Wednesday In Washington: Explore Latest Developments In Forest-Carbon Finance

Steve Zwick

Year-end climate talks begin on November 7, and the latest State of Forest Carbon Finance Report, to be released Wednesday, documents a massive uptick in forest-carbon finance – an uptick that still falls far short of the amount needed to end deforestation, which pumps 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere yearly. Join us to learn how the Paris Agreement might change this equation.

25 October 2016 | The Paris Climate Agreement creates a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in part by funneling money into programs that promote better management of forests, farms and fields – our impact on which generates nearly 25% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

It formalizes mechanisms that have been evolving for decades both inside and outside the United Nations, and two reports published this year offer insight into how those mechanisms have evolved in the past and how they may evolve in the future. On Wednesday, we’ll offer a deep dive into both reports, and an opportunity to speak with report contributors Kelley Hamrick and Peter Graham.

The first report, to be released tomorrow at the Washington, DC, offices of Baker & McKenzie, is the most recent State of Forest Carbon Finance report. It charts all of the past, current, and future “payments for performance” – or payments for specific reductions in deforestation – that have ever either flowed into or been pledged to forest conservation. It identifies more than 800 individual projects that have been funded to the tune of roughly $6 billion to-date – an impressive number until you compare it to the $100 trillion global economy.

The second report, which was published in July, addresses that massive shortfall and how the Paris Climate agreement can bridge it by ramping up funding for REDD+.

Short for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (plus other land uses)”, REDD+ has long been the most sought-after offset type in voluntary forest finance, but is not yet included in any compliance markets. The report, entitled “The Implications of the Paris Climate Agreement for Private Sector Roles in REDD+”, breaks out the various carrots and sticks embedded in the Paris Agreement, and explains how these can be deployed to dramatically increase funding for forest conservation.

Co-Authors of both reports will present their findings on Wednesday and be available for questions afterwards, and Ecosystem Marketplace will also harness the event for a follow-up story previewing the Marrakesh climate talks.

Registration for Wednesday Event

The event runs from 3pm to 6:30pm on Wednesday, October 26, at the offices of Baker & McKenzie LLP (815 Connecticut Ave NW #900, Washington, DC 20006). You can register for the event here, and you can find the agenda here.

Managing the Transition

The new State of Forest Carbon Finance Report comes as the forest-carbon sector moves from a period of experimentation on isolated projects to broader programs covering entire jurisdictions. While these broader programs will certainly be more comprehensive, they do not yet exist – leaving an interim period where existing projects may be used to accelerate emission-reductions, possibly under a new aviation mechanism being developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

What’s in the New Report?

The new report covers the history of forest-carbon finance, including the impact of Australia’s shift from a carbon tax to an Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the growing number of companies endorsing the New York Declaration on Forests, and the evolution of cap-and-trade in places like California and Quebec. It also takes stock of activities in countries we’ve covered before – like Brazil and Kenya – and adds in new countries like Burkina Faso, Guinea, and others.

Here is a summary of the agenda:

3:00-3:30 Registration and sign-in; coffee and tea available (no food)

3:30-5:00 Forests and Finance – Trends, developments in national and jurisdictional REDD and ag programs, new innovations in the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, and a preview of COP22 (Moderator: Michael Wolosin)

  • Launch and overview of State of Forest Carbon Finance Report (Kelley Hamrick of Fores Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace presents, covering three segments: voluntary markets, emerging compliance markets, and performance payments)
  • What the Paris Agreement may do for forests and finance, COP22 expectations, and important developments outside the UNFCCC, including ICAO (Peter Graham)
  • Private finance perspective and new developments – A new investment platform for carbon and other environmental assets (Althelia/Kate Dillon Levin)
  • Private finance perspective and new developments – The REDD+ Acceleration Fund (Encourage Capital/Eron Bloomgarden)

5:00-6:30 Reception

Steve Zwick is a freelance writer and produces the Bionic Planet podcast. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Ecosystem Marketplace, and prior to that he covered European business for Time Magazine and Fortune Magazine and produced the award-winning program Money Talks on Deutsche Welle Radio in Bonn, Germany.

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