CER) program. The NDRC plays the role of the CDM Executive Board in overseeing the development of project methodologies and registrations and hosting a national registry. The NDRC has already announced it will allow 14 projects to generate six million offsets that could be sold into the pilot markets.

Offsets generated in China’s pilot trading programs have a unique advantage over allowances issued during the pilot phase because the offsets are being developed under regulatory guidelines by the NDRC and are therefore likely to be carried over into any national scheme that emerges.

Offsets can generally be used for compliance in the pilot programs for up to 5-10% of obligations, but there are restrictions. Companies in Guangdong cannot use CCERs to comply with more than 10% of their annual emissions, and 70% of the CCERs used must originate in the province.

Producers of HFC-23 offsets banned from the EU ETS because of perverse incentives that encouraged their production remain eager for new buyers and are hoping the NDRC will approve and issue CCERs for their projects, Munnings said.

“Even though all pilots do contain provisions that allow for limited use of offsets, I remain slightly skeptical that many offsets will be used in the pilots at least in the near future, he said. “First, I think the NDRC will act very cautiously to only approve and issue offsets with high environmental integrity, which would limit the overall supply of offsets. Second, even if a healthy supply of offsets emerges, I think pilot regulators might act to further discourage regulated firms from purchasing offsets in order to ensure price discovery in the allowance markets.

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Gloria Gonzalez is a Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program. She can be reached at ggonzalez@ecosystemmarketplace.com

2007: The Year Indonesia Went REDD (Sort Of)

28 October 2014 | After their first meeting with Todd Lemons at the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) orphanage in Pangkalan Bun, the OFI team started reaching out to friends in the local ministry of forestry while Birut© Galdikas started angling for a meeting with federal Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban. Lemons, meanwhile, went back to Hong Kong to work his rolodex in search of businesses that shared his enthusiasm for using carbon offsets to save forests.

The two were hardly the only ones pursuing REDD financed in Indonesia in 2007, for the country was gearing up to host year-end climate talks on the resort island of Bali. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had brought the talks here to shine a light both on the role that forests play in regulating climate and on the role that economics plays in driving deforestation. For that, Indonesia was a perfect showpiece. Cheered on by the rest of the world, the country had successfully built a $20-billion-per-year palm-oil sector a stunning economic achievement, but one that came at the expense of its forests and the traditional people who lived in them. In becoming the world’s largest producer of palm oil, Indonesia had quietly become the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and by 2007 the cheers were turning to jeers even as the Western appetite for cookies, crackers, and toothpaste continued to drive the destruction.

More and more people, however, were beginning to realize that you can’t slow deforestation without addressing the economic activities driving it, yet there was little consensus about how to do that. After all, palm oil is a global industry as are timber and paper and “greening them requires global solutions that address the activities of consumers, intermediaries, and producers. Proponents of REDD saw it as an effective mechanism for at least partially addressing the production component, but critics saw it as a distraction from the larger issues of sustainable supplies.

Governor Irwandi Yusuf of Aceh Province was an early proponent.

Big REDD: the Ulu Masen Project

Roughly 2000 kilometers to the west of the operation that Lemons and Galdikas were undertaking, Yusuf was looking to save a rapidly-disappearing forest called the Ulu Masen Ecosystem. It spread across 750,000 hectares, and the consulting team he hired, headed by John-O Niles of the Tropical Forest Group, estimated that an 85% reduction in deforestation would prevent more than 3 million tons of CO2 from billowing into the atmosphere every year.

Yusuf began spearheading what would have become the largest REDD project to date one designed to slow deforestation in part by jump-starting sustainable palm oil, coffee, and cocoa programs. This would ensure that the activities driving deforestation in Ulu Masen don’t just migrate down the road (a process called “leakage”), but are instead transformed into more sustainable practices that continue to meet existing demand but without killing the forest. He then implemented a moratorium on illegal logging across the entire province and even began to personally lead raids on loggers camps to enforce the moratorium and show potential investors that he was serious.

It was a gamble that cost his province millions in the short term, but it also made sense because the Bali talks were supposed to culminate with the creation of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. To do that, they would need to bridge a schism between industrialized nations and developing countries a bridge built in part on REDD offsets. The World Bank had already created the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), and Australia had pledged $100 million to support REDD efforts on Borneo.

There was just one problem: no two people seemed to agree on what REDD was, exactly.

Shades of REDD: Projects and Programs

To understand the state of REDD in 2007 and even today you have to understand it’s history. The mechanism began to germinate in the late 1980s, and North American energy provider Applied Energy Services (AES) became an early proponent when it started looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint by saving endangered rainforest in Paraguay Mbaracayº Forest. To do so, the company worked with Paraguayan NGO Fundacion Moises Bertoni (FMB) and the indigenous Ach© people as well as North American NGO The Nature Conservancy to create a 300,000-hectare zone of sustainable agriculture around a 64,000-hectare private reserve. To calculate the amount of carbon locked in trees, they adapted long-standing practices from forestry and the timber trade. The procedures they used then aren’t much different from those used today: they went out and measured the trunks of trees, then used trigonometry to estimate their height, and finally they applied formulas to extrapolate the carbon content.

Experimental REDD projects were beginning to take shape across Latin America, but the experimentation wasn’t focused so much on measuring the carbon content of forests as it was on measuring the impact that project developers had on that content. In the argot of the industry, experimentation was focused on creating a “baseline” deforestation rate, or a “reference level” that would represent the best estimate of what would happen if business as usual continued. REDD credits would then be issued for the difference between that reference level and the final results.

REDD continued to evolve throughout the 1990s, but traditional environmental organizations like Greenpeace fought to keep it out of the Kyoto Protocol. In 1997, they succeeded. That year, the Kyoto Protocol was finalized, and REDD (then still called “Avoided Deforestation”) was excluded from the list of recognized mitigation activities. There it remained until the end of 2005, when Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica pieced together the Coalition of Rainforest Nations with the aim of getting REDD onto the agenda at 2005’s year-end climate talks on Montreal. This was the year the Kyoto Protocol came into effect, and it was also the beginning of negotiations to forge the Protocol’s replacement, since it was only slated to run through 2012. Papua New Guinea spearheaded an effective campaign to get REDD on the post-Kyoto agenda, and when the Montreal talks ended in December 2005, REDD was in.

But all those years that REDD was out of the United Nations climate mechanisms, it was continuing to evolve in voluntary markets, and by 2007 there were nearly 20 voluntary carbon standards under development, generating scores of methodologies for measuring man’s impact on forests. When climate negotiators allowed REDD back into the climate talks, they created a new category separate from the projects that people like Lemons and Yusuf were developing.

So as talks approached, REDD was running on two parallel tracks: the“project-level track that had been evolving on the ground, and a new “programmatic” track that was coalescing in the minds of negotiators. While projects would cover small patches of endangered forest, programs would cover entire countries or at least states within countries. At the time, the general assumption was that the tracks would cross in the emerging “jurisdictional approach that would let individual projects “nest” within programs that covered entire jurisdictions. When California’s then-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, launched the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force to facilitate agreements between states in different countries, Yusuf was among the first to join.

The project-level approach and the programmatic approach each had its own strengths and weaknesses: neither can be called simple, but projects are at least small and manageable compared to entire countries, but they are also limited in scope, and some of the deforestation they prevented inevitably “leaks” to other locations (Project developers do account for leakage and have to subtract it from their total credits, but they can’t eliminate it).

National programs, on the other hand, are all-encompassing, but they’re also large and cumbersome. They’re so large and cumbersome, in fact, that none exist to this day. Between now and the year-end talks in Peru, we’ll be examining Indonesia’s efforts to change that.

Next Week:

The Art and Science of Measuring Forests

This Week In Water: New Loan Fund For Conservation

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

1 August 2014 | Greetings! We’ve got just over a month to go before our latest market report, the State of Watershed Investment 2014, is launched. 2012 and 2013 have been the biggest years ever for funding for natural infrastructure projects – this year, we’ve inventoried more than 400 programs around the world and tracked movements in financing structures, project design, and outcomes. We’ll be holding a report launch event at World Water Week in Stockholm on September 1st. Stay tuned for an announcement including event details.

In California, state officials are debating whether to allow projects curbing tropical deforestation into the state’s carbon cap-and-trade system. What caught our eye this week was the argument that Brazilian deforestation may be driving California’s current drought: researchers found that total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall in the Pacific Northwest by 20% and cause a 50% reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for California.


We usually think of water as a local issue, but it connects us all in surprising ways. That includes bringing together people and organizations to solve water problems collectively: in this month’s Water Log we have news of public-private partnerships in Tanzania and China to address watershed risk.


We also have coverage of an new collaborative mechanism for finance, a revolving loan fund (RLF) in Costa Rica’s San Carlos basin. The RLF provides zero-interest loans to community groups to protect important source water areas. Operating in rural areas where the state-run water company has little or no presence, the RLF reports that communities are eager to finance watershed protection – and so far, borrowers have a 100% repayment rate.

On a final note, be sure to take a look at the ‘Jobs’ section below – there are lots of interesting positions this month.

Cheers,

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact newsletter@ecosystemmarketplace.com


EM Headlines

GENERAL
The Nectandra Institute: Making it rain

In rural areas worldwide, watershed protection is desperately needed, but project developers are stymied by a lack of water users with deep enough pockets to pay for it. In Costa Rica’s San Carlos watershed, the non-profit Nectandra Institute has come up with a solution: a self-replenishing revolving loan fund (RLF) that lets borrowers pay back money over time as benefits from conservation accumulate. RLFs have been used in many places, including the United States, to finance big infrastructure projects. Now, the model’s supporting investments in “natural” infrastructure: the forests and grasslands that recharge the aquifer, trap erosion, and filter out pollution.

Keep reading.

 

Forest Trends renews partnership with Peru on national ecosystem services incubator

On Thursday, July 17 Forest Trends signed a second MoU with the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM), to continue its collaboration with the Ministry on the national Ecosystem Services Incubator. During the first two years of is existence, the Incubator has played a fundamental role in providing technical support and securing significant financial support for watershed services projects throughout the country, as well as building bridges between MINAM and other Peruvian institutions such as SUNASS, the national water regulator, and ANA, the National Water Authority.

Read a press release (in Spanish).

 

Does Brazilian deforestation drive drought in the United States?

California regulators overseeing the state’s cap-and-trade program now have one more reason to recognize offsets generated by saving endangered rainforest in Latin America. This week, they learned that the destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest will probably slash rainfall in the United States, depriving drought-choked California of even more drinking water.

Read more from EM.

 

Three images that illustrate the challenge of life on a managed planet

You can’t separate people from climate change. We caused it, and we will suffer from it. The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, recently tried to summarize the interplay between people and the planet in one wall poster, and the result is a stark reminder of the fact that we now live on a managed planet.

Take a look here.

 

In The News

POLICY UPDATES

US gov’t enlists green infrastructure to build climate-resilient nation

The administration of US President Barack Obama is launching efforts to help build the country’s resilience to climate change. The administration recently presented its Green Infrastructure Collaborative to advance green infrastructure implementation through joint operations of several government agencies. The group will provide technical assistance to cities, as well as funding for at least 25 communities.

The NRDC Switchboard blog has the story.

 

GLOBAL MARKETS

China’s Chishui River water fund will draw on public private partnerships

Collaboration between the Asian Development Bank and China’s southwest province, Guizhou, aims to finance watershed protection and sustainable development in the region’s Chishui River, an economically significant waterway and a tributary of the Yangtze River. The duo agreed to develop a water fund that would merge investments from both public and private sources into long-term protection for the watershed.

Get coverage.

 

WWF finishes work on Water Risk Filter 2.0

This month the business analytics company Prognoz completed work on the Water Risk Filter 2.0, an updated version of the original Water Risk Filter. The Filter is a creation of the World Wide Fund for Nature; the 2.0 model offers more advanced water risk analysis that companies and investors can use in decision-making.

 Learn more.

 

Public-private collaboration to tackle Tanzania’s water worries

Public-private strategies are popping up across to help develop and finance projects addressing the country’s shrinking groundwater supplies and widespread lack of access to sanitation, the Guardian reports. That includes a water stewardship effort backed by companies like SAB Miller, Coca-Cola Sabco, and construction firm Nabaki Afrika to clean up the Mlalakua River in Dar Es Salaam. SAB Miller through the Water Futures Partnership (WFP) has put forward $257,000 for that effort. “Companies are seeing that they are beginning to face complex water risks that they can’t manage on site, like groundwater pollution across the city affecting many businesses and communities,” explains Robin Farrington, a water stewardship adviser at GIZ which is part of the WFP.

Keep reading.

 

Wetlands chosen as most cost-effective and efficient method to wastewater management

Instead of constructing new and expensive wastewater treatment infrastructure, the city of Gisborne in New Zealand has proposed building a wetland system at half the cost. The city’s wastewater committee says wetlands are the more resilient choice – they’re more likely to withstand natural disasters than grey infrastructure, have a longer life expectancy and contribute to overall restoration of the bay. Wetlands even offer the possibility of another revenue stream through the sale of carbon credits.

Learn more from the Gisborne Herald.

 

Buybacks benefit all users in dry US West

Water users in the US Southwest all suffer equally from water shortages. But in a display of water cooperation between farmers, government agencies and conservationists, some of the Rio Grande’s water will return to its floodplain providing habitat for natural species that once flourished there. The vehicle is a voluntary water trading mechanism where water rights are bought from willing sellers and used to restore riparian land.

Get the story from NatGeo NewsWatch.

 

SAB Miller boils down its thinking on water stewardship

Multinational brewery SAB Miller recently posted an update on its high-level water risk assessment process, looking at dozens of its breweries around the world to understand not just on-site water management but watershed-level risks as well. Among the findings so far: 1) We need data, data, and then some more data to understand hydrological conditions; 2) Local stakeholder engagement is key; and 3) Make the business case. “We need to express the issue in terms of business risk, not hydrological risk,” writes David Grant, SAB Miller’s Senior Manager of Water Risks and Partnerships.

 Read it here.

 

Bethlehem inks a carbon deal with Disney to protect its watershed

The Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney, which will purchase forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The four-year contract with the entertainment giant will replace a previous agreement with automaker Chevrolet. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest. For Disney long a lover of forestry projects as this Ecosystem Marketplace story noted buying offsets from this project helps the company meet its environmental goals such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2013 (a goal it achieved).

Get the story here.

 

Looking to Quito for water fund wisdom

Quito, Ecuador is home to the world’s longest-running water fund, known as FONAG. Launched in 2000, FONAG now has an endowment of $12-14 million and funds tends of thousands of dollars of watershed protection work each year in the Quito area. Farmers are paid to put up fences to keep cattle out of streams or restore degraded areas. The fund is a model for similar efforts elsewhere in Latin America, North America, and Africa – which have drawn on FONAG’s experience for valuable lessons. For example, finding the right ratio between investing capital and spending on conservation. “Almost every one of the water funds makes investments immediately to show investors results,” says Aurelio Ramos, TNC’s director of conservation programs for Latin America. “It’s a strategic move and a lesson we learned from the Quito water fund.”

Ensia has coverage.

 

Experts find forest-filtered water tastes best

Boston was once famous for its polluted waterway. But this summer, the city took first prize in a water taste test hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Getting to this point, however, cost Boston billions of dollars in cleanup. It also led to the city investing in land preservation that resulted in 400 square miles of forest surrounding its drinking water sources. Boston’s success provides more support for source water protection strategies.

Keep reading.

 

JOBS
Senior Advisor Climate Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction

Deltares – Various, Netherlands

The unit Scenarios and Policy Analysis is one of the seven units of Deltares. Our unit aims at developing methods and applying knowledge and expertise in policy development, regional processes, adaptive water management and innovation. In our unit approximately 80 persons are employed. The unit is located in Delft and Utrecht.

One of the unit’s four sections is ‘Climate adaptation and risk management’. This section focuses on adaptive delta management under the uncertainty of climate change, and the management of floods and extreme events as to contribute to disaster risk reduction, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The Senior Advisor will: Perform specialist advice and international research studies on the adaptation of water management to climate change, flood risk management and disaster risk reduction; Develop, acquire and implement projects in this field, both in the Netherlands, Europe and abroad; Liaise with knowledge institutes, private sector, governance and financing institutes as required, both nationally and internationally; Strengthen the positioning of Deltares in this field in international networks and strategic partnerships.

Learn more here.

 

Communications Manager, Ecosystems

Environmental Defense Fund – Various, United States

EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.

Learn more here.

 

Socio-Economic Postdoctoral Research Officer

Bangor University – Gwynedd, United Kingdom

Applications are invited for a three year post-doctoral research officer post in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography to work on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust called “Can Payments for Ecosystem Services deliver environmental and livelihood benefits? The project is conducted in collaboration between Bangor University and Fundacion Natura Bolivia.

Learn more here.

 

Policy Associate

Pacific Forest Trust – California, USA

The Policy Associate will provide support to PFT’s policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The position’s primary focus is research, analysis and supporting policy development for private forestland conservation incentives in California and federal policy. A secondary focus is on state policy in the Pacific Northwest. Duties include research and analysis of climate change policies, forest energy policies, forest watershed service programs, conservation tax policy, and state and federal conservation funding programs. The Policy Associate will also support PFT advocacy efforts by drafting letters, memos, representing PFT at meetings and providing support to PFT organized coalitions.

Learn more here.

 

Program Associate, Watershed Protection

William Penn Foundation – Pennsylvania, USA

The Foundation’s programmatic investments are led by the team of Senior Program Officers. The Program Associates support the work across the three funding areas (Closing the Achievement Gap, Creative Communities, Watershed Protection), as well as Research and Analytics. The Program Associates work on projects as assigned by Senior Program Officers to meet the needs of the Foundation. This specific position will focus primarily on supporting the work in Watershed Protection but will also be given assignments in other areas on an as needed basis.

Learn more here.

 

EVENTS

Reciprocal Agreements for Water School

Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia with the support of various donors has established a School for Reciprocal Agreements for Water (Acuerdos Recí­procos por Agua, or ARA). The school seeks to inspire leaders in the region through training and education, working with mayors, municipal government, leaders of indigenous organizations, farmers and producer associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The School teaches how to implement ARA schemes in various contexts, with the goal of scaling up the ARA model in Bolivia and Latin America and through ARAs ensure the conservation of water and biodiversity-rich ecosystems. This intensive six-day course reviews in detail the establishment of ARAs. Each course has twenty places open will run in August and again in October of this year. All trainings are held in Spanish. The first course will be held in the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Vallegrande, Bolivia 11 to August 16, 2014.

Learn more here (in Spanish).

 

World Water Week 2014: Energy and Water

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more here.

 

Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.

 

One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit

Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.

Learn more here.

 

16th Annual BIOECON Conference

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.

Learn more here.

 

World Green Infrastructure Congress

The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.

Learn more here.

 

ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

CONTRIBUTING TO ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.

 


Click here to view this article in its original format.

Wrestling With Orangutans: The Genesis Of The Rimba-Raya REDD Project

This article is the fourth in a series. You can also view the previous installment here.

 

24 July 2014 | As a former collegiate wrestler,  Todd Lemons knew the look of an eager athlete ready to grapple, and  these orangutans had that look in spades.

He encountered them in the forest behind Orangutan Foundation International‘s (OFI) orphanage in Pangkalan Bun, on the island of Borneo. All were  adolescents who had witnessed the murder of one or both of their parents, and all of them owed their lives to the woman escorting him: OFI founder Birute Galdikas.

Instinctively, Lemons crouched to engage the first one to step forward. They waddled around in circles, each looking for an opening in the other’s defense. Finally, the orangutan lunged; Lemons intercepted; others loped into the fray. Soon, at the age of 40, Lemons was engulfed in a gaggle of rowdy red apes, all of them rolling and wrestling and – yes – laughing.

“It was at once the most amazing experience of my life and one of the most heart-wrenching,” he says. “Amazing because they’re better than us in many ways: They’re generous and intelligent, but they’re also naí¯ve, and they have an amazing sense of humor.” Heart-wrenching, he adds, because they don’t belong in an orphanage.

 Todd Lemons and an orphaned infant

Todd Lemons and an orphaned infant.

Emotional Engagement

Lemons had flown from Hong Kong to Borneo just hours earlier, and that first spontaneous encounter with orangutans provided what he calls “an early point-of-no-return” – his first emotional engagement with the orangs of the hutan – the “people of the forest” in the languages of both Indonesia and Malaysia. It also provided Galdikas with an opportunity to learn a bit about this hyperactive businessman who’d called her just a week earlier with a crazy plan to save the forest and had now shown up on her doorstep unannounced.

“I realized then that Todd loves the orangutans,” says Galdikas. “He still gets down and wrestles with them and rolls around like they do – it’s the most wonderful thing.”

Lemons would return to the orphanage scores of times in the coming years – sometimes alone, and sometimes with his Indonesian partner, Rusmin Widjajam, or with his American partner, Jim Procanik. Often they’d come for business, but just as often they’d come for respite from the David and Goliath struggle they found themselves enmeshed in as they struggled to save the forest.

“In my darkest hours throughout our epic five-year battle, I went back to the care center many times to strengthen my resolve,” says Lemons.

Muddling Through It

Impressed by the way Lemons connected with the orangutans, Galdikas asked him to accompany her on a boat ride to Camp Leakey, the rescue facility she built in the early 1970s with the support of her mentor, primatologist Louis Leakey. Lemons soon found himself teetering along underwater balance beams that served as a sort of jungle boardwalk in the dry season – which this wasn’t.

“I was surprised at the grace with which Birute navigated the slippery, unseen boards knee-deep,” he says. “I kept slipping off and spent half my time up to my chest in swamp water.” It was, he says, a visceral re-connection with the elements he’d always sought as a child but only found intermittently as an adult.

“I got my start in the Amazon, but I’d spent the past five years of my life manufacturing widgets in China,” he says. “Now I was back in the forest with a meaningful purpose, with wild-born orangutans, and with a world-renowned scientist who had made the cover of National Geographic twice.”

It was, he thought, a life his grandfather would approve of.

How the World Works

He and Galdikas spent the evening at Camp Leaky under a solitary solar-powered light bulb – in a setting that Lemons describes as “epic”.

 The Trimates: Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Galdikas..

The Trimates: Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birute Galdikas.

“Up to then, I had looked at this from an academic and economic viewpoint,” he says. “Now, it was taking on profound philosophical tones. I began to feel like I could really make a difference in the world that my kids would inherit.”

Galdikas, however, still wasn’t sold. She’d hosted more than her share of wide-eyed idealists and overconfident businessmen over the years, and very few of them ended up doing anything of value for the orangutans. With the Seruyan Forest disappearing just over the horizon, she needed someone who not only wanted to make a difference but had both the smarts to get it done and the fortitude to see it through.

“I could feel Todd’s sincerity, but I still thought he was naí¯ve,” says Galdikas. “Nobody who’s not a native-born person will ever understand a new country completely.”

Lemons begs to differ. In his mind, Galdikas is more Indonesian than anything, even though she grew up in Canada. “She sometimes calls me ‘Mr. Todd’ – the way Indonesians call someone ‘Pak’ so-and-so,” he says. “She loves this country the way certain immigrants to the United States love their adopted home.”

She lectured Lemons on the value that Indonesians place on politeness, hierarchy and rules; and she warned him that the brashness that gets you to the top in California would come across as oafish on Kalimantan, the Indonesian word for Borneo. Lemons told Galdikas about his career in forestry, and how he’d navigated the cultures of Latin America and China. He said he was tired of the rat-race and was looking forward to working with conservationists and other “civilized” folk.

Her response took him aback.

“She read me the riot act,” says Lemons. “She told me that compared to doing business in China, doing conservation in Indonesia was a snake pit.”

Galdikas told him not to idealize the world of conservation. “There are some wonderful people in this field – some of the best I’ve ever met,” she says. “But I told him that when you start dealing with some of the big conservation groups, the fundraising tail is wagging the conservation dog.”

What’s more, she added, those dogs only see one pie of funding. “They’re all fighting over that pie behind the scenes,” she says.

Lemons countered that REDD would change all that because it would make the pie bigger.

A New Conservation Paradigm

REDD, he said, was part of a whole new economic paradigm built on the premise that our economy depends on our ecology, and that good land stewardship delivers a higher economic value than palm oil does. While some blamed market mechanisms for all the world’s ills, Lemons saw markets as a powerful but amoral tool that sometimes needed direction. REDD, he said, directed the power of the market into conservation.

“I loved what he was saying, but I wasn’t convinced it would work,” she says. “I knew there’d be opposition from people who don’t like markets, and so did he, but I also knew that a lot of the traditional conservationists would see him as treading on their turf.” As an anthropologist, she told Lemons, she’d learned a few things about turf wars, and she warned him it wouldn’t be pretty.

“It was an amazing lecture, about NGO culture and business culture and about Indonesian culture and North American culture,” says Lemons. “She was married to a Dyak chief, and as an anthropologist who straddles two cultures, she really understands the cosmology of the Indonesian people and how that cultural and historical worldview shapes the way they behave.”

 BirutÄ— Galdikas, Siswei, and Todd Lemons share a rambutan lunch.

BirutÄ— Galdikas, Siswei, and Todd Lemons share a rambutan lunch.

As a Canadian, she also understood where Lemons was coming from, and she pointed out how his own cultural and historical worldview conditioned him to seek consistency, while Javanese cosmology embraced paradox.

“She gave me amazing advice early on that I didn’t even understand at the time,” he says. “But it rang clear and true as I found myself immersed in a very complex and foreign culture.”

Still, it was the ideological differences between the business world and the nonprofit world that he found most challenging – differences that he says he should have seen by the way REDD had evolved.

Chasms and Camaraderie

Long before there was REDD and its efforts to pay for the protection of trees based on their carbon content, there was the timber trade, which paid for forests based on their “merchantable” wood content. In order to pay for that merchantable wood, they had to measure it, and they became incredibly adept at doing so. After all, millions of dollars were at stake on every transaction, and they wanted to get it right. Lemons came from that world, and when he heard of REDD, he assumed the powers-that-be would just adopt the calculus of timber to save the forest rather than destroy it. He was wrong.

Galdikas, meanwhile, was beginning to think Lemons might actually be able to get the job done – not because of anything he said, but because of something he did.

“As we sat around barefoot on the floor with the Camp Leakey staff, Todd immediately picked up on the cultural taboo of exposing the bottom of ones feet to the other guests,” says Galdikas. “Also, they have a custom that when somebody in the group gets up, they kind of hunch over so as not to tower over the other guests.”

Like the ubiquitous Western handshake, the Indonesian hunch is a modern custom with traditional roots: the Dyaks of Indonesia always kept their heads lower than that of the king’s, and today it’s just good manners. Galdikas says that Lemons picked up on that right away, too. “That’s when I realized he might have a chance at navigating the complexities of Indonesian society,” she says.

But Lemons had questions of his own.

The Peat Bog Wild Card

His questions weren’t about Galdikas – after all, she was a public figure, and he’d researched her thoroughly – but he’d been spooked by those scraggly trees that dominated the landscape. “I came from a forestry background, and I knew those trees didn’t hold enough carbon to cover the cost of measuring them,” he says.

He had a list of criteria that would have to be met if this thing was going to work commercially: the forest would have to be in danger (check). It would have to be home to an endangered species (check). It would have to contain massive amounts of carbon (question mark).

Lemons knew that Kalimantan’s carbon was locked in peat bogs, because those bogs made headlines around the world when the El Nií±o draught lit them up  in 1997 and 2003. On satellite images, those bogs looked like smoke bombs, and scientists estimated they pumped 200 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere  in 1997 alone. That translates into 734 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the air, or the equivalent of 180 million extra cars on the road.

“I know there are peat forests on Kalimantan,” Lemons told Galdikas. “But where are they?”

“We’ve been knee-deep in one all day,” she laughed. “Well, I’ve been knee-deep; you’ve been neck-deep – but it’s the same forest, just on the other side of the park.”

And that, says Lemons, is when it all finally fell into place. “Somehow, I had stumbled into a peat swamp forest that provided a critical buffer zone to a national park, home to one of maybe four remaining forests with high-density relic populations of wild orangutans,” he says. “My potential partner was a conservation rock star, and if there was ever a forest that met the definition of being under ‘imminent threat’, this was it.”

This forest, he told her, had environmental value, and REDD made it possible to convert that to economic value. Economically, he said, it wasn’t worth more alive than dead, but it was worth enough alive that they could use REDD to save it.

“We’ve been trying to save the Seruyan for seven years, and I’m out of options,” she said. “They’ve given it to palm oil, and in five years, it will be gone. If the entire eastern border goes to palm oil, they’ll deforest half the national park. They’ve already illegally deforested 2,000 hectares of the northern quadrant.”

She paused.

“OK,” she said. “Let’s do it. If you can save this forest, you’ll make a believer out of me.”

Next Installment: Birute visits the Minister of Forestry while Todd dives into the calculus of REDD.

 

This Week In V-Carbon News…

This article was originally posted in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

25 July 2014 | Is New Zealand next? Australia disappointed carbon market advocates last week when its national legislature voted to scrap the country’s carbon tax and planned emissions trading system (ETS). The AU$23 carbon tax incentivized significant pre-compliance offset purchases in 2012. Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report accounted for five million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in offset transactions that did not see a repeat in this year’s report. Australia’s offset market will likely be replaced with an “Emissions Reduction Fund,” which would serve as a reverse auction for the government to buy from competing sellers.

Having already opted out of the Kyoto Protocol’s second phase, New Zealand is contemplating going the way of its Oceania neighbor and abolishing its ETS. The future of the NZ market rests with a general election in September. If the ruling National Party retains the power to form a government, then no change to the system is expected. The speculation has pressured prices on the NZ ETS over the last month.

However, there is life after Kyoto as Japan’s J-Credit System shows. The system combines the two prior offset standards: the Japan Domestic Clean Development Mechanism program that offered local certification of businesses’ emissions reductions, and Japan’s Verified Emissions Reduction System, which verified domestic project offsets. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Kelley Hamrick spoke with Noriko Hase from the Overseas Environmental Cooperation Center about the improvements made by streamlining the two programs into one all-inclusive standard in 2013 and the potential effect on demand for voluntary offsets in the country.

These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!

For the fifth year running, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace is collecting data about forest carbon projects around the world to include in our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. This is the only market-wide, freely available research tracking performance-based payments for emissions reductions in forests, and we rely on a global survey to ensure that our data is representative.

Help us spread the word!

Our survey for forest carbon project developers is available in English HERE and in Spanish HERE.

Every year, Ecosystem Marketplace relies wholly on offset market participants to financially support the State of research. In return, sponsors ($7.5k+) and supporters ($3k) benefit from the report’s growing exposure, early insight into our findings, and opportunities to engage directly with Ecosystem Marketplace in report-related outreach and events. Interested organizations should contact Molly Peters-Stanley.

The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Offsets for everyone
The United Nations (UN) Climate Change Secretariat recently launched a campaign to allow everyone to purchase certified emission reductions (CERs) to increase demand for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offsets. The secretariat’s staff and their families are the first eligible to offset their personal greenhouse gas emissions with CERs, via a fund that provides dedicated financing to projects building climate resilience in 40 countries. Local governments and other individuals will be allowed to participate in the future. CERs are produced by projects in developing countries registered under the UN’s CDM offset program, which has struggled with declining demand and low pricing in recent years. Read more here

 

Like a rock
Chevrolet will purchase 100,000 tonnes of carbon offsets generated by voluntarily implementing nitrous oxide abatement technologies at a CF Industries Holdings nitrogen manufacturing facility in Mississippi. The Terra Yazoo City #9 project is listed with the Climate Action Reserve under its Nitric Acid Production Project Protocol and the deal was brokered by ClimeCo. Chevrolet will retire the offsets as part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative, which features a goal of reducing eight million tCO2e. CF Industries will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation to support excellence in farmer education and fertilizer best management practices. Read more here

 

Bambi would be proud
The Walt Disney Company struck a deal with the Bethlehem Authority to buy forest carbon offsets from a nearly 20,000-acre project in Pennsylvania. The 4-year deal will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which the Bethlehem Authority will use to improve its aging water system and protect the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The project is developed by Blue Source under a Verified Carbon Standard methodology and registered with Markit. It will generate just under 25,000 tCO2e in annual estimated emission reductions. Disney is one of the largest purchasers of offsets in the voluntary carbon markets, retiring 457,882 tCO2e in 2013 and 433,677 tCO2e in 2012, according to company data.
 Read more here

 

Dialing down emissions
The Mobile World Congress 2014 has been certified carbon neutral by the Spanish Association for Standardisation and Certification, AENOR. The annual conference in Barcelona, Spain offset approximately 165,000 tCO2e with the assistance of project developer Factor CO2. Conference organizer GSMA purchased CDM offsets from the Dongliuxi Erji Hydropower project in the Hubei province of China, bundled wind power projects in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and the Olkaria II Geothermal Expansion Project in Kenya. Read the press release
More from AENOR

 

The final score
Sixteen companies donated 545,500 CERs in response to Brazil’s “Low Carbon World Cup Initiative”. The Brazilian government offered publicity in official documents in exchange for CERs based in Brazil. The program’s goal was to offset the 1.4 million tCO2e associated with the event’s stadium construction, local transportation, and fossil fuel electricity consumption. The top donor was Tractebel Energia a division of French utility GDF Suez with 105,000 CERs, followed by chemical manufacturer Solvay Rhodia with 100,000 CERs. Read more here

 

Scaling the mountains
The Appalachian Mountain Club has sold over 100,000 offsets from its Katahdin Iron Works conservation property in Maine to The Climate Trust, which is using the offsets to fulfill its obligations under an initiative to address carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants in Massachusetts. The offsets were verified under the Climate Action Reserves Forest Project Protocol. Proceeds from the sale will benefit projects such as the Maine Woods Initiative, a strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The strategy addresses regional ecological and economic needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships. Read the press release

 

Compliance Carbon

Going above and beyond
The Norwegian Carbon Procurement Facility (NorCaP) has closed its first call for proposals and is expected to purchase 21 million CERs at an above-market average value of nearly $3.1 each. The principal objective of NorCaP is to prevent the reversal of emission reduction activities by obtaining offsets from projects whose survival or continued emission reductions depend on a higher carbon price than achievable under current market conditions. The offsets will be purchased from 13 different projects and used to help meet the country’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. A second call for proposals is anticipated in September 2014. Read more here

 

Out of Africa
Vitol, Bunge and Shell Trading have purchased over 3.5 million CERs from African carbon offsets developer Ecosur Afrique. The companies will buy around 510,000 CERs annually for at least the next seven years, with closing prices determined at the time of delivery to the final customers. The offsets will be sourced from five clean energy projects: four in Burundi and one in Uganda. Read more here

 

Backed by the Crown
The British High Commission in South Africa awarded Johannesburg-based Promethium Carbon a grant to help prepare local companies for the country’s forthcoming carbon tax, which is expected to start at $11.2/tCO2e in 2016. The program includes the option to utilize offsets for compliance with the tax and Promethium will use the grant to start a pilot trading market for carbon offsets on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange next year. Promethium estimates the initial prices for South African offsets in the range of $7.5-$9.4 per tonne. The value of the grant was not disclosed. Read more here

 

Give me just a little more time
South Korean Ministries will move to delay the country’s ETS scheduled to start in January 2015. Officials will take an unspecified time to recalculate the “business as usual levels to ease pressure on industry. The ETS has been opposed by business groups such as the Federation of Korean Industries. The matter now goes before the National Assembly where the likelihood of passing revised legislation is uncertain. Read more here

 

Science & Technology

Don’t let the carbon escape
Construction has started on the first commercial-scale post-combustion carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the United States. The Petra Nova CCS and enhanced oil recovery project is being developed via a partnership between NRG Energy, JX Nippon and the Department of Energy, which contributed $167 million. The project is located at a NRG Energy coal-fired power plant in Texas and aims to capture 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. The CO2 will be pumped through an 80-mile pipeline to the West Ranch Oil Field and injected into the ground to boost oil production and store the power plant’s carbon. Read more here

Featured Jobs

Climate Policy Associate – The Climate Reality Project
Based in Washington, DC, the Climate Policy Associate will be responsible for tracking, analyzing and evaluating international and US climate policy and politics for the Science and Solutions Team. Ideal candidates will have a master’s degree plus two to three years of work experience in climate policy, with a particular emphasis on international climate policy and familiarity with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process. Read more here

 

Climate and Air Legislative Affairs Manager – Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Based in Washington, DC, the Climate and Air Legislative Affairs Manager will serve as point person in identifying, developing, and overseeing execution of legislative strategies to advance EDF’s climate and air priorities. Successful candidates should have an advanced degree and at least seven years of policy experience, including experience working with senior Congressional and Administration officials, and coalitions of national-level interest groups and associations. Read more here

 

REDD+ Team Leader – Österreichische Bundesforste
Based in Pakse, Laos, the REDD+ Team Leader will be responsible for implementation of a REDD+ project in Xe Pian National Protected Area and its buffer zone. Preferred candidates will have an advanced degree in forestry with a minimum of five years of relevant work experience. Ideal language skills include English, German and Lao.Read more here

 

Practice Area Team Leader, Climate Change Adaptation – Engility
Based in Alexandria, Virginia, the Climate Change Adaptation Team Leader will head the organization’s business development and ongoing US Agency for International Development (USAID) programs in climate change adaptation, resilience, urban infrastructure, and environmental services. Ideal candidates will have a master’s degree in an area relating to climate change, urban development, or environmental issues with 10 years of relevant experience. Previous USAID experience is required.Read more here

 

Senior Advisor Climate Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction – Deltares
Based in Delft, Netherlands, the Senior Advisor will conduct international research studies and implement projects on the adaptation of water management to climate change, flood risk management and disaster risk reduction. Successful candidates will have an advanced degree in hydrology, civil engineering, physical geography, or similar field of study with 10 years of international experience in water management. Fluency in English is required and knowledge of French, Spanish or Portuguese is preferred.Read more here

ABOUT THE ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACEEcosystem 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.

 


Biodiversity Backers Continue Push For Convergence In June

New guidance from the Center for Biological Diversity aims to integrate biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards while a study finds REDD+ isn’t delivering the positive outcome for wildlife as originally thought. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace continues to unfold its series on saving Indonesia’s forests and orangutan habitat from palm oil development.  

This article was originally posted in the Mit Mail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

21 July 2014 | When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she began frantically trying to raise money for her organization, the Orangutan Foundation International, in efforts to stop the slaughter of orangutans in the forest. One day, her phone rang.  

“I remember it clearly,” she says. “This man says he’s calling from Shanghai, China, and he won’t stop talking, won’t let me get a word in edgewise, and then he asks me – and I’ll never forget this – he asks me if there’s a forest that needs to be saved.”

 

The man’s name was Todd Lemons, a serial entrepreneur from the United States who’d grown up listening to his grandfather’s tales of his adventures in the Amazon and reading National Geographic. It was on the magazine’s October, 1975 cover that he first encountered Galdikas.

 

“He started going on and on about how trees capture carbon and people would pay us to save the trees to stop global warming, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, a carbon cowboy.'”

 

Still, something kept her on the phone. Maybe it was his knowledge of forestry. Or maybe it was just curiosity on her part. Whatever it was, when they hung up, she’d pegged him as sincere and knowlegeable about the timber trade – but naí¯ve about the rest of the world.

 

He called again about a week later, this time from his home in Hong Kong, and caught her on her way to Los Angeles International Airport.

 

“I was in a hurry,” Galdikas says. “So I told him that if he was serious, he’d have to come and visit me in in Pangkalan Bun.”

 

About a week after that, she heard a knock on her door. It was Lemons.

 

 

In this month’s Mitigation Mail, we highlight a new special reporting series from Ecosystem Marketplace that takes us deep into Indonesia’s forests, where biodiversity advocates, carbon financiers, and sustainable commodity certification developers are joining forces to save the country’s forests from clearing for palm oil.

 

It’s a signal of eco-markets’ maturation that cross-cutting stories like these are becoming more common. More than ever before, conservationists and entrepreneurs have a range of financing strategies and tools at their disposal to protect important places – consider how the Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney to sell forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest.


Of course, work needs to be done to make sure that all the benefits promised are actually being captured. An article this month from Mongabay finds that REDD+ projects aren’t delivering expected wildlife conservation outcomes. A step in the right direction is the CBD’s new guidance on integrating biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards and certifications, discussed below.


It’s also been an…interesting month in the US wetland and conservation banking space – check out our Mitigation Roundup below for stories on a lawsuit over a South Carolina bank’s plan to convert freshwater wetlands to salt marsh, a proposal to sidestep mitigation requirements by raising and releasing lesser prairie chickens in Kansas, and the uncertain fate of blueberry general permits in Michigan.


Finally, if you enjoy your monthly MitMail, help us keep the lights on: consider making a small donation. As a not-for-profit organization, it’s our mission to provide top-notch, freely available information on environmental markets and conservation finance, and we rely on our supporters to be able to do so. Just $150 gets you a place of honor on our sidebar for a year. Click here to donate.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


EM Exclusives

Examples, dialogue, and clearer policy need in biodiversity offsetting

In early June, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in London at the To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond conference to discuss how to ensure that development is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in biodiversity. They explored international experience and policy on no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social fairness.

 

“There is a real genuine interest in the topic of no net loss of biodiversity now,” says BBOP Director, Kerry ten Kate. “People want to discuss it and share ideas and hear different perspectives from around the world.” Many useful lessons were shared throughout the two days and recommendations sprang from every session. However, a number of cross-cutting, key issues emerged as major themes – including strengthening protections, clarifying policy, and considering offsets only within the context of a mitigation hierarchy.

Keep reading.

How a primatologist, an industrialist, and an ecosystem entrepreneur took on big palm oil and won

When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she thought all was lost. Then she met ecosystem entrepreneur Todd Lemons and industrialist Rusmin Widjajam. Here’s how they blended cutting-edge finance and old-fashioned moxie to outmaneuver Big Palm Oil and save the forest.


We all use palm oil every day, and nearly half the world’s supply comes from Indonesia – with devastating results for the country’s forests, wildlife, and the global climate. Fixing it is no easy matter.

Keep reading.


Mitigation News

Comment period extended for proposed rule clarifying CWA jurisdiction

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it’s extending the public comment period on a proposed rule clarifying jurisdiction over waters of the United States, until October 21, 2014. The proposed rule, developed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, aims to provide a consistent definition of the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, after years of muddled interpretation and ad-hoc decision-making. The EPA says the extension is in response to the volume of comments already received and signs that the rule is not being interpreted as intended. “There’s a lot of concern among agricultural interests in their states and what the industry has read into it,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters. “We need some time to get out there and, if need be, write the rule in a way so the intent is understood.”

Read the public notice.
Learn more about the proposed rule.

Study finds unequal balance between carbon stocks and species richness

While the primary objective of the market mechanism REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) is to reduce carbon emissions coming from forest loss, preserving vital habitat for wildlife was thought to be a valuable byproduct. However a new study found that forests rich in carbon that are being conserved through REDD+ don’t necessarily contain the same richness in wildlife. The mechanism may even propel species toward extinction. Research for the study took place in Antioquia, Colombia where researchers found deforestation activities simply moved from the fuller forests to the more sparse areas where a higher number of endemic species live. The study does note the overall success of REDD+ in reducing emissions and deforestation, but encourages a more comprehensive approach when selecting areas for protection.

Mongabay has coverage.

Mitigation roundup

Here’s what happened in the US mitigation world this month:

 

The first conservation bank in Santa Barbara County just opened its doors, with the 853-acre property offering credits for the threatened California tiger salamander.

 

In Colorado, the Summit Board of County Commissioners has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to exclude it from the proposed service area for a new wetland bank, citing elevation differences that would make inclusion inappropriate.

 

The US EPA says that a general permit for blueberry farming in regulated wetlands in Michigan violates section 404 of the Clean Water Act – meaning that mitigation requirements could come into play.

 

Biologists are raising eyebrows at Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent proposal that the state begin raising and releasing lesser prairie chickens – an idea first floated by energy companies looking for a way to avoid high mitigation fees for impacts to LPC habitat.

 

A lawsuit against a mitigation banker over his plans to convert rare freshwater wetlands in South Carolina to salt marsh habitat in order to sell bank credits has been dismissed, on the grounds that saltwater had already infiltrated the area.

 

A Diversion Authority in Cass County North Dakota has sticker stock from the $587,180 needed for mitigation of a ring dike projects – working out to $34,000 an acre.

 

CBD releases guidance on biodiversity safeguards for standards & certs

In June the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released guidance on improving biodiversity and ecosystem services safeguards in voluntary standards and certifications. The document, part of CBD’s Technical Series, was written in collaboration with the UN Environment Program’s World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It aims to introduce standard-setting organizations to key concepts like the mitigation hierarchy or a ‘landscape approach’, and outline best practice for safeguards.

Learn more and get a copy of the guidance.

Australia deliberates over land offsets

A recent review of Australia’s offsetting policy has led the Senate’s environmental committee to recommend offsets only be used as a ‘last resort.’ Industries, such as mining, use offsets when damage to natural lands from development can’t be avoided. Advocates argue the mechanism acts as an integral method to preserve valuable land. But the Gladstone Bund Review questioned the management of offsets and if regulators had the capacity to ensure they’re being done properly. The government will review the committee’s report and decide what further action to take.

Read more from the Gladstone Observer.

EIP takes on big project restoring Louisiana wetlands with mitigation banking

Louisiana has lost an area of wetlands equivalent to the size of Delaware in the last 80 years. And while all wetlands provide valuable services, Louisiana’s coastal areas protect against the powerful hurricanes that pass through year after year, making restoring these marshes crucial to the state’s economy and prosperity. The private equity firm Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP) aims to deliver some much-needed restoration work and generate a profit while doing it. So far, the company has purchased over 16,000 acres of swampland along Louisiana’s coast to develop mitigation bank credits. Mitigation banking is a commonly-used method for offsetting development impacts – but normally on a much smaller scale. EIP’s project is on a whole new level in terms of scope and of ambition.

The New York Times has the story.

New protocol will act as natcap accounting guide for businesses

A new development from the Natural Capital Coalition (NCC), a platform promoting natural capital accounting, will add to the resources available to help the private sector shift away from ‘business as usual’ scenarios and towards sustainable development. The NCC is establishing the Natural Capital Protocol (NCP). The Protocol will be developed by two consortia made up of academics, businesses, financial institutions and NGOs – one led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the other by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


The WBCSD will work to create one framework that includes the many methodologies existing today on the impacts and dependencies companies have on and with nature. The IUCN consortium will translate the Protocol into sector-specific guides – one for apparel and another for food and beverage. In addition, the IUCN will lead pilot testing of the Protocol among businesses.

Read a press release.

Asking more of offsets in Madagascar

Research recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management suggests that Rio Tinto’s offset methodology for mining impacts in Madagascar could be strengthened. In particular, additionality of the offset may have been weak in places: “In Madagascar, Rio Tinto did not take into account the fact that the potential deforestation its offsetting project aimed to avoid was partly inflicted by the company itself, through road-building, arrival of migrant workers, and other factors,” writes the study’s author Malika Virah-Sawmy in a summary article.

 

Virah-Sawmy does not suggest that there is no place for offsets in conservation planning, but rather that scientific basis and transparency need to keep improving. Additionality and leakage in particular are “poorly dealt with in existing biodiversity offset projects – and as a result, they are much less effective than they could be.”

Read more at Phys.org.

Better biodiversity conservation more costly – but needed, study says

Four years ago, the Center for Biological Diversity laid out new goals to prevent biodiversity loss that envisioned expanding the area of land protected in order to halt the extinction of species. But these new objectives are expensive and achieving them is proving difficult. A study released in the journal PLOS Biology found many protected areas are conserving land with little economic value and failing to protect the biodiversity on more valuable ground.

 

“Our study shows that existing protected areas are performing very poorly in terms of protecting the world’s most threatened species,” said Dr. Oscar Venter, lead author of the study. “This is concerning, as protected areas are meant to act as strongholds for vulnerable species, which clearly they are not.” And while Venter concedes making improvements to biodiversity conservation is expensive, he also says that small increases in cost can have a large impact on preservation.

Learn more.

Delivering environmental context for businesses with natural capital and ecosystem services

In order for businesses to properly measure their natural risks and prospects, Sissel Wage of BSR, the nonprofit based on business sustainability, says natural capital, ecosystem services and green development must continue to move into actual practice. Each can drive investments towards the natural infrastructure the private sector depends on to conduct business. And environmental measures without these functioning parts can lead to misguided actions and unintended consequences.

Read more at The Guardian.

Florida panther payments would give endangered species a little breathing room

A program proposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service would compensate Florida landowners for protecting panther habitat. The endangered Florida panther is not particularly popular with ranchers and landowners, but wildlife officials hope that incentives will do the trick. The program would pay landowners around $22 an acre to maintain habitats. “It’s really about buying us some time,” Kevin Godsea, manager for the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge tells The Guardian. “We are never going to be able to purchase all the land that we are going to need to recover the species.”

 

Get the full story.

How does media coverage of climate change affect biodiversity?

The topic of climate change gets the majority of media attention when it comes to environmental issues. But researchers at the University of Kent are urging that a growing public interest in climate should be used to leverage more support and action towards other important areas like biodiversity conservation. Kent released a study attempting to determine if climate change coverage has deflected attention away from biodiversity. Essentially, the study found biodiversity coverage -and funding from organizations like the World Bank – has remained consistent, while reporting and funding on climate change has accelerated.

 

 

Learn more.

EVENTS

 

Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration

CEER is a Collaborative Effort of the leaders of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). It will bring together ecological and ecosystem restoration scientists and practitioners to address challenges and share information about restoration projects, programs, and research from across North America. Across the continent, centuries of unsustainable activities have damaged the aquatic, marine, and terrestrial environments that underpin our economies and societies and give rise to a diversity of wildlife and plants. This conference supports SER and NCER efforts to reverse environmental degradation by renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats for the benefit of humans and nature. CEER is an interdisciplinary conference and brings together scientists, engineers, policy makers, restoration planners, partners, NGO’s and stakeholders from across the country actively involved in ecological and ecosystem restoration. 28 July – 1 August 2014. New Orleans, LA.

Learn more here.

16th Annual BIOECON Conference: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be held once again on the premises of Kings College Cambridge, England on the 22nd -23rd September 2014. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Learn more here.

ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

JOBS

 

Senior Manager, Climate and Biodiversity Finance Policy

Conservation International – Arlington VA, USA

The Sr. Manager for Climate and Biodiversity Finance Policy will work as part of the International Policy team and will be responsible for leading cross-institutional dialogue to develop and implement CI strategy to achieve climate and biodiversity financing policy outcomes. S/he will track all relevant financing negotiations, new and emerging financial mechanisms and funds to inform strategy, and convey relevant information back to CI staff engaged in these issues. The Sr. Manager will also be charged with developing partnerships and coalitions with like-minded organizations to develop and promote joint policy positions, provide policy advice to decision makers and support and collaborate with CI Field Programs to engage their governments on financing issues through the production of high-level policy briefs, presentations, tools and engagement in relevant on-the-ground initiatives. In addition, the Sr. Manager will lead the Biodiversity Policy team, which is responsible for developing CI’s institutional strategy, priorities and positions on the CBD, IPBES and related international fora. S/he will support regional and national programs in engaging their governments to influence these forums and achieve policy objectives.

Learn more here.

Communications Manager, Ecosystems

Environmental Defense Fund – Various locations, United States

EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.

Learn more here.

Sustainable Fisheries Initiative Program Assistant

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

EM Exclusives

Examples, dialogue, and clearer policy need in biodiversity offsetting

In early June, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in London at the To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond conference to discuss how to ensure that development is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in biodiversity. They explored international experience and policy on no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social fairness.

 

“There is a real genuine interest in the topic of no net loss of biodiversity now,” says BBOP Director, Kerry ten Kate. “People want to discuss it and share ideas and hear different perspectives from around the world.” Many useful lessons were shared throughout the two days and recommendations sprang from every session. However, a number of cross-cutting, key issues emerged as major themes – including strengthening protections, clarifying policy, and considering offsets only within the context of a mitigation hierarchy.

Keep reading.

How a primatologist, an industrialist, and an ecosystem entrepreneur took on big palm oil and won

When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she thought all was lost. Then she met ecosystem entrepreneur Todd Lemons and industrialist Rusmin Widjajam. Here’s how they blended cutting-edge finance and old-fashioned moxie to outmaneuver Big Palm Oil and save the forest.


We all use palm oil every day, and nearly half the world’s supply comes from Indonesia – with devastating results for the country’s forests, wildlife, and the global climate. Fixing it is no easy matter.

Keep reading.


Mitigation News

Comment period extended for proposed rule clarifying CWA jurisdiction

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it’s extending the public comment period on a proposed rule clarifying jurisdiction over waters of the United States, until October 21, 2014. The proposed rule, developed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, aims to provide a consistent definition of the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, after years of muddled interpretation and ad-hoc decision-making. The EPA says the extension is in response to the volume of comments already received and signs that the rule is not being interpreted as intended. “There’s a lot of concern among agricultural interests in their states and what the industry has read into it,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters. “We need some time to get out there and, if need be, write the rule in a way so the intent is understood.”

Read the public notice.
Learn more about the proposed rule.

Study finds unequal balance between carbon stocks and species richness

While the primary objective of the market mechanism REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) is to reduce carbon emissions coming from forest loss, preserving vital habitat for wildlife was thought to be a valuable byproduct. However a new study found that forests rich in carbon that are being conserved through REDD+ don’t necessarily contain the same richness in wildlife. The mechanism may even propel species toward extinction. Research for the study took place in Antioquia, Colombia where researchers found deforestation activities simply moved from the fuller forests to the more sparse areas where a higher number of endemic species live. The study does note the overall success of REDD+ in reducing emissions and deforestation, but encourages a more comprehensive approach when selectin

Additional resources

Busy Week For UN REDD Programme Policy Board And Forest Carbon Partnership Facility As Jurisdictional Efforts Ramp Up

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

16 July 2014 | Ecosystem Marketplace’s third installment of our Palm Oil vs The Peatland Forest series is now live. In it, we meet Todd Lemons, an ‘ecosystem entrepreneur’ who, as a 20-something, found himself in the Bolivian rainforest sourcing hardwoods for major American furniture dealers. After finding beautiful pieces of mahogany in the scrap pile, Lemons implemented a “cut-to-size” program that required less wood for more furniture and developed an obsession with using sensible economics to address environmental challenges.

Years later, in 2007, he found himself in Borneo driving through a patchwork of palm-oil plantations and second-growth native forests on his way to Tanjung Puting National Park, a massive lowland peat swamp that has been amassing carbon for 10,000 years. Lemons didn’t know it at the time, but the trip was the first step in developing the Rimba Raya REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) project that would hold off the encroaching palm oil developers and prevent the annual release of more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“We know now that peatland has about eight times as much carbon per hectare as a typical rainforest of the Amazon,” says Heru Prasetyo, the head of Indonesia’s REDD Task Force. “Back in 2007, no one really knew.”

As Steve Zwick reports, though, REDD didn’t create an “incentive” to save the forests. A typical palm-oil plantation generates $1,000 per hectare in pure profit – more than twenty-fold the income that could be generated from the sale of offsets. So REDD will not sway those responding to purely economic incentives, but it does create a financing mechanism that may make it possible for people who want to save forests to do so. The Rimba Raya project has sold five million tonnes of offsets since 2010 and verified another five million tonnes of emissions reductions, more than four million of which remain unsold.

The full series of stories will be available here.

And for the fifth year running, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace is collecting data about forest carbon projects around the world to include in our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report. This is the only market-wide, freely available research tracking performance-based payments for emissions reductions in forests, and we rely on a global survey to ensure that our data is representative.

Help us spread the word!

Our survey for forest carbon project developers is available in English HERE (http://survey.ecosystemmarketplace.com/forestcarbon2014/) and in Spanish HERE http://survey.ecosystemmarketplace.com/es_forestcarbon2014/)

Responding to the survey is also the best way to get your project information updated on the Forest Carbon Portal, a hub of information for potential investors, researchers, and other market participants. We’re building a community there, and if you haven’t already, we’d love for you to join us. Once you do, your profile will appear in our Member Directory, and you will be able to post projects, jobs, and events on the Portal.

What else? Do you want to be able to message other members? Start discussions? Announce new project developments? Well, that’s up to you. Send us a note and let us know what you’d like the Forest Carbon Portal membership community to be/do, and we’ll try to make it happen.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

 

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.


News

INTERNATIONAL POLICY

Chile, Vietnam forests get the nod

The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund accepted Chile and Vietnam into its pipeline last month, allocating up to $650,000 for each country to develop a full proposal for implementing national REDD+. The Republic of the Congo and Peru also presented Program Idea Notes; the Republic of the Congo’s was provisionally accepted while Peru was asked to make deeper revisions. Cambodia, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia and Madagascar also presented early ideas for national REDD+ programs, and the FCPF offered feedback, from clarifying land concessions in Cambodia to explaining how current REDD+ projects will fit into a nested national program in Guatemala.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Dazed and confused

Laos would have started selling carbon offsets last year, but its REDD readiness process has been stalled because “officials from state agencies in charge of the work do not understand what they were supposed to do,” said Khamphay Manivong, the country’s deputy director general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Forest Department. Laos has plans to protect 9.5 million hectares of forests and restore forest cover to 65% of the country by 2015. The FCPF has committed up to $3.6 million to Laos’ program.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

O little watershed of Bethlehem

The Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney, which will purchase forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The four-year contract with the entertainment giant will replace a previous agreement with automaker Chevrolet. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest. For Disney – long a lover of forestry projects as this Ecosystem Marketplace story noted – buying offsets from this project helps the company meet its environmental goals such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2013 (a goal it achieved).

FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

REDD scores another goal

The 20 members of the United Nations (UN) REDD Programme Policy Board last week approved $35.5 million in readiness funding, including allocations to the national programs of Argentina, Cote d’Ivoire and Mongolia in the amounts of $3.8 million, $3.2 million, and $4.0 million, respectively. Argentina’s program will address soy production as one of the major drivers of deforestation, Cote d’Ivoire’s will consider land competition for the cocoa, timber and rubber industries, and Mongolia’s is the first funded national REDD program for boreal forest. Meanwhile, the UN’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice met and discussed the importance of the non-carbon benefits of REDD, but punted on deciding how (and whether) to incentivize those benefits.

HUMAN DIMENSION

Ebola caused by deforestation?

An ongoing Ebola outbreak, which as of July 1 has claimed 467 lives in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, may be linked to deforestation, scientists say. As habitat is destroyed, chimpanzees, gorillas and bats that may carry the disease have more frequent contact with humans. “The increase in Ebola outbreaks since 1994 is frequently associated with drastic changes in forest ecosystems in tropical Africa,” according to a 2012 study in the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research. Other researchers, however, reject the neat “outbreak narrative,” claiming there are additional factors at play.

A picture’s worth a thousand trees

Photographer and Brazilian native Rodrigo Baleia spent a dozen years flying 218,000 miles back and forth across the Amazon rainforest, photographing its destruction at the hands of cattle ranchers, loggers and developers. “I live this torment,” he says, “because I’m not sure if my work was good or strong enough to make an effective change in people’s lives.” He also observes that “the deforestation areas are smaller than they used to be.” His photographs can be viewed in The Wall Street Journal.

Colombia: Post-conflict, post-deforestation?

Aureliano Cí³rdoba, a leader of an Afro-Colombian community living along the Tolo River, fled to Panama during the Colombian civil war and returned in 2001 to find that cattle ranching posed a continuing threat to his village’s forests – its only source of fresh water. Three years ago, his community decided not to log its 32,000 acres of rainforest, and began working with Brodie Ferguson, now founder of carbon project developer Anthrotect, to draft a proposal for a REDD project. Last year, the community sold 70,000 carbon offsets at about $9 per tonne (tCO2e) – more than twice the $4.2/tCO2e average price for REDD offsets, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report. Colombian oil services firm Independence bought 20,000 offsets from the project.

PUBLICATIONS

The 54-million-tonne loophole

Forest degradation in the Amazon may be releasing 54 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year – up to 40% of the emissions from deforestation, according to a study published in Global Change Biology. The impacts of degradation, including selective timber extraction, burning and fragmentation are difficult to detect using satellite data alone, so the study paired satellite imagery with field study.

Japan breaking the rules of the forests

Japan, the fourth largest consumer of wood products globally, is unfortunately getting much of its supply from illegally sourced timber. San Xia Economic and Trade Company, one of the largest importers of illicitly cut Russian pine and ash, is selling 90% of its finished products to Japan, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “Importing cheap illegal wood from eastern Russia is a tragic crime of convenience that directly undercuts Japanese business trying to play by the rules,” said Kate Horner, Director of Forest Campaigns at EIA.

REDD could fly high

Emissions from aviation are expected to quadruple by 2050, and technology improvement and efficiency gains won’t compensate for the increasing number of flights. If offsets are used to ‘cap’ net emissions from the aviation industry, demand could reach hundreds of millions of tonnes in 2030, according to a recent analysis by climate and energy consultant Adam Whitmore. REDD offsets are potentially positioned to fill this level of volume. The International Civil Aviation Organization last year agreed to look at using market-based mechanisms to cap net international aviation emissions at 2020 levels.

JOBS

Sector Leader REDD+ – SNV Netherlands Development Organization

Based in Vientiane, Laos, the Sector Leader REDD+ will be responsible for steering SNV’s REDD+ programs in Laos, working in close collaboration with the management team and other sector leaders. The position requires five years of relevant experience in program or project management, strong knowledge and experience in REDD+ approaches and concepts, and experience in forestry inventory and land use planning in Southeast Asia. Knowledge of Geographical Information Systems and an entrepreneurial attitude are desirable.

Read more about the position here

Communication Consultant – The Forests Dialogue

Based in New Haven, Connecticut, the Communication Consultant will develop and execute communications strategies in alignment with The Forests Dialogue’s strategic plan and goal of reducing conflict among stakeholders over the use and protection of vital forest resources. The position requires building clear and consistent programmatic messaging, drafting press releases and media advisories, and engaging key audiences on social media. The consultant is expected to travel internationally regularly and will work an average of 20 hours per week.

Read more about the position here

UN-REDD MRV Forestry Officer for the Congo Basin Region – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Forestry Officer will provide technical and policy expertise to support the implementation of the FAO’s Strategic Objectives in the Congo Basin. The position requires helping countries to access UN-REDD support and providing guidance on monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) frameworks. The ideal candidate will have an advanced degree, seven years of relevant experience in the field of forest resources monitoring and assessment or forest management, and working knowledge of English and French (with some knowledge of Spanish).

Read more about the position here

Research Assistant, Carbon Monitoring, Land Use and Social Forestry – Woods Hole Research Center

Based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the Research Assistant will work with Project Equateur, a pilot REDD+ project in Equateur Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The position requires working on community-level REDD+ carbon monitoring and land use planning research, development, and capacity building activities, and spending lengthy periods in Mbandaka, Equateur Province. The successful candidate with have an advanced degree, at least two years of international work experience in forestry, and excellent command of written and spoken French.

Read more about the position here

Illegal Logging Lawyer – ClientEarth

Based in London, United Kingdom, the Illegal Logging Lawyer will work on strengthening the implementation and enforcement of the European Union (EU) Timber Regulation, which seeks to prevent illegally logged timber from entering the EU market. The position is for a lawyer with outstanding legal, analytical and strategic skills and will require building and maintaining relationships with key partners in the EU and internationally, as well as representing ClientEarth’s work to external audiences.

Read more about the position here

See more jobs on the Forest Carbon Portal jobs page

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.

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.

 


Click here to read this article in its original format.

The Third Way? Explaining Japan’s New Standard

 

14 July 2014 | At year-end climate talks in Warsaw last year, Japan announced it had abandoned its ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels, and would instead aim to just keep its emissions from rising more than 3 percent above that year’s levels. It’s a change driven largely by the country’s decision to shutter its nuclear power plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster  – a move that will lead to an increase in the use of fossil fuels.

Yet in the midst of weakening compliance goals, the government announced a new streamlined voluntary standard: the J-Credit System, which stems from the Domestic Credit System and the J-VER (Japan’s verified emissions reduction) System.

The Overseas Environmental Cooperation Center (OECC) has historically supported the J-VER program, and researcher Noriko Hase explains the new implications of the J-Credit scheme during a conversation with Ecosystem Marketplace’s Kelley Hamrick.

KH: Can you describe the recent changes to J-VER and J-CDM?

NH: We used to have two schemes for GHG reduction crediting. One is the Domestic Credit Scheme (or Japan’s Domestic CDM) originally developed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the other is the J-VER Scheme originally developed by the Ministry of Environment (MOE). The two schemes were merged into one new scheme and it started in April 2013.

After one year, now there are about 60 projects for the new J-Credit Scheme. The certified credits listed in the J-Credit official site amount to only 30,000 tonnes from 11 projects. In addition to the new projects, there are some projects transferred from the old schemes. From Domestic CDM, 142projects have been transferred to J-Credit. For the J-VER, 59 projects have been transferred. It’s 9.3% of Domestic CDM projects and 23.6 % of J-VER projects.

KH: What is the process to make the switch to the J-Credit Scheme?

NH: What a project developer needs to do is to submit a paper saying that we want to transfer the project. It is very simple procedure. But a small number of projects have been transferred so far. One of the reasons might be lack of demand for credits.

With low demand for credits, there is no strong incentive for project developers to have new credits. At the last COP in Warsaw, Japanese government set the new emissions reduction target, 3.8% below 2005 levels. Although this target is tentative and has not yet taken into account the emission reduction effect resulting from nuclear power, the low figure might have some impact on demand for credits.

KH: So why  did Japanese central government create J-Credits?

NH: Now, the J-Credits can be used for voluntary carbon offsetting or CSR, and for the other policy actions such as the voluntary emission reduction target set by the Nippon Keidanren or Japan Federation of Economic Organizations. Keidanren sets the emission reduction target by 2020 in the KEIDANREN’s commitment to a Low Carbon Society. It is called a semi-compliance target as the Keidanren, the biggest business federation, has a lot of impact on Japanese policies.

The other way to use those credits is for a mandatory GHG reporting system under Japanese law. A company can report two emissions: one is real emissions and the other is the emissions after compensation by those credits.

Also the credits (except for sink credits) are used for the joint energy conservation projects under the Energy Conservation law.

KH: What’s the difference between Domestic-CDM and J-VER?

NH: The Domestic-CDM credits could be used for the Keidanren’s emissions reduction target, the joint energy conservation projects under the Energy Conservation law, and for the mandatory GHG reporting. J-VER credits could be used for carbon offsetting certification scheme by MOE, and the mandatory GHG reporting. The other difference is methodology. Only J-VER had the forest sink methodologies.

KH: Do you think demand will change?

NH: The 3.8% reduction target is based on a zero nuclear power generation scenario. It’s up to us and the Japanese government whether to use the nuclear power again or not. Depending on our decision about an energy mix, the emissions reduction target might be changed in the future. Although the J-Credits are not directly used for the international GHG reduction commitment, it will consequently change demand of a carbon market.

KH: Are there any preferences for certain project types?

NH: It’s not the numbers from demand side, but from supply side, 70% of J-VER credits have been issued from the forestry sector. A forest project credit is quite popular for companies. But at the same time, a forestry credit is a little bit expensive than an energy credit. It could happen for companies to buy 70 % of credits from energy projects and 30% from forestry projects. But for their advertisement they may appeal the forestry credits.

Although a price of forest credit is more expensive, if a company needs only small amount of credits for voluntary carbon offsetting, such as one or two t-CO2, it is not an obstacle for company to buy it.

 

Todd Lemons: Ecosystem Entrepreneur

Third in a series.

7 July 2014 | Todd Lemons spent 15 years working in sustainable forestry before he ever set foot on Borneo, and he thought he knew what a healthy forest looked like. So when he passed through a patchwork of palm-oil plantations and second-growth native forests on his way to Tanjung Puting National Park, his heart sank.

“Quite frankly, compared to sustainably-logged [secondary] forests I had gotten used to in the Amazon Basin, this one looked scraggly,” he says – and scraggly could ruin everything, because his plan to save the Seruyan Forest hinged on it being full of carbon, which to him meant plump, tall or both. If the Seruyan itself looked anything like the forest he was driving through, he thought, this whole trip is for naught.

 Todd Lemons and an orphaned infant

Todd Lemons and an orphaned infant

The year was 2007, and the world still seemed intent on forging a global solution to climate change by the end of 2009. The global economic crisis hadn’t yet pushed climate change off the front pages, and major media outlets had “discovered” that deforestation generated at least 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions – and possibly more. For Lemons, there was something else happening, too: his daughter had gone off to 1st grade, and his son had just started kindergarten.

“Your mindset changes when your kids reach that age,” he says. “Your focus shifts from worrying about their immediate survival to worrying about their future in a visceral way, and I didn’t like the world I was seeing in their future.”

It was the latest epiphany in a life of many twists and turns that began with romantic notions of the Amazon Rainforest, fed by Lemons’ grandfather’s tales of his own adventures in Guyana and nourished on a steady diet of National Geographic magazine. It was in National Geographic that he first learned of the woman he was on his way to meet: Birute Galdikas, who had been rescuing orphaned orangutans on the island since the early 1970s.

Lemons graduated from college a few years after reading about Galdikas, and then in the early 1980s he followed in his grandfather’s footsteps – first to Guyana, then to Chile and eventually to Brazil and Bolivia, where he got a job sourcing hardwoods for major American furniture dealers.

“It all started off great, and it was very exciting for a young twenty-something-year-old,” he says. “But then I had to go and look at was happening behind the scenes – at the sawmills.”

 Todd Lemons walks through a freshly-destroyed patch of forest

Todd Lemons walks through a freshly-destroyed patch of forest.

He likens the experience to that of a committed meat-eater who wanders into an unregulated slaughterhouse.

“At that moment, it’s no longer as simple as just a piece of steak or a simple wooden coffee table,” he says. “There’s a cost and a consequence behind your consumption that we have to face.”

He became incensed – not just at the environmental destruction, but at the pointlessness of it all.

“The primary mandate from the customer was to buy the widest, longest piece of mahogany you can find, because then we can be lazy [when it comes to forming the wood on-site],” he says. “So here I am sourcing this, and I’m looking at scrap piles bigger than the piles we’re shipping, and that’s putting an unnecessary burden on the environment, because a lot of this is going into a chair leg that’s no more than a foot and a half long.”

He implemented a “cut-to-size” program, which involved whittling the trees into smaller pieces designed to fit specific units of furniture before shipping the wood. As a result, he slashed the volume of trees that were destroyed but increased the volume of semi-finished products – and developed a lifelong obsession with finding economically viable solutions to environmental challenges.

Taking a Pass on Forest Carbon

In 2003, Lemons found himself managing a million-acre plantation forest in China as the world was gearing up for the 2005 implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, in which nearly 40 developed countries agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions, and to help developing countries do the same. The Protocol, he learned, made it possible for companies that emit greenhouse gasses to reduce their carbon footprints by purchasing carbon offsets that reduce emissions elsewhere. It also made it possible for companies to generate carbon offsets by planting new trees (“afforestation”) or reestablishing lost forest (“reforestation”). His bosses asked him to find out if they could use carbon offsets to finance the expansion of their plantation.

“I looked into it, but economically, it would have been like a slow drip,” he says. “The money they could earn from carbon was just a rounding error compared to the money they were making by harvesting the forest.”

Plus, he adds, it just didn’t feel right.

 Birute Galdikas, Siswei, and Todd Lemons share a meal.

Birute Galdikas, Siswei and Todd Lemons share a meal.

“Morally, it was like a double dip,” he says. “We were going to plant the plantation forest anyway, and it didn’t seem right to get a credit for something that we’re already going to do.”

That, he later learned was a concept known as additionality: carbon markets don’t pay for business as usual. To earn carbon offsets, a developer has to prove that the finance for carbon reduction makes the reduction possible. For Lemons, “additionality” meant that even if the payments were higher, his company wouldn’t have qualified.

“I told my bosses that carbon credits weren’t worth their time, but the idea kept nagging me,” he says. “I loved the idea of a market mechanism that would pay for conservation, but I didn’t think of a plantation as conservation.”

Then he learned of a practice called avoided deforestation, which grew out of new thinking in the late 1980s among innovative organizations like Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and Brazilian NGO SPVS. The idea was to generate carbon offsets by saving endangered rainforest rather than by planting new trees.

“That resonated with me,” he says. “If you could earn money by protecting a virgin forest – that’s cool.”

It might have been cool with him, but it wasn’t cool with some of the more traditional environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. As the Kyoto Protocol took shape in the 1990s, they made sure avoided deforestation wasn’t part of it.

Simply REDD

But avoided deforestation didn’t die. Companies continued to use it voluntarily to offset their emissions, and rainforest nations continued to push for its inclusion in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). By the time Lemons came to Borneo in 2007, Papua New Guinea had managed to get avoided deforestation back on the UN agenda, but now it was called REDD, for “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.”

The concept was deceptively simple: find a patch of forest that’s about to be destroyed, measure the carbon content of that forest, save the forest, and earn credit for the carbon that you keep locked in trees.

In practice, it was much more complicated than that. First, you had to prove that the forest you were saving really was endangered. Then you had to prove that your actions saved it, and finally you had to prove that the forest you saved didn’t result in another patch of forest being destroyed elsewhere.

The Seruyan Forest he was traveling to was definitely endangered: palm oil company PT Best had a concession to develop it, and the company had already developed 10,000 hectares. He hoped that Birute Galdikas could help him identify a way to save it.

The bigger challenge was to make it work financially, but the biggest challenges of all came from two sources. One, as expected, was PT Best, which would use its economic and political muscle to try to block the project any way it could. The other chalenge came from a source he hadn’t anticipated: old-school environmentalists who seemed to hate REDD almost as much as PT Best did.

A Labor of Love

On the economic front, Lemons found that-despite all the talk to the contrary, REDD wasn’t a lucrative endeavor, and it probably never would be – especially compared to Palm Oil.

At the time, most of the REDD research was focused on the Amazon, so he used the well-researched Brazilian forests as a model. He knew that a forest there held an average of about 200 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare. That translates into 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide kept out of the air over the 30-year lifespan of a forest-carbon project. At $7 per tonne of carbon dioxide, that’s $46 per hectare per year – and that’s just income. He had no idea what it would cost to measure, monitor, and protect the forest, which meant he couldn’t even begin to calculate the profit.

The calculus on palm oil plantations was, by comparison, incredibly straightforward: a typical plantation generated $1,000 per hectare per year in pure profit once it was up and running, and if the original forest had enough timber, the palm-oil plantation might even turn a profit on the conversion.

While the prices of carbon offsets and palm oil both fluctuated, carbon prices weren’t going to increase twenty-fold, and it was clear that it would be more lucrative to destroy a forest than to save it – a fact lost on many of the organizations involved in the REDD debate.

REDD Misunderstood

Proponents tended to talk of REDD as an “incentive” to save forests, while critics talked of it as some diabolical scheme hatched by the remnants of Enron to commoditize forests. Proponents, in other words, talked of a green utopia, while opponents talked of “carbon cowboys” and “land grabs.” Both sides were wrong.

REDD didn’t create an incentive to save forests, because anyone who responded to purely economic incentives would opt for palm oil. What REDD did create was a financing mechanism that might make it possible for people who wanted to save the forest to do so.

“It will always be easier to chop a forest than to manage it,” says Brazilian indigenous leader Almir Surui, who also incurred pushback from old-school environmental groups when he developed the first indigenous-led REDD project. “That’s what no one seems to get: REDD is hard work, and it’s not something you do if all you want to do is make money.”

To make matters worse, the land-grab that REDD opponents worried about had already happened, but the grabbers weren’t “carbon cowboys.” They were palm-oil developers like PT Best, which was in the process of devouring the Seruyan Forest. The grabbers in turn sold their palm oil to companies like Bunge, Cargill, and Unilever, who put it into foods that the rest of us bought and ate.

“In the end, we’re all complicit, because we all eat this stuff,” says Lemons, munching a granola bar that he purchased at Whole Foods on a recent trip to the United States. “The only difference between you and I and most people out there is that we got to know firsthand where it comes from.”

One Tool Among Many

To stifle climate change, he says, we have to change global buying patterns, but REDD is more of a supply-side solution, analogous to the cut-to-order procedures he implemented in Latin America. It’s one tool in a very big box that includes organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which aims to promote sustainable sourcing of palm oil, and even old-school environmentalists to put pressure on those companies that need some prodding.

Lemons says those tools all fit together: by putting a price on degradation, he says, REDD will eventually help consumers understand the true cost of their purchases. On a more immediate level in the short term, REDD can be used to leverage more efficient land-use practices among producers – by shifting production from forested lands to degraded lands, for example, as the Indonesian government advocates.

There’s something else, too, and for Lemons, it was critical: REDD, he says, unites economy and ecology by turning conservation into a business, while old-school environmentalists embraced a false dichotomy between growth and conservation.

“REDD is part of a global paradigm shift that traditional environmentalism is missing,” he says. “Opposition-based environmentalism has its place, and so does philanthropy, but neither can hold a candle to what the global economy can achieve. We just have to get that economy properly aligned.”

But for REDD to work as a business, Lemons would have to show that the returns – while nowhere near as lucrative as a ravenous sector like palm oil – were still worth pursuing. Then he’d have to attract investors, and the only way that would work was if the forests stored enough carbon to make the returns worthwhile.

As Lemons looked out at the scraggly trees zipping past his car window on his way to Seruyan Forest, he knew there wasn’t enough carbon in them to fund a kindergarten – let alone take on a palm-oil company looking at a $150-million-per-year business. He also knew that any hope lay not in the trees, but in the soil.

The Power of Peat

That’s because the Tanjung Puting National Park is a massive lowland swamp with trees in it, and those trees have been dropping leaves into water for 10,000 years. Those leaves have coalesced into a half-decayed loam of organic matter up to ten meters deep.

 Birute Galdikas with two orphaned orangutans.

Birute Galdikas with two orphaned orangutans.

Environmentally, the park and the Seruyan Forest that PT Best was converting to a palm-oil plantation are massive bins of carbon that extend to the mangroves along the Java Sea. As companies like PT Best destroyed the forest to make way for their plantations, they were releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s what made Indonesia the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, behind the United States and China. It’s why Lemons needed to save the Seruyan Forest.

But for that to work, he had to know how much carbon was in those peat swamps and how much would be released if PT Best continued destroying them. That was a question no one had answered because no one had written the calculus for it.

“We now know that peatland has about eight times as much carbon per hectare as a typical rainforest of the Amazon,” says Heru Prasetyo, the head of Indonesia’s REDD Task Force. “Back in 2007, no one really knew.”

Lemons certainly didn’t know that as he climbed out of the taxi at Galdikas’ orangutan care center, but he sensed that she could somehow help him find the answers. Unfortunately, he’d neglected to tell her that he was coming.

Next Week: Wrestling with orangutans: The genesis of the Rimba-Raya REDD project.

 

Climate Bridge: Bridging The Gap Between Carbon Markets

China is home to seven emissions trading programs, and that’s forced local companies to contend with emission caps. Opportunities abound for local project developers — yet they may have to wait a while longer for the compliance markets to fully come into effect. Here’s what they can do now, says Climate Bridge’s Senior Project Manager, Wenjie Zhuang.  

2 July 2014 | Policy makers and project developers alike have intensely followed the progress of China’s first pilot emissions trading schemes (ETS) ever since they launched last year.  The schemes could have a direct impact on existing offset projects, as some  voluntary and most compliance projects have the opportunity to convert their offsets into  Chinese certified emissions reductions (CCERs).

However, the current lack of liquidity and other regulatory hurdles  means that most are taking a wait-and-see approach.  Climate Bridge’s Senior Project Manager, Wenjie Zhuang explains how  project developers can  capitalize on the pilot projects in indirect ways.  Climate Bridge has worked with both compliance and voluntary markets since 2005, and currently holds a portfolio with more than 180 emissions reductions projects.

Kelley Harmick: What does Climate Bridge look for in Chinese projects?

Wenjie Zhuang: We actually do not have specific requirements on the types and locations – but we pay great attention to the social benefits and environmental benefits. We are very interested in those Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Gold Standard (GS) projects that have great benefits to local environment, community and biodiversity. We also have Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) projects in our portfolio which requires us to conduct a detailed evaluation on the impact on community and biodiversity. Our clients wish that the carbon credits they buy come from projects that can bring more social and environmental benefits to the local region.

KH: How have the pilot trading schemes affected the voluntary market?

WZ: I think the pilot schemes in China have actually promoted the voluntary market. Previously, not many people in China were familiar with carbon markets. But now, because of the pilot schemes, a lot of people are talking about the market. You can see the updates of the pilot trading schemes on the press very often. More and more people are caring about carbon reduction and want to study the market. Most capped enterprises in the pilot regions have started to establish a specialized team to work on carbon trading and emission reduction projects.

Previously, most of our clients came from the U.S. and European countries, and a lot of experts from developed countries researched on methodologies and guidelines of the standards. Project developers in China used to only adopt methodologies developed by those experts in developed countries. But now more and more Chinese experts do research on the methodologies. Yesterday, I received a new methodology developed by Chinese experts on grasslands, with VCS as a standard. So I think it’s really an improvement.

KH: I’ve heard voluntary projects in China can switch to CCERs. Do you think many projects will do that?

WZ: Projects that have registered as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects but not issued can switch to CCER projects. These are CDM projects but not voluntary projects such as VCS and GS projects. If you are wondering whether CCER market will have an impact on VER market, I think the impact is small. One reason is that the buyers of CCERs and VERs have different purposes. Another reason is that there are some important differences between them. The categories of VCS/GS projects and CCERs don’t totally overlap. VCS projects emphasize social impact, while CCER projects have more requirements on location and categories. According to the policy, some pilot trading schemes in China only accept CCER projects developed in their regions, and some of them do not accept certain types of emission reduction projects.

From project developers’ point of view, they adopt standards based on the project implementation cycle and market price of credits. This depends on future CCER market development.

KH: Where does demand come from?

WZ: Our companies’ clients are primarily international. But there is increasing domestic demand – some conferences, workshops and concerts in China want to be carbon neutral and they buy some carbon credits to offset their emissions.

I think that more and more Chinese companies are interested in the co-benefits but they are not so sure what they really are. So, we provide them with relevant training like a workshop or offer professional consulting services. After this, these companies will understand what kind of benefits that emission reductions can bring to them, and then emission reduction project implementation or carbon credits trading will follow up to fulfill their specific requirement. Also, in China, corporate social responsibility is calling for great attention now. Emission reduction and environmental protection are  important parts of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

KH: It’s interesting that Chinese buyers are also interested in co-benefits. It’s a trend we’ve been seeing a lot in North America and Europe.

WZ: This is a trend also taking place in China, but enterprises and individuals need more training at the current stage. You need to tell the credit buyers what they [offsets] are and what benefits they can get from buying credits and reducing the emissions. At the current stage, many Chinese enterprises are interested in these co-benefits, but they don’t quite understand the procedure and long-term benefits. So some of them only do a one-time voluntary offset.

We will tell the buyers the specific benefits that the projects bring to local community and environment, not just sell them the credits. We interview local people and shoot small videos for our clients. Sometimes our clients join us to do on-site visits. That’s quite beneficial and interesting to the buyers. Carbon reduction is comparatively abstract, but with onsite visits clients can talk to project owners to understand the emission reduction procedure better.

KH: How much do Chinese consumers care about environmentally-friendly products?

WZ: Chinese people really care about the environment at the current moment. Our government makes a lot of efforts in ensuring effective implementation of environmental policies on problems like air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. At current stage, not all the people are familiar with carbon emission reduction, but if you connect the air pollution with carbon market, people can understand this issue better. I believe more enterprises and individuals will be involved in the carbon market in the future as the market expands and becomes mature.

People would like to learn more about environmentally-friendly products– especially in the city  like Shanghai, where people are more wealthy and more educated. For example, people are more willing to buy local food and energy-saving products now. And green buildings and electric automobiles are also hot topics in China.

How A Primatologist, An Industrialist, And An Ecosystem Entrepreneur Took On Big Palm Oil And Won

This article is second in a series.

 

23 June 2014 | Pak Ahmed has a little game he used to play, sometimes by himself, and sometimes with friends.

He’d begin just after the sun woke the sky above his village of Telaga Pulang, which stands on stilts along the eastern bank of Borneo’s Seruyan River. He’d continue as he rolled his first cigarette of the day and traversed the wooden bridge to the boardwalk that serves as the village’s spine. Then he’d climb into his hand-hewn  klotok,  fire its engine, and klatok-tok-tokk out into the broad, dead river – where he knew the game would end, and not the way he hoped.

 High tide in Telaga Pulang

High tide in Telaga Pulang

Soon, children would be clattering along the elevated structure in their school uniforms, and their mothers would gather outside the two shacks that serve as general stores, each stocked with soaps, salves, and other sundries derived from the product that was slowly enslaving them.

“Before Palm Oil came, we fished from about 6am to noon, and then relaxed,” he says. “Sometimes, we hunted in the woods in the afternoon.”

Like most of the people of Telaga Pulang, he speaks of the product as if it were a sentient entity devouring the forest. For them, Palm Oil isn’t just a fatty acid used in toothpaste and cereal. It’s a proper noun encompassing the product, the plantations, the imported workers, and the dead river.

Palm Oil, he explains, came to this part of Borneo in 2005, when workers carved shallow drainage canals into the soft peat soil on the western bank of the river, across from Telaga Pulang. Then they strategically removed teak and other choice timbers before grinding 10,000 hectares of forest into pulp, murdering any orangutans who got in their way and kidnapping the now-homeless sun bears, clouded leopards and gibbon apes, which they sold as exotic pets.

 Pak Ahmed (center) and other fishermen discuss the impact that Palm Oil has had on their livelihood

Pak Ahmed (center) and other fishermen discuss the impact that Palm Oil has had on their livelihood

After dispatching the forest and its inhabitants, the workers inserted palm saplings as far as Pak Ahmed could see. Then they fertilized the saplings, and the fertilizer dribbled down the canals and into the river, where it fed massive algae blooms that killed the fish and destroyed the economy of his village. Mines came, too, and their poisons killed more fish, so upstream fishermen began dropping explosives instead of nets, depleting the stocks even further.

Yet, as he pulled his bamboo cage up out of the water on this day in 2007, Pak Ahmed still indulged that little tingle of hope that kept him coming back day after day, week after week – for months after the rest of his family and most of his neighbors had gone to work for Palm Oil. That tingle was to him what the unturned card was to the blackjack addict, and it was the only prize his game ever yielded anymore, because the game was this: as he awakened and rowed and worked, Pak Ahmed tried to pretend that he didn’t know what he’d find when he pulled his bamboo traps up from those dead waters.

Before the mud parted and the cage emerged into the light, he could still imagine it was 2005 instead of 2007.

 An unidentified fisherman in Pak Ahmed's village puts the finishing touches on a new trap.

An unidentified fisherman in Pak Ahmed’s village puts the finishing touches on a new trap.

But eventually the  cage did emerge, and in it Pak Ahmed saw what he knew he’d see: dozens of baby “fingerlings” flopping desperately in a basket designed for one or two fat adults 100 times their size. In terms of saleable product, his hauls were down 90%, and it was about to get worse.

A company called PT Best had laid claim to the entire Seruyan Forest, which is a massive natural filtration system that regulates water flows and provides non-timber forest products like honey, wax, and wild rubber for hundreds of other villagers. It also acts as a protective buffer to a quarter-million hectares of peat forest in the Tanjung Puting National park, which means its destruction would affect the rest of us, too.

That’s because peat is a thick, rich loam of decaying plants that have been accumulating for thousands of years, locking up carbon in the process. If the peatland went, it would release hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

 Canals drain the peat and push fertilizer into the river.

Canals drain the peat and push fertilizer into the river .

Eight thousand miles to the west, Biruté Galdikas was engaged in her own variation of the game as she frantically zipped between appointments in Los Angeles, where she’d gone in a futile effort to raise the money she needed to save Pak Ahmed’s forest.

Like the Seruyan River, the City of Angels had been a fertile fishing ground. It served as Galdikas’s fundraising hub and helped her build Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) into a bulwark against the slaughter of orangutans in the Tanjung Puting.

Unlike the Seruyan, however, Los Angeles hadn’t stopped delivering. It had simply been eclipsed by Palm Oil, which generates roughly $1 million in profit per year for every thousand hectares harvested. That’s  more than OFI’s entire operating budget, and PT Best had a license to convert 150,000 hectares of forest to palm-oil plantation. Each of those hectares would become another cog in a cash machine that Galdikas knew she could never match. Yet, like Pak Ahmed, she kept going back to the source that had served her so well, day after day, week after week, month after month.

 Birute Galdikas and friend

Birute Galdikas and friend.

That’s what she was doing when her phone rang.

“I remember it clearly,” she says. “This man says he’s calling from Shanghai, China, and he won’t stop talking, won’t let me get a word in edgewise, and then he asks me – and I’ll never forget this – he asks me if there’s a forest that needs to be saved.”

The man’s name was Todd Lemons, a serial entrepreneur from the United States who’d grown up listening to his grandfather’s tales of his adventures in the Amazon and reading National Geographic. It was on the magazine’s October, 1975 cover that he first encountered Galdikas. Although less than 30 years old when the photo was taken, she was already a rock star in the world of primatology, and she looked the part. Strikingly attractive, her gaze was brooding and world-weary and motherly all at once. A baby orangutan clung to her neck, and an adolescent lolled playfully in front of her. Both were orphans, and both had suffered the trauma of seeing their mothers murdered before their eyes.

 Birute Galdikas with two orphaned orangutans.

Birute Galdikas with two orphaned orangutans.

She was one of three researchers known then as the “Trimates”, the others being Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. The name came from their mentor, Louis Leakey, who had helped Galdikas launch the operation that would become OFI. Over the decades, she had rescued and rehabilitated thousands of orphaned orangutans, and in 2001 she asked for permission to expand into the Seruyan Forest.

Her application, however, disappeared into the local bureaucracy, and a few years later she learned that PT Best, working through subsidiaries, had gotten concessions to convert the entire forest into a palm-oil plantation. Now, with one hand on her steering wheel and the other holding her phone to her ear as she navigated Los Angeles traffic, she was fighting to save the forest from certain destruction.

“When Todd called, I thought it was like a deus ex machina – you know, like in the old Greek plays? When the writer got himself into a mess, he’d lower Zeus down in a machine, and he’d pop out and save the day,” she says. “But then he  started going on and on about how trees capture carbon and people would pay us to save the trees to stop global warming, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, a carbon cowboy.'”

Still, something kept her on the phone. Maybe it was his knowledge of forestry. Or maybe it was just curiosity on her part. Whatever it was, when they hung up, she’d pegged him as sincere and knowlegeable about the timber trade –  but naí¯ve about the rest of the world.

He called again about a week later, this time from his home in Hong Kong, and caught her on her way to Los Angeles International Airport.

“I was in a hurry,” she says. “So I told him that if he was serious, he’d have to come and visit me in in Pangkalan Bun.”

About a week after that, she heard a knock on her door. It was Lemons.

Next Week: Who is Todd Lemons?

CLP Group: Indian Wind Market Experiences Turbulence

 

17 June 2014 | In India, national incentives have helped wind projects get off the ground by attracting large scale investments. While carbon finance via the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the voluntary markets have historically helped provide a complementary international incentive, the  current market conditions means the wind industry faces a stormy year ahead.

Asian power company CLP Group focuses on renewable energy as part of its climate strategy. The company currently operates more than 1,000 MW of wind farms, some of which generate Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) and Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) for the CDM and voluntary markets. Ahead of the release of the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report, Senior Manager Dipjay Sanchania at CLP Wind Farms spoke to Ecosystem Marketplace’s Kelley Hamrick about India’s production of wind offsets and why the CDM market may be on its last legs.

KH: In a few words, can you describe the carbon market of last year?

DS: Last year could justifiably be referred to as ‘the last year’ for the CER market. Since the fourth quarter of 2013, CERs are trading below their cost of issuance and most of the project developers have been incurring losses in CDM activity. We haven’t heard of any experienced project developer starting fresh validation or verification in 2014.

This situation also highlighted structural flaws in design of the CER market. In the past, the CDM Executive Board took several measures to ensure the highest level of scrutiny in demonstration of additionality for the projects to get CDM benefit. Now when such projects are registered, nobody is taking responsibility to ensure that they get the minimum CDM revenue to deliver appropriate return to its investors. Governing authority with only ‘supply-side’ control proved fatal for this market. They focused too much on supply control and completely ignored demand management.

To summarise – carbon market, especially the CER market, has lost the very purpose of its existence.

KH: You’re still selling the offsets so are you counting those in your company?

DS: Our target is about emission intensity so it’s not about offsetting or being carbon positive or things like that. As of now, we don’t have any mandatory requirements to reduce our emission caps – we don’t have emission caps – so the credits aren’t a part of a mandatory or compliance requirement. So we’re trading in the market. By doing that, it makes the investment more viable.

KH: What is your view on future demand?

DS: Demand in the CER market is significantly lower than the supply and we don’t see any significant increase in demand in the short to medium term that can improve the prices or give negotiating power to the seller. Our strategy is to find the right buyer before undertaking the verification process. We are also diverting some of our projects from CDM to voluntary markets to reduce cost, complexity and time for issuance of the credits.

We believe a carbon market or carbon tax can play an important role in managing climate change. Currently, carbon is significantly under-priced, but it is expected to achieve its fair price in the long run, perhaps after 2020. In the last few years, we have seen an increase in severe climate events, citizens demand stronger environmental laws and political will towards mitigation or adaptation of climate change. These factors will reshape the carbon market in the long term.

KH: What’s the situation with Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and other incentives in India?

DS: The state of the REC market in India is similar to that of the CER market – demand is significantly lower than supply. Under the Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation (RPO) regulation, obligated entities, which are mainly power distribution companies, are required to purchase either a certain amount of power from renewable energy sources or RECs. Based on the size of the obligation faced by entities and their RPO requirements, the REC market in India should have healthy demand. But this demand remained theoretical as many of the obligating entities didn’t comply to RPO requirements, mainly due to the lack of stringent penalty mechanism. Due to this lower demand, the market has been trading at the floor price since August 2012 and even at this price only a small portion of total offered volume is getting cleared. Industry has already made representations to regulators about this and we are expecting improvement in the situation.

In 2008, the government of India introduced Generation Based Incentive for wind power projects in India to promote better capacity utilization and attract large investment from Independent Power Producers. This scheme has had a very positive response and was extended in 2009 and again in 2013. Due to simple eligibility criteria and procedures, it offers greater certainty of additional revenue and helps investors to make investment decisions considering such additional revenue. We must learn and implement such simple procedures and revenue certainty in a future carbon market to ensure its success.

 

China Lets Carbon Programs Blossom, But Will They Take Root?

China’s sub-national pilot carbon trading programs have been proliferating across the country, and these programs have all carved out a role for carbon offsets and would allow them to be traded across borders. Now comes the arduous tasks of building a national registry to facilitate those transactions and of promoting liquidity to reduce volatility.

9 June 2014 | – China has in many ways become a beacon of hope for those who believe that carbon pricing can make a difference in forestalling catastrophic climate change. The country has quickly become the second largest player in the global carbon markets, after the granddaddy of trading schemes – the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Despite implementing six pilot trading programs at lightning speed, however, China must contend with several obstacles before its carbon pricing agenda spreads across the country.

China was the talk of the Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany last month because of the quick pace at which it implemented six sub-national pilot carbon trading programs in 2013 and early 2014. Taken as a whole, China’s carbon markets cover the equivalent of 1,115 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), second only to the EU ETS’ 2,039 MtCO2e cap in 2013, the World Bank noted in its State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2014 report.

“If you read the World Bank’s report, there are really a few bright spots for the carbon market and China is probably the brightest,” said Xueman Wang, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist and team leader for the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness.

In November 2011, China announced its intention to implement the emissions trading pilots. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) picked five cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin) and two provinces (Guangdong and Hubei) to host the pilot trading programs.The first pilot program in Shenzhen was implemented in June 2013, with the other pilots quickly following suit, except for Chongqing, which is still in the allocation process, but close to launching.

“I was pleasantly surprised and ultimately impressed by the progress and achievement the Chinese pilots and the governments made within really just three years,” she said.

Moving too Fast?

Despite the rapid pace of implementation, these pilot programs have been challenged by a number of issues, namely a lack of liquidity that has instigated extreme price volatility. In Shenzhen, prices have fluctuated significantly, starting around 30 yuan per tonne and rising to 130 yuan in mid-October 2013 before falling back recently to trade at the 75 yuan tonne mark in small volumes.

The inactivity is being driven by the lack of a derivatives market, with no futures or options trading in China’s pilots, as well as the reluctance of companies to part with their allowances – until they know their full compliance obligations are covered – and participate in the market, said Jian Wei Lim, Director of Chinese Emissions Markets at consultancy ICIS.

The quick pace of implementation created challenges for the regulated entities because all the pilot programs applied retrospective liability, making these entities responsible for meeting compliance obligations before they had certainty about free allocation levels or price indicators, said Emily Spears, Emissions Strategy Lead for BP Singapore, which has compliance obligations in three out of the seven pilot programs.

“There’s no doubt that China is moving at lightning speed and their ambition and commitment to this task can only be congratulated,” she said. “But from my perspective I would be lying if I wasn’t saying that they are other elements that are key for these markets to actually operate correctly and function properly that are moving at painstaking slow levels. As a compliance participant, that presents a lot of challenges.”

Regulators need to have a better understanding of the role of liquidity providers and the benefits of foreign participation in ensuring the success of these markets, Spears said.

“Too often, it seems the benefits of liquidity and promoting sufficient price discovery and actually reducing price volatility are confused with speculation in this market,” she said.

Other elements of the pilot schemes have been established more effectively, such as the rules allowing for the use of offsets, she said. The offsets component is being managed by the NDRC, allowing the offsets to be fungible across all seven pilot schemes. However, Spears said what is still missing is the key infrastructure to allow these offsets to be transacted in the market, namely the national registry that is expected to become operational in the summer of 2014. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that offsets will be used during the first year of the pilot schemes, she said.

Offsets can generally be used for compliance in the pilot trading programs for up to 5-10% of obligations, said Wen Wang, Scientific Director, Climate Economics Professor, Paris-Dauphine University (Climate Economics Chair) and co-author of a recent paper Overview of Climate Change Policies and Development of Emissions Trading in China. The bulk of trading activity in the offset market is unlikely to be seen at least until 2016, the authors predicted.

However, offsets generated in China’s pilot trading programs have a unique advantage over allowances issued during the pilot phase because these allowances are unlikely to be carried over into any national scheme that may emerge. In contrast, offsets – because they are being developed under regulatory guidelines by the NDRC – will likely have a higher long-term value because they could transition into a national program, according to the paper.

The CDM Gives Birth in China

In June 2012, the rules for China’s project-based offset market were released, with the offsets named CCERs, short for China Certified Emissions Reductions (CCER). This is a reflection of the fact that the approval process closely resembles the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Certified Emission Reduction (CER) program, with the NDRC playing the role of the CDM Executive Board in overseeing the development of project methodologies and registrations and hosting a national registry.

China-based producers of CER offsets will have the chance to convert their CDM offsets into CCERs. The odds are that CCERs will only stem from existing CDM projects since the CDM market is already established in China and CER prices are hovering at rock bottom, justifying a switch from the CDM pipeline to the CCER framework before new projects are developed, according to the paper.

However, there are restrictions in the pilot programs on the use of offsets that could limit supply. Hubei, for example, requires all offsets to come from local projects, while Guangdong requires 70% local offset development and Beijing requires 50% local usage. Some of the pilots also ban certain types of projects such as hydropower, she said.

As of February 2014, about 70 projects were open for public comment as part of the project validation process, according to the paper. Most of these projects are wind, hydro and solar energy, with one project in Guangdong intending to request CCERs through carbon sequestration by afforestation.

All projects seeking CCER accreditation must use methodologies approved by the NDRC. As of February 2014, there are 177 approved methodologies – 173 stem directly from existing CDM methodologies, including the notoriously controversial HFC-23 and N2O adipic acid destruction methodologies that are now banned in the EU ETS. But even though these two project types can generate large volumes, they will probably not be issued CCERs despite being eligible for the pilot programs, according to the paper.

“Since China intends to gain leadership in climate change negotiations via its pilots it seems unlikely it will allow internationally controversial projects to receive CCERs,” the authors said in the paper. “Quite on the contrary, it may even favor projects with perceived higher environmental integrity such as renewable projects.”

The Role of Forests

The four new non-CDM methodologies target emissions reductions from forestry and land use. “I want to see more methodologies on the forest and agriculture sectors because much more attention is now on industry and the energy sector,” said Wen Wang. “I want to see more innovative methodologies to scale up mitigation.”

It will take time for projects using new methodologies to develop, particularly forestry projects that take time to materialize, the paper predicted. As for the other three land-use methodologies, they could be potentially large sources of offsets so such projects may not be issued offsets because of concerns that they could flood the market and drive prices down so low that they would annihilate any incentives for other projects to be developed, according to the paper.

Forestry offsets are allowed in Hubei’s trading program and are likely to be eligible in Chongqing. But the city may target emissions from the forestry sector in the future, an intriguing possibility although it is still hypothetical at this point, the paper noted.

Back to the Future

The attention to China’s compliance markets will only grow amid expectations that China will launch a national trading program in the 2016-2020 timeframe. In fact, market participants have already begun lobbying for next year’s Expo to feature two panel discussions on China’s carbon trading programs.

“I’ve seen this transformational policy change toward climate change” in China among political leaders, Xueman Wang said. “Just three years ago, the attitude and approach toward climate change was very different. Now, they say we care about climate change and we want to act in our own interest.”

Additional resources

Indonesian Government May Buy Carbon Offsets from Domestic Forest Conservation

Private conservationists are managing over 26.5 million hectares of threatened forests worldwide in hopes of being paid to keep forest carbon emissions on lockdown. But these projects are in danger as insufficient demand for carbon offsets leaves them in financial limbo. One country – Indonesia – may have a solution, as the government contemplates voluntarily purchasing forestry offsets to catalyze domestic action.


26 February 2014 | JAKARTA |
Southeast Asia has more than 27 million hectares of forested peatland, and peat releases devastating amounts of methane and carbon when drained or burned. Approximately 80% of the world’s peatland is in Indonesia, and much of it is slated to be converted to palm oil plantations, thanks to land-use concessions granted well before the decidedly green President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took office a decade ago.

At the same time, the Indonesian government is implementing a detailed strategy to harness finance from the carbon markets that will enable it to shift such concessions from forested areas to degraded lands. The country is also seeing a proliferation of smaller, private conservation efforts like the Rimba Raya “REDD” Project, which has rescued 47,000 hectares of forested peatland from imminent demise.

Until now, public and private conservation efforts have been running on a parallel track – in Indonesia and around the world – as governments struggle to deal with the complexities of developing national strategies to avoid or reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (aka REDD). Those national strategies won’t deliver verified carbon emissions reductions for years, while private efforts are already doing so. Yet these private efforts face an uncertain future, as the UN’s failure to secure binding international emissions reduction targets means a shortage of demand for offsets from endangered forest protection.

It’s a quandary that governments have been reluctant to deal with, mostly because of the perceived complexity of uniting (and accounting for and financing) both public and private efforts under one roof.

But Agus Sari, who is developing a REDD+ Funding Instrument for Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, says it’s not as complicated as many believe. Last year he proposed the creation of an interim financing mechanism called Financing REDD+ in Indonesia (FREDDI) that would act as a “fund of funds” administered by under the REDD+ Agency to support forest conservation.

In an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace he said those activities would include the purchase of REDD offsets voluntarily earned and certified to private carbon standards.

As the first country to create a high-level REDD+ Agency, Indonesia is seen as model of sorts for other governments looking to implement similar strategies. For that reason, Sari’s proposal could have global ramifications.

The REDD+ Agency

Headed by former Accenture executive Heru Prasetyo, Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency is charged with implementing the country’s National REDD+ Strategy, which is nothing less than a complete re-engineering of the country’s massive agricultural economy over the next five years.

Some of the Agency’s programs aim to leverage country-to-country REDD finance facilitated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to persuade palm oil companies with rights to forested land to instead shift their activities to degraded land.

It’s a massive “land swap” that requires first sorting out hundreds of competing claims on various parcels of land, and then reorganizing Indonesia’s agricultural economy – from multinational agroforestry companies down to small-scale farmers – around more forest-friendly land-use plans.

The strategy lays out a detailed sequence of activities to “ready” its economy for such a transition – beginning with institutional efforts including necessary changes to laws and statutes, and the “One Map” initiative that is slated to wrap up this year that consolidates scores of conflicting land-use and tenure maps from various agencies and districts in one consolidated, consistent database.

The strategy is built on five “pillars” (see below). Sari says the private conservation financing initiative would fall under the third pillar – “strategic programs”.

REDD Readiness: Re-Engineering Indonesia’s Agricultural Economy

Pillars

Source: Indonesian REDD+ Task Force, National REDD+ Strategy

The Proposal

Sari says the REDD Agency can act as an intermediary between domestic and international carbon markets.

“Here in Indonesia, we want to reduce our domestic emissions by 41% [below a business-as-usual scenario] by 2020, and in REDD terms that could mean about 1 billion tons of emission-reductions by 2020,” he says.

“We intend to fulfill part of our domestic targets through purchasing of emission-reduction performances from projects, because that not only helps us achieve our goals, but catalyzes the domestic market.”

The former head of Southeast Asia for EcoSecurities, Sari says the agency can also securitize domestic carbon offsets (or “carbon credits”) and package them for international sale.

“We would not only buy and sell like traditional dealers, but we could package them so that we buy insecure credits and we sell secure credits, and that increases the value quite considerably,” he says.

Liquidity, Security, Certainty

The government’s efforts would offer offset buyers a degree of certainty that they may not currently enjoy when purchasing offsets directly from private projects.

“If I buy from multiple projects in such a way that if one dies I have 200 others that survive, then any buyer will look at us as a secure intermediary.”

“Because of that,” Sari continues, “buyers will be willing to pay the higher price from us, which means we can buy at a higher price, and because we can buy at a higher price, we can enlarge our portfolio. Because we enlarge our portfolio, we are even more secure, and that means the buyer will be even more willing to buy at a higher price. That’s the virtuous cycle that we’re looking for.”

Sari can’t say when that cycle will begin, but he says the feedback on his proposal has been promising.
“Everyone I’ve presented this to likes it,” he says. “I’m optimistic.”

Additional resources

This Week In Forest Carbon News…

This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

21 May 2014 | Indonesia’s peat forests are a climate change ‘line in the sand.’ The country’s 22 million hectares of peat contain an estimated 200 billion tonnes of carbon – a third of Earth’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ through 2050 if we are to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Through a $1 billion REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) agreement with Norway in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono imposed a two-year moratorium on the palm oil concessions that have turned one of the largest carbon sinks in the world into a carbon source.

That moratorium has now been extended through 2015, but it doesn’t affect concessions already in place before it was signed, leaving millions of hectares of forest slated for conversion to palm oil. Heru Prasetyo, who took the helm of Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency in December, is tasked with preventing this climate nightmare. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Ecosystem Marketplace’s Steve Zwick, Prasetyo talks about Indonesia’s plan to move palm production to degraded land, why REDD+ is the new oil, and everything in between.

“We’ve spent 50 years developing this economy, and if we simply stop producing palm oil, we will be taking a massive economic hit, and production will just go elsewhere,” Pratseyo explained. “So we have to engineer a land-swap. This means identifying degraded land that could be used for palm oil and trying to see if there is a way to persuade the people who have palm-oil concessions to switch over.”

Zwick describes such a land swap as “a task comparable to asking the corn farmers of the American Midwest to move their crops en masse to the apple orchards of the Northeast.” Pratseyo recognizes that it won’t be easy, but he sees REDD+ as an essential tool for rebalancing the economic equation to make standing forests more valuable. He advocates for incorporating site-specific reference levels into a national strategy, and for taking the time to do multi-stakeholder consultation, even if it’s “messy.” When asked which complexities on the ground surprised him most, Pratseyo had an interesting answer:

“We knew that we’d have a lot of issues with tenure. That’s a problem we inherited from the Dutch, and then we made worse ourselves. So, we knew that, but the biggest surprise was that our institutions were not prepared for doing what needs to be done to make REDD+ work. But then we also found this benefit: that the reforms we needed to make for REDD+ were reforms that would have knock-on benefits across the agriculture sector. So, we’re using REDD+ to align our institutions and straighten out all of our tenure issues,” he said.

The interview, available here, is worth reading in full.

More stories from the forest carbon markets are summarized below, so keep reading!

Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace invites you join us for an event exploring findings from our 2014 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets survey. This year’s launch event at Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany is sponsored by ClimateCare, EcoAct, and Santiago Climate Exchange.

We’ll address questions such as: What were the most popular standards and project types in 2013? What average prices were forestry and other carbon offsets sold at? What buyer sectors are interested in forest carbon offsets, and how does offsetting fit into corporate supply chain management?

Join us, and panelists from BioCarbon Group, ClimateCare, EcoAct and the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) on Wednesday, May 28, 13:00 – 13:45 in the Plenary Room. Our latest report builds on data collected from a global pool of offset suppliers worldwide to provide insights that will once again become an industry benchmark.

 

 

 

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at general@forestcarbonportal.com.


News

INTERNATIONAL POLICY

No to déjí  vu

Speaking at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, Peru Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal called for a bottom-up climate agreement at the United Nations talks in Lima this December. “It should be clear that we are not going to repeat Kyoto,” he said. Pulgar-Vidal called for a central role for forestry, recognizing that deforestation is the biggest source of emissions in some countries in Latin America. “For me the forestry topic, it is still the younger brother of the climate debate,” he said. The Minister lamented the low price of carbon and said that resolving tenure rights will be key to building trust in forest carbon mechanisms.

NATIONAL STRATEGY AND CAPACITY

Less loopy

A new budget bill has closed a loophole in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) which allowed foresters who planted their trees after 1989 to earn New Zealand Units (NZUs) from the government, sell them to emitters, and then buy cheaper international Emissions Reduction Units (ERUS) to give back to the government. NZUs are currently worth 23 times ERUs, and foresters were able to earn several hundred million dollars through trading – with zero benefit to the climate. The budget bill came as a surprise to the Forest Owners Association, which said foresters who have bought ERUs in the last year will now be selling them at a loss.

If you abandon it, they will come

A report by Italy’s National Inventory of Forests finds that the country now has more than double the trees it hosted just after World War II. The widespread abandonment of farmland, particularly in the south, has led to massive reforestation, and forests now cover 27 million acres – about 35% of the country. As a Kyoto Protocol signatory, carbon sequestered by Italy’s forests is counted against its emissions targets, but that hasn’t stopped some Italian forest owners from participating in the voluntary carbon market. “There is the need to organize in a way to make sure that we are not monetizing twice the same credits,” Lucio Brotto, a researcher involved in developing the Italian Forest Code, told Ecosystem Marketplace.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Zambia zooming

BioCarbon Partners, a Zambian-based REDD+ project developer, announced last week that its Lower Zambezi REDD+ project achieved Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification. The project has also achieved validation against the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard at the ‘triple gold’ level, indicating ‘exceptional’ biodiversity, social, and climate adaptation benefits. It protects 39,000 hectares of intact miombo forest along the northwestern boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park and supports sustainable charcoal production, among other efforts to improve local livelihoods and reduce the drivers of deforestation. BioCarbon Partners is now actively seeking buyers to purchase carbon offsets from the project.

How hospitable

Hotel Verde in Cape Town, South Africa recently announced a partnership with impactChoice to neutralize carbon emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from the Sofala Community Carbon Project in Mozambique. The Plan Vivo REDD project, which has now been running for seven years, covers 11,744 hectares in Gorongosa National Park and is estimated to avoid the emission of 1,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (342,423 Plan Vivo certificates have been issued so far). “We have committed to offsetting each guest’s stay or conference with us at no additional cost to the guest, taking straight from our bottom line,” said Mario Delicio, the hotel owner.

FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

Above and beyond

A recent study commissioned by the Gold Standard (GS) and published by NetBalance valued the environmental, economic and social initiatives associated with 109 GS projects at $686 million. GS held 14% of market share in 2012, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013, and its co-benefits-centric approach led to prices that were among the market’s highest – an average of $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Some buyers may actually be more interested in the co-benefits than the carbon, but carbon provides a straightforward metric for monitoring and reporting. “People don’t give money for good causes anymore – they give money for results,” said Thomas Vellacott, CEO of World Wildlife Fund Switzerland, at this year’s GS conference.

Carbon Map taking off

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Carbon Map and Model project, financed through Germany’s KfW Development Bank to the tune of six million euros, was important to the Carbon Fund’s acceptance of DRC’s Emissions Reductions Program Idea Note. Implemented through World Wildlife Fund and GFA Consulting Group, the mapping project used a combination of field plot measurements and remote sensing data from an airplane-based sensor to create a national biomass map. DRC hopes to receive $60 million in emissions reduction payments through 2020 for avoided deforestation in Mai Ndombe Province. It will be the first jurisdictional REDD+ program in Africa.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Carbon queens

Mirror mirror on the wall, who stores the most carbon of them all? A new study published in the Journal of Ecology yields an answer: the rainforests of Borneo beat out the Amazon for the fastest woody growth – 49% faster, in fact – and therefore the most above-ground carbon storage. The research is based on 12,000 trees that were monitored for more than two decades. Borneo’s forests, however, have been under siege: more than 29,000 square kilometers of the lowland forests of Kalimantan were chopped between 1985 and 2001. In 2011, the first forest carbon project in Borneo was registered in Sabah under the VCS.

HUMAN DIMENSION

Hand-to-forest combat

Rudi Putra of Indonesia is one of six winners of this year’s Goldman prize, the most prestigious global award for environmental activists. Putra is fighting to save the 2.25 million-hectare Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, home to elephants, rhinos and orangutans – a quarter of which has already been destroyed. His efforts exposed illegal deforestation by more than two dozen palm oil plantations and helped to stop a 2013 provincial government plan to open up new tracts of forest to mining and palm. “We have basically no funding for the work we are doing, but we all stood together to protect the Leuser,” he said. The $175,000 prize money will go right back to the effort.

Scout’s dishonor

At age 11, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen started a campaign to get Girl Scouts of America to source more sustainable palm oil for their cookies. The result was Kellogg Company’s eventual adoption of a zero deforestation policy. But Vorva and Tomtishen – who are now of voting age – aren’t satisfied yet since ABC Bakers, the other company that bakes Girl Scout cookies, has not adopted a zero deforestation policy. The Girl Scouts’ bakers source palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm, a standard-setting body for social and environmental safeguards that does not explicitly exclude land conversion.

Miss Deforestation

Critics call her ‘Miss Deforestation,’ but she’d prefer ‘Miss President.’ Kí¡tia Abreu, a senator from the Brazilian state of Tocantis, is known as the staunchest supporter of agribusiness in the country. “There are many things holding back progress – the environmental issue, the Indian issue and more,” she told a journalist from The Guardian. Abreu does not plan to run in October’s election, but she says that campaigning someday is “fate.” Abreu is a stark contrast to Marina Silva, Brazil’s former environment minister who introduced policies to slow deforestation and who last month announced she will run alongside Socialist party candidate Eduardo Campos against current president Dilma Rousseff.

PUBLICATIONS

Let’s play 20 questions

The Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) 2013 annual report, released this month, highlights gains for forest carbon, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s adopted Wetlands Supplement, which allows national governments to include peatlands and mangroves in carbon accounting. At its Forests Asia Summit in early May, the organization launched its Top 20 Questions for Forestry – “t20q” – survey, which will steer coming research and policy work.

Getting engaged

A recent study by Tetra Tech for the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities program of the United States Agency for International Development compared four forest carbon projects in Eastern Africa – one in Uganda, one in Ethiopia, and two in Kenya. The study found that all the projects “effectively engaged” thousands of farmers to plant trees or regenerate forest, but “at current carbon prices, carbon revenues seem insufficient incentive for tree-planting.” Investment costs for Clean Development Mechanism and VCS compliance were often upwards of $1 million, and continue throughout the project.

JOBS

Forester / Forest Biometrician – Green Assets

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Forester/Forest Biometrician will evaluate large forested tracts for development of forest carbon projects, utilizing forest management plans, inventories, mapping and harvest data to make recommendations to Green Assets. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in Forestry with at least five years of experience in forest inventory design and mensuration. Strong understanding of remote sensing analysis techniques and experience with forest carbon project protocols such as Climate Action Reserve, American Carbon Registry, and California Air Resources Board preferred.

Read more about the position here

Forestry Senior Program Associate – American Carbon Registry

Based in Sacramento, California (preferred) or Washington, DC, the Senior Program Associate will provide support on all aspects of registry management, support business development and outreach activities, and help to coordinate the development and/or approval of new quantification methodologies. A master’s degree in forestry and three to six years of experience working with forest projects in the carbon market or related fields is required. Candidates who have completed California Air Resources Board training and passed the exam in the US Forests Compliance Offset Protocol are preferred.

Read more about the position here

Senior Associate Forest Certification – Rainforest Alliance

Based in Northfield, Minnesota, the Senior Associate will provide essential leadership in management and growth of Rainforest Alliance’s US forest management portfolio in the US Region. Responsibilities will encompass management and leadership, client service, and quality assurance. Preferred candidates will have an advanced degree with five to seven years of experience in forestry or a related field.

Read more about the position here

Director of Finance – EcoZoom

Based in Portland, Oregon or Nairobi, Kenya, the Director of Finance will drive the global growth of EcoZoom’s suite of clean cookstoves products for developing countries. The position involves working with senior management to develop a strategy for bilateral aid mechanisms such as carbon finance and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. The ideal candidate will have at least seven years work experience in finance, with a minimum of five years at a multinational company, preferably with offices in Africa.

Read more about the position here

APX – Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern

Based in Washington, DC, the Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets Intern will kick-start an analytics and research program through APX Environmental. The internship will emphasize learning and preparation for a potential future career in the field. Candidates must have a passion for research and analysis, strong communication skills, and enthusiasm about working in a start-up environment. Proficiency in Spanish is a plus.

Read more about the position here

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTAL

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a bi-weekly news brief, feature articles, a calendar of events, a searchable member directory, a jobs board, a library of tools and resources. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, an international database of projects including those in the pipeline. Projects are described with consistent ‘nutrition labels’ and allow viewers to contact project developers.

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.

 

Click here to view this article in its original format.

This Week In V-Carbon News…

This article was originally published in the Voluntary Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

 

30 April 2014 | California has long been taking its cues from the voluntary carbon markets in developing the offset component of its cap-and-trade program. The US state has now welcomed another voluntary project type into its program, but market participants are lobbying for the addition of even more protocols to help thwart any potential offset shortages.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced on Friday that it has approved a new protocol that would generate compliance-grade carbon offsets from coal mine methane projects. This project type joins forestry, urban forestry, livestock and ozone-depleting substances protocols also originally developed in the voluntary markets as being eligible to produce offsets for entities regulated by the cap-and-trade program. ARB staffers have previously estimated that the coal mine methane protocol could produce a potential domestic offset supply of 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) in emissions reductions.

The ARB sees emission reductions from carbon offset projects, including from agriculture and forestry projects, as a vital factor in achieving California’s ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. In 2006, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) – a landmark piece of legislation that outlined the state’s efforts to mitigate climate change. The legislation featured targets for reducing California’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The cap-and-trade regulation is currently in place through 2020 but may be extended.

Market participants see opportunities for more land-based offsets – emissions reductions generated via agriculture and forestry projects – to be added to the system, including avoided grassland conversion, wetland restoration, composting, rangelands and rice cultivation projects. The ARB could add rice cultivation as a new compliance offset protocol in September, making it eligible to generate carbon offsets for the program starting on January 1, 2015.

But bringing more of these types of projects into the state’s regulated carbon market will not be an easy task, given the high costs involved, particularly the costs of monitoring and verifying these emissions reductions.

“There is a lot of potential for relatively low-cost reductions in the agriculture sector, but some of these opportunities we’re talking about can be fairly marginal at the going price of carbon offsets,” Derik Broekhoff, the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Vice President of Policy, said at the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in San Francisco last month. The prices for California-bound offsets have generally hovered around $9 per tonne.

These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!

Every year, Ecosystem Marketplace relies wholly on offset market participants to financially support the State of research. In return, sponsors ($7.5k+) and supporters ($3k) benefit from the report’s growing exposure, early insight into our findings, and opportunities to engage directly with Ecosystem Marketplace in report-related outreach and events. Interested organizations should contact Molly Peters-Stanley.

—The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

World Cup’s carbon neutral GOOOOAAAAL!!!
Brazil’s Ministry of Environment has announced that it will accept certified emissions reductions (CERs) from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects based in the country in exchange for publicity during the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Donations will be accepted until July 18 and participating companies will receive an official certificate of participation in the ‘Selo Sustentabilidade – Baixo Carbono’ program. Of the almost 150 existing Brazilian CDM projects with more than 90 million CERs issued, perhaps 14 million CERs could be eligible to offset the 2.7 million metric tonnes of emissions (MtCO2e) associated with the event’s stadium construction, local transportation, and fossil fuel electricity consumption. However, the Brazilians do not have any plans to buy offsets directly.Read more from UN RIC
Read more from Reuters

 

Flying higher and greener
A new start-up company called TripZero aims to tackle the stubborn problem of rising GHG emissions in the global travel business. Partnering with online travel agency Expedia, TripZero will earn commissions from hotel bookings made through its site, with a portion of these commissions paying for carbon offsets to cover transportation and hotel-related emissions. The carbon offsets will come from reforestation, renewable energy, and methane capture projects under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Green-e Climate Standard.Read more here

 

Not going up in smoke
Women are being sold clean-burning liquid petroleum gas (or propane) cookstoves to help reverse the deforestation and negative health impacts associated with wood and charcoal cooking in Northern Sudan. The Darfur Low Smoke Project was launched in 2007 by the Women’s Development Association Network, the international NGO Practical Action and Carbon Clear. To date, 6,000 stoves have been delivered resulting in a reduction of more than 36,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (tCO2e). The stoves are registered with the Gold Standard and the first offsets were recently sold to a United Kingdom-based insurance firm. The project hopes to save more than 300,000 tCO2e within the next decade and replant local community forests.Read more here

 

Follow the green light
Renewable Choice Energy has joined Green-e Climate, and can now provide certified carbon offsets to green building projects under the newest version of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines for green power. This certification is awarded when a building provides at least 35% of its grid-connected electricity from renewable sources. CAR registered landfill gas projects in Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas will supply the offsets. Since 2003, Renewable Choice Energy has supplied green power and carbon offsets to more than 5,000 LEED projects worldwide.Read more here

 

Hail from the Queen
ClimateCare, a project developer based in the United Kingdom, was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development on April 21, Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious awards given to UK businesses for outstanding achievement in their field. ClimateCare’s projects include the LifeStraw Carbon For Water project in Western Kenya, Gyapa Stoves project in Ghana, and Kimbale rainforest restoration in the Congo Basin. To date, the company has assisted with reductions totaling more than 16.5 mtCO2e.Read more here

 

Cleaning the friendly skies
United Airlines has become the first US carrier to offer carbon offset redemption through its frequent flyer mileage program. Customers could previously calculate and offset their travel and cargo shipments only through additional monetary purchases. After booking on the airline’s website, customers can now exchange miles to offset their emissions through partner projects such as the Garcia River Forest Conservation project certified by CAR, Capricorn Ridge Wind Project in Texas certified by VCS, and Conservation International’s Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in Northern Peru certified by VCS. Between March 2012 and December 2013, a total of 7,370 tCO2e were purchased by customers through this program. United Airlines’ carbon offset program was designed in collaboration with Sustainable Travel International.Read more here

 

Climate North America

Keep on fallin’
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently submitted its annual Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2012, total emissions of the six main GHGs in the US were equivalent to 6,526 MtCO2e. This represents a 3.4% decrease from 2011 and a 10% decline from 2005 levels. The US has committed to a targeted 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and upcoming EPA rules for existing power plants due in June aim to help the country get there.Read more here
Read the full report
Read more here from Ecosystem Marketplace

 

A carbon pie in the sky?
After signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan in 2013, California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have made progress in cooperating on climate issues but more work lies ahead. A non-partisan legislative agency is researching a carbon tax in Oregon with its final report due on November 15. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is an outspoken advocate of action on climate change and has made it a priority of his administration, but he faces challenges in the state legislature. Carbon pricing programs in these states could build on previously established voluntary offset programs such as the Climate Trust.Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace

 

A taxing discussion
In a recent editorial, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) suggests that a price on GHG emissions would be beneficial for Wisconsin’s clean energy-oriented manufacturing and research and development sectors. The organization asserts that a revenue-neutral carbon tax on fossil fuel producers is the most effective means of achieving a carbon price. In such a model, revenues from the tax are returned to the public in order to offset higher prices for consumer consumption of fossil fuels. CCL points to a recent study of California that shows growth in that state’s economy under a carbon tax when all revenue is returned to the public.Read more here

 

Kyoto & Beyond

Earning their keep
With activity in the CDM well off its 2012 peak, some are questioning the wisdom of continuing to support an administrative staff of close to 150 for the program. While the mechanism has reserves to finance operations at current levels almost until 2020, experts suggest that the surplus could be used to support the market through purchase of offsets or development of mechanisms earmarked for the anticipated post-2020 climate agreement. The CDM Executive Board has been working to make improvements in the system and promote the offsets outside the Kyoto Protocol to increase demand.Read more here

 

Global Policy Update

Peru doing the PES limbo
Peruvians have spent the last six years developing a comprehensive legal framework for the sticky issue of payments for ecosystem services (PES). The current bill is one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of its type, but it’s been stuck in committee for five years, and its future is uncertain since a recently scheduled debate was scrapped. The bill provides a legal framework to support a diverse range of ecosystem services – including GHG emissions reductions, biodiversity conservation, the preservation of natural beauty, and investments in watershed services – where land stewards are compensated to practice sustainable land use.Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace

 

Up, up, and away
Trading volumes have soared as speculative players drive up prices in China’s newest regional pilot emissions trading system. In Hubei, 1.6 million allowances were traded in the first 12 days, versus 66,000 total allowances for China’s five other pilot markets in the same period. Prices have risen modestly from the initial set amount of 20 yuan to 25 yuan in mid-April. Speculators are encouraged by the performance of the Shenzhen pilot market last year, which spiked from 30 yuan to 130 yuan, albeit on small volumes. A key difference seems to be the absence of a capital threshold to trade in the Hubei system. Trading is expected to remain volatile until compliance entities report emissions and participate in the market in 2015.Read more at Reuters

 

Is the party over?
Revenues for China’s top sellers of CERs dropped to a tenth of 2012 values. China Longyuan Power Group Corp, Huaneng Renewables Corp and China Datang Corp Renewable Power reported combined revenue of $20 million in 2013, down from more than $150 million in 2012 and almost $300 million in 2011. This presents a challenge for carbon projects seeking funding that once steadily flowed from Europe. Many independent project developers will seek opportunities in China’s burgeoning emissions trading systems – almost 60 new projects are already trying to transition to domestic funding- but it is unclear if former CDM projects will be able to participate due to contract disputes.Read more at Reuters

 

Carbon Finance

Money is everything
Thirty donor countries recently pledged $4.43 billion over the next four years for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support developing countries’ efforts in preventing degradation of the global environment. More than 140 countries will benefit from these funds for projects addressing climate change, deforestation, land degradation, extinction of species, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to oceans and freshwater resources. Since 1991, the GEF has provided $12.5 billion in grants and leveraged $58 billion in co-financing for nearly 3,700 projects in more than 165 countries.Read more here

 

Bank on Africa
The African Development Bank has started a new climate change fund for the continent, the Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF), with an initial investment of $6 million by Germany. The ACCF will begin by focusing its funds on climate finance readiness projects with the aim of securing larger amounts in the future from the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF). The ACCF is a lessons-learned response to the relatively small amount of funding that African countries received from the CDM. The GCF is scheduled to launch in May.Read more here

 

Science & Technology

China seeing green (grass)
A new methodology just approved by the VCS could help farmers in China and other countries tap into the carbon markets to help them manage their grasslands more sustainably. The methodology, developed by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, the World Agroforestry Center and the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, could be particularly useful in mitigating the impact of China’s growing population on its carbon footprint. Projects under the methodology, which helps overcome the major hurdle of high measuring and monitoring costs, could also be recognized by the China Certified Emissions Reduction offset program.Read more here

 

The grazing could always be greener
The American Carbon Registry recently released a new methodology for avoided GHG emissions on grazed grasslands for public comment. Developed by Terra Global Capital with support from the Environmental Defense Fund, Silver Lab at the University of California Berkeley, and the Marin Carbon Project, the methodology provides an accounting framework for the carbon storage achieved by adding compost to fields – both by enhancing plant growth and by diverting organic waste that would otherwise decompose in landfills, releasing methane. If approved, it would generate offsets for the voluntary carbon market. The public comment period is open through May 14.Read more here

Featured Jobs

Director of Policy and Research – Climate Advisers
Based in Washington, DC, the Director will lead major research and advocacy projects as well as liaise with policymakers and opinion leaders in the federal government, foundations, think tanks, environmental organizations, and corporations. The ideal candidate will have extensive practical experience with US and international climate and development policy making, including a network of climate and development contacts in Washington, DC. The candidate will also have an advanced degree in economics, public policy, international relations, or a related field, with a proven record of high-impact, policy-relevant reports, white papers, and memos on climate change and sustainable development that have changed the policy conversation.Read more here

 

Sustainability Engagement Associate (Financials Sector) – CDP North America
Based in New York, NY, the Associate will be responsible for engaging with corporate sustainability and investor relations professionals at a range of seniority levels to secure their annual response to CDP. The successful candidate will have superior interpersonal skills, including the ability to engage with resistant parties, and to pitch services. The candidate will also have at least two years of work experience (this can include internships), preferably in sustainability and/or with financials companies.Read more here

 

Director, Supply Chain Integrity – Rainforest Alliance
Based in New York, NY, the Director will be responsible for overseeing strategy, operations, and general management of Rainforest Alliance’s Supply Chain Integrity program through direct management of the traceability, trademarks, chain of custody, claims-based system, and related components. The ideal candidate will have a master’s degree or equivalent in professional experience; a minimum 10 years of experience; demonstrated experience in market-based conservation, change-management, certification and traceability.Read more here

 

REDD+ Finance and Carbon Market Specialist – Terra Global Capital
Preferably based in San Francisco, California, the Specialist will assist countries with ambitious REDD+ plans by building capacity within those countries to achieve long-term net emissions reductions from forests and land use and contribute to the evolving REDD+ framework. Eligible candidates must have five years of combined experience in private sector finance and REDD+, forest carbon, payment for environmental services, carbon markets (voluntary or regulatory), and/or natural resource project finance. Fluency in English and Advanced Spanish are required.Read more here

 

Carbon Footprint Assessor – Carbon Trust
Based in London, UK, the Assessor will work with the certification team to assess whether carbon footprints or other environmental claims comply with the requirements of the Carbon Trust’s proprietary standards and other certification rules or standards. Eligible candidates must have a relevant degree in environmental, economics, engineering, or other numerate discipline.Read more 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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