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7 May 2017 | It’s that time of year again. We’re less than a month away from releasing the State of Voluntary Carbon Markets 2017 report. This year, we’re launching at Innovate4Climate, the climate finance-based event formerly known as Carbon Expo. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Senior Associate and report author Kelley Hamrick will present major findings and take some burning questions. The conference is held in Barcelona, Spain from May 22 – 25.
Hamrick was also on hand during last month’s Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW), which took place in San Francisco from the 19 – 21. The event focuses on both national and international climate policy along with market-based mechanisms and Hamrick presented preliminary findings from the upcoming report. Among the highlights: drop in volume of transactions in 2016 while REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) overtakes wind as the top project type.
Rising temperatures and governments ambivalent on climate action make offsetting a critical tool for combatting climate change, Hamrick says.
Governor of California Jerry Brown is thinking along the same lines. He also attended NACW and pledged climate action despite attitudes in Washington claiming climate change isn’t happening.
“You can’t just go with the flow. We’ve got to go against the flow,” Brown said. “The flow is now leading us to catastrophe.”
Brown mentioned that he remained committed to extending California’s carbon market though he also said markets weren’t enough. The world must decarbonize.
Discussions on the status and growth of California’s carbon market at NACW turned out to be particularly topical as the program received a piece of big legal news earlier in the month. The news actually dates back three years to when the California Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit claiming the state’s cap-and-trade program represented an illegal tax. The court disagreed and in an April 6 ruling, a California Court of Appeals upheld by a vote of 2-1 a lower court ruling that the sale of allowances for California’s cap-and-trade system at auction does not constitute a tax.
“The purchase of allowances is a voluntary decision driven by business judgements as to whether it is more beneficial to the company to make the purchase than to reduce emissions,” the court wrote in its opinion.
“The court’s decision affirms the basic purpose and structure of the program—to deliver carbon reductions in a cost-effective and flexible manner,” said Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in a statement.
Naturally, opponents to markets disagreed. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a co-plaintiff, criticized the ruling in a statement.
“Under the majority’s reasoning, California’s gasoline taxes are not really taxes, because the state does not compel you to buy gasoline and you get something of value for paying the tax: a gallon of gas,” it said.
Carbon market advocates, meanwhile, are indeed treating this as a clear victory, though legal experts say the program’s future is still unclear. Legislation passed last year doesn’t explicitly give CARB authority to administer a cap-and-trade program post-2020.
Additionally, lawmakers are directing CARB to prioritize rules and regulations that result in “direct” emissions reductions. They are basically telling CARB to focus more on command-and-control measures rather than on flexible market-based approaches.
That being said, there will always be opposition, and Brown made clear at NACW that he supports a carbon market and wants its operation to continue. He’s currently seeking a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature to solidify that the program can indeed operate post-2020.
Ultimately, this win in court is a boost for carbon market supporters and California’s program lives to fight another day.
More news about carbon finance is summarized below, so keep reading!
HERE’S THE DEAL
The road more traveled but with less carbon
Travel may be getting greener as more entities adopt offsetting initiatives. US rental car company The Hertz Corporation is launching a new carbon offset program, which TerraPass has signed on to administer. The program enables corporate customers to offset emissions associated with their vehicle rentals using a personalized platform. The University of Maryland (UMD), meanwhile, may join a growing group of organizations that require stakeholders to pay for their emissions. The school is considering a program that charges students, faculty and staff a surcharge when traveling by air for university-related trips. The school would use this fee to then offset travel emissions. College officials estimate the surcharge price at $5, which they don’t foresee as breaking the bank for anyone.
Read more about The Hertz Corporation’s offsetting program at Travel Daily News. The Diamondback has coverage of UMD’s proposal to offset travel emissions.
A force for carbon neutrality
Salesforce, a customer relations management enterprise based in San Francisco, is on a journey to carbon neutrality. And it’s purchasing carbon offsets to mitigate emissions it can’t eliminate. The company says it buys credits from high quality projects that are certified by the Gold Standard such as a solar water heating project in India and Proyecto Mirador, a Cool Effect carbon offset project that builds clean cookstoves in Honduras. According to an earlier Ecosystem Marketplace article, Proyecto Mirador actually uses Salesforce’s cloud computing services to store data and GPS points. Staff can use it to monitor stove installations and material needs or even use Salesforce to provide interactive imagery of stove locations in real time. Both projects deliver human wellbeing co-benefits and Salesforce says such improvements factor in critically when choosing offset projects.
Read Salesforce’s blog for more.
Waste of time?
Australian waste management business, Waster, is wondering if its customers will pay a little extra for carbon offsets. The company partnered with Greenfleet, an Australian offset provider, to plant native Australian trees to offset emissions. A US $3 purchase will offset 0.54 tonnes, the company says. In addition, Waster will match customers’ purchases. Officials at Waster acknowledge offsetting programs are more common in the travel sector, for instance, and aren’t sure if customers will pay for carbon neutrality as part of waste management and recycling services, but they’re willing to give it a try. If this initial jaunt with offsets is successful, the company says it will offer an all-inclusive fee for customers that includes carbon offsets.
Waster has details.
Sustainable human habitats
Habitat for Humanity and CFA Institute, an association for investment professionals, are launching a pilot carbon offset project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Essentially, 10 of the 14 homes in an upcoming residential development near downtown will generate offsets based on energy efficient upgrades that CFA is financing to the tune of $80,000. Upgrades include 100% CFL/LED lighting, 1/2 inch rigid Styrofoam exterior insulation and cellulose wall insulation, Kelli Palmer, Director of Corporate Citizenship at CFA explains. The number of offsets these efficiencies will generate is to be determined by a third-part consultancy. The independent consultant, John Semmelhack, will ensure each upgrade is installed correctly.
NBC29 has more.
Shopping for carbon offsets
People working within the eco-bubble know all about carbon offsets. Individuals living outside this bubble, however, may not be aware of the opportunities they offer to reduce a person’s environmental impact and combat climate change. Complexities that surround offsetting can be off-putting for some, and even practitioners and experts find them confusing. In an effort to unpack the sector’s complications, Ecosystem Marketplace recently launched a buyer’s guide to offsetting. The document is living as its author will update and edit as needed. Ultimately, the guide attempts to answer questions of what, where and why for people who want to offset but don’t know how.
Read Ecosystem Marketplace’s guide to carbon offsetting.
A new link in the carbon market chain
Mexico’s plans to launch a pilot carbon market in early 2018 are on track, according to a government official, Rodolfo Lacy. An official emissions trading system will follow later the same year. This market will closely resemble California’s system and officials have plans to link to California by 2021. Lacy estimates between 400 – 600 companies will participate initially as the market is voluntary, but industry exceeding 25,000 tons of CO2 will face mandatory caps. Concerns over this market are coming from industry actors wondering how it will affect their competitiveness in global markets, and market observers questioning the robustness of Mexico’s MRV (monitoring, reporting and verifying) infrastructure. Lacy says the government is working on impact assessments and shoring up MRV efforts.
Read more at Carbon Pulse (subscription required).
Fusing sustainable agendas
The Gold Standard and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are joining forces to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Gold Standard is championing an integrated approach to achieving objectives laid out in both the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, and this new partnership aims to help companies, investors and governments assess their sustainability initiatives. More specifically, the UN-Gold Standard collaboration will develop methodologies to quantify and report on entities’ sustainable development actions. This includes large-scale interventions across a supply chain, for example, or municipality.
The Gold Standard has details.
Carbon credit controversy
Authors of a recent report analyzed carbon credits generated under the Clean Development Mechanism and determined the majority of them are unlikely to produce genuine emissions reductions. Though they looked exclusively at CDM credits, authors say the challenges are inherent to crediting mechanisms in general. They agree that international cooperation is necessary to reduce emissions quickly and suggest that crediting measures play a limited role. Authors do recommend using innovative sources of finance such as revenues from auctioning of emissions trading system allowances. Some groups argue these findings show that CDM offsets aren’t reliable and shouldn’t be included in future markets outlined in the Paris Agreement, for instance. Meanwhile, the European Commission, which funded the research, said it’s analyzing the outcome.
Read more from Carbon Pulse (subscription required) and Inside Climate News.
Trillions are needed to fund national climate action strategies, which is why business, finance and government leaders will focus on ways in which to unlock it at the Innovate4Climate event. Formerly known-as Carbon Expo, Fira Barcelona and the World Bank will host Innovate4Climate in Barcelona, Spain from May 22 – 25. Created in partnership with Climate Action and the International Emissions Trading Association, the conference’s themes include carbon markets, scaling up Nationally Determined Contributions and shaping future climate policy among several other topics. Interested in attending? Friends of Ecosystem Marketplace receive a 10% discount on registration!
Farming for carbon
The Aboriginal Carbon Fund (AbCF) won a deal with the Queensland government to deliver carbon farming projects for Aboriginal communities. It’s an effort covered under the Queensland government’s $8.4 million CarbonPlus Fund, which officials announced last year. Specific undertakings include developing a co-benefit verification standard for carbon farming on Aboriginal land and establishing a carbon fund, which aims to address supply and demand issues with Aboriginal carbon credits. Queensland’s Environment Minister says the venture will not only reduce emissions but create jobs for the region’s indigenous groups. One of AbCF’s first orders of business is to host a workshop in the Injinoo Aboriginal community.
Sunshine Coast has details.
Project Manager – Forestry and Technical Services, TerraCarbon
Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Project Manager will provide technical support on the development and implementation of voluntary and regulatory forest carbon projects in the United States and abroad. S/he performs feasibility studies and prepares project design documents and monitoring reports. S/he will also support activities and development of documentation needed to achieve project validation and monitoring verification liaising between clients and auditors. Qualified candidates will hold a graduate degree in forestry or environmental science and strong field forestry and analytical skills. Proficiency in sampling design and statistics, forest inventory and mensuration, forest growth and yield modeling and GIS and database management are required. Spanish language skills are a plus as is experience working in developing countries.
Program Positions, PUR Projet
PUR Projet is hiring for three positions based in Paris. A Senior Programs Manager will manage several programs designing, structuring and piloting large scale insetting programs. Engineering or business school degree is required as is 5-10 years of experience in management consulting. The Program Officer will work with managers to develop these insetting programs and coordinate with the PUR team to achieve the expected results. For the Program Officer, qualified candidates will have 1-2 years of experience in consulting and a desire to work in a socio-environmental business setting where integrating climate change risks into economics is a priority. PUR Projet is also hiring for a Projects Coordinator. S/he will develop, coordinate and monitor integrated reforestation and agroforestry projects in France. This includes assisting with feasibility and project set-up. Successful candidates will have experience engaging with farming communities and possess one year of field work experience. A background and academic degree in agronomy or agriculture engineering is preferable.
Sales Manager, Climate Neutral & Green Energy Markets, First Climate
Based in Bad Vilbel, Germany, the Sales Manager for the climate neutral and green energy markets will acquire companies interested in voluntary carbon offsetting and green energy purchases in Europe and beyond. S/he will also support product development for First Climate’s international green energy business and provide intelligence on industry developments. Successful candidates will have a relevant educational background and at least 2-3 years of working experience in sales. Fluent spoken and written German and English is essential as is familiarity engaging with both national and international companies.
Associate, Research and Policy, Climate Advisers
Based in Washington D.C., the Associate will interact with policymakers and opinion leaders in the federal government, environmental organizations and corporations with a focus on innovative policy solutions to halt climate change through tropical forest protection that also promotes economic growth. S/he will research and write high-impact policy briefs, background papers and other materials. S/he will coordinate projects and arrange, attend and participate in meetings with government officials, clients and climate change stakeholders. Successful candidates will have a bachelor’s degree and 1-3 years of practical experience in forest and climate policy. Graduate degree is preferred as is an academic background in economics, international studies or environmental studies/science. Creativity, maturity and an exceptional collaborative style is also necessary.
Policy Summer Internship, Center for Clean Air Policy
Based in Washington D.C., the Center for Clean Air Policy has an opening for a graduate-level, policy summer internship. S/he will contribute to research activities related to such topics as climate finance, carbon markets and climate change mitigation policies. Responsibilities include research and quantitative analysis on developing country policies as well as offering support on several projects including literature review of international and domestic carbon markets. A successful candidate will be a current graduate in a public policy-related program with coursework or experience from the climate and energy realm. Excellent writing skills required and fluency in Spanish a plus.
Find out more.