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Securing Climate Benefit: a Guide to Using Carbon Offsets

The world has finally awakened to the enormity of the climate challenge, but few people know what they can do to reduce their own emissions. You can begin by driving less and flying less, but you can also purchase carbon offsets. Here is a new guide to the basics.

Nearly Half of Companies With Deforestation Risk Aren’t Addressing It

Some of the world’s most high-profile companies have committed to purging deforestation from their commodity supply chains, but they amount to just 8 percent of global companies involved in the production of commodities associated with deforestation, and a staggering 44 percent of such companies have made no public commitments to harvest commodities sustainably. New analysis from Ceres and Supply Change aims to address that.

Two Tenths of A Percent to Help End Climate Change?

Renewable energy costs have plunged in the past decade, but we’re still trillions shy of meeting the climate challenge. Carbon taxes will drive down emissions and fund solutions, while a general tax will do the latter but not the former. A new proposal calls for a voluntary surcharge on savings to get money flowing now, before it’s too late.

To Get People Engaged on Climate, Media Must Focus on Solutions

Mainstream media are finally coming to terms with the enormity of the climate challenge, but their shift from complacency to panic mode may leave people feeling helpless. To implement real change, they need to focus more on solutions, argue these two linguists.

Shares in Sustainable Palm Oil Companies Outperform Those of Bad Actors by 25%

For decades, palm oil companies got big by being bad – specifically, by chopping forests to make way for oil palm plantations. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was created in 2004 to change that, and there’s mounting evidence it may be working. New research of RSPO members outperforms shares of non-members by 25 percent, just as a new index of RSPO members launches.

A $50 Price on Carbon Will Boost Forest Carbon Sink 15 Percent: Study

The generally-accepted social cost of carbon is roughly $100 per ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but voluntary carbon prices rarely top $10 per ton. New research shows that a price of just $20 per ton can dramatically slow deforestation, especially in Africa, and mop up nearly 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

What ProPublica Gets Wrong – And Right – On Forest Carbon Finance

Everyone agrees that we must save the world’s forests if we’re to end climate change, but how to get there? One cluster of tools involves using carbon finance to keep forests alive, and a ProPublica piece critical of such efforts sparked a swirl of reactions, including one in these pages. EDF’s Steve Schwartzman argues that the critique failed to adequately distinguish between isolated projects and jurisdiction-wide programs.

Opinion: ProPublica’s Inexcusable REDD+ Belly Flop

Mainstream media outlets have been congratulating themselves of late for becoming just 20 years too late on climate change, and now the same institutions that have consistently failed to cover the enormity of the challenge are failing to cover the myriad interlocking solutions. This week, ProPublica became the latest outlet to blow it

Remembering The Day Milton Friedman “Endorsed” A Price On Carbon

Climate change is finally beginning to get the media attention it deserves, reviving in the process dormant debates over how to deal with it. Most economists argue that the most effective way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is to make emitters pay for the damage they cause. Today we look back to what happened when the University of Chicago resurrected its most famous economist to see how he proposed dealing with environmental catastrophes.

The Astonishing Opportunities in Our “Hidden Infrastructure”

US President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently reached across the political divide to agree to spend up to $2 trillion to fix America’s battered infrastructure. That infrastructure deal has yet to be constructed. But it should include investments in green infrastructure – not just gray.

How Can We Save Our Food Systems From Climate Change?

Climate-smart agriculture and natural climate solutions are key to meeting the climate challenge, but so is helping farmers implement technologies that can help them withstand the changes ahead. A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization identifies the greatest risks to our food supply and how we can best address them.

IPCC Updates GHG Inventory Recommendations

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has updated the guidance it provides to governments for measuring its greenhouse-gas emissions, including flows of carbon into and out of land systems.

Before Electing Bolsonaro, Brazil Slashed Emissions 70%. Nobody Cared

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says the Amazon is Brazil’s to exploit, and the world should stop meddling in it. He’s wrong, but the resentment that thrust him into office has a history, and it’s one more of us must acknowledge if we’re to save the “lungs of the planet.”

How Carbon Markets Can Boost Biodiversity And Slow Climate Change

Research shows we can get 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2-degree target by improving the way we manage forests, farms, and fields, and carbon markets offer a way of funneling money into these activities. Here’s where markets stand now, and how we move them forward quickly.

EM Boss Kelley Hamrick Honored With CARROT Award For Work On Carbon Markets

California’s Climate Action Reserve has recognized Ecosystem Marketplace Program Manager Kelley Hamrick with its “Climate Action Reserve Recognizing Our Team” (CARROT) Award. She has authored or co-authored over 15 reports, including our flagship annual reports on the State of Private Investment in Conservation and the State of Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Extinction Crisis Threatens Ecosystem Services That Provide Our Food

A key UN body has just aggregated all known research on biodiversity loss, including knowledge gleaned from indigenous peoples, and the results are devastating: more than 20 percent of known plant and animal species have disappeared in the last century, while more are disappearing daily. The result is a grave threat to our entire food system. But therein lies our salvation.

World Lost 12 Million Hectares of Tropical Forest in 2018

Companies around the world have pledged to end deforestation by 2020, but the world lost enough tropical forests to cover all of Belgium in 2018. Put another way: tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of 30 football fields per minute.

Green Old Deal: Why Carbon Offsets Matter More Than Ever

The Green New Deal Resolution may have failed in the Senate, but it’s spawned a flurry of new proposals and revived talk of a national price on carbon. Tim Whitley of Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) explains why that really is a very big deal.

Remembering Forgotten Climate Solutions this Earth Day

Earth Day began a half-century ago as part of an effort to help college students understand the importance of ecology. Such education is still critical if we’re to meet the climate challenge, so we’re using this day to shine a light on a few key tools for reversing climate change.

Carbon Markets Back in Limelight as US Finally Joins the Global Climate Effort

The Green New Deal may have failed in the Senate, but Democrats and even some Republicans are introducing legislation to address climate change, and the emerging targets can’t be achieved without some form of carbon pricing. That means the revival of an old debate, and possibly the resurrection of some old myths. Here are the old myths, together with findings showing why they belong on the scrapheap of alternative facts.

Nature, Paid on Delivery: Is Pay for Success the Future of Ecological Restoration?

As an environmental scientist, Tim Male learned how to restore degraded ecosystems. As an elected councilman, he learned how to pay for them. Finally, as an adviser to the Obama White House, he got to see nationally what works, what doesn’t, and why. Here’s why he believes that “pay for success” models can ratchet up restoration and keep down costs.

In Ecological Restoration, High Costs Trump Regulatory Rollbacks

The Trump Administration wants to roll back federal protection of wetlands, but it also aims to increase support for water quality trading and bundling of environmental credits. For people who work in ecological restoration, however, the biggest regulatory challenge may be the high cost of compliance – brought on, ironically, by tight regulatory budgets.

Defending the Amazon, and the Earth, from “Trump of the Tropics”

California’s Air Resources Board looks set to adopt the Tropical Forest Standard in the next few months, a move that would embed social values into carbon offsets that are used to reduce emissions in the state, no matter where those offsets come from. The move could raise the bar for forest carbon projects around the world, and provide a bulwark against unsustainable agriculture practices in the Amazon.

From the Blog
A Dispatch from Peru for World Water Day

The people of Peru have been sustainably managing their water for millennia, with infrastructure projects that surpass even the better-known aqueducts of ancient Rome. World Water Day is especially critical in the desert city of Lima.

More Evidence Companies Won’t Meet 2020 Deforestation Targets

Hundreds of companies have pledged to purge deforestation from their supply chains, but research by Climate Focus, TFA 2020, and the Forest Trends Supply Change initiative have long indicated that few companies will meet their targets and most will fall woefully short. Now new research from Forest 500 reiterates those findings.

Land Use, Markets, and the Green New Deal: a Conversation With Rhiana Gunn-Wright

The Green New Deal Resolution has been alternately vilified, glorified, and dismissed since freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and veteran Senator Ed Markey unveiled it last month. We spoke to policy adviser Rhiana Gunn-Wright about the resolution and the role of markets and natural climate solutions.

Six Leading Commodity Groups Agree to Come Clean on Cerrado Impact

When Jair Bolsonaro defanged Brazil’s federal environmental regulatory apparatus, hope fell to international commodity buyers and individual Brazilian states. Although neither can substitute for federal regulation, each has stepped up in its own way – most recently with a pledge to provide transparency on soy sourcing.

Conserve to Build: Protecting Ecosystems to Ensure Water Supplies in Peru

Run out of water? Is it possible for a source of water to just dry up, or for water supplies for a city to be affected in quantity or quality to the point of being unusable for human consumption? Could a river, a lake, or a puquial that had existed for as long as anyone could remember just disappear? Unfortunately, it can happen. Here’s how to fix it.

UN Declares 2021-2030 the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”

Human civilization depends on Earth’s rapidly-deteriorating ecosystems, which cleanse our water, purify our air, and regulate our climate. Today, the United Nations General Assembly launched a global effort to restore ecosystems over an area the size of South America.

Six Weeks Left to Comment on Trump Administration Clean Water Rule

For decades, the federal government has protected wetlands and tributaries that flow into rivers, streams, and lakes of the United States. Now President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler have proposed a new rule that would leave more than half the country’s wetlands a chunk of its intermittent streams unprotected. Public commenting ends April 15.

NGOs Pressure UN Aviation Agency on Offsetting Rules

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and will triple by 2050 if current trends continue. Flights between countries, however, aren’t covered by the Paris Climate Agreement, but by the International Civil Aviation Organization. That agency has agreed to cap net emissions at 2020 levels, in part by letting airlines offset emissions above a certain level, with key guidance due this week.

The Paris Agreement is a Ship, and We are Both Oarsmen and Captain

The Paris Agreement confounds those looking for a top-down, one-size-fits all global solution. That’s because it’s a framework within which workable solutions can emerge, and a recent analysis from the Wuppertal Institute offers a simple allegory for explaining that. Think of it, they write, as an old ship coming out of drydock. It’s a work of beauty, but it won’t sail itself.

The New Green Dealers Want us to “Sky Farm”. That’s a Good Thing!

The forests, farms, and fields of the United States mop up a staggering 15 percent of the country’s industrial greenhouse-gas emissions, but this capacity will plunge as the climate changes. That’s why every credible climate solution incorporates nature-based solutions and climate-smart agriculture, but major media still aren’t covering it. Would that change if we called them “sky farming”?

Can UK Build its Restoration Economy on the Principle of “Net Gain”?

Mitigation banking is built on the premise of “no net loss”, which means people who damage nature must fix what they break, usually with the aim of improving more degraded nature than they damage. Ecologist David Hill, however, has turned net gain into a bare minimum rather than an extra. Will it catch on across the UK?

The US is Finally Having the Only Climate Debate That Matters: How to Fix the Mess

The emerging “Green New Deal” seems to offer something for everyone – except climate-science deniers. Criticized by some for being short on details, the proposal actually seems designed to propel solutions that have been languishing for decades – including natural climate solutions, climate-smart agriculture, and support for green infrastructure.

Oregon Poised to Cap Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Oregon state legislature is considering a “cap and invest” bill that promises to place a firm limit on the state’s greenhouse gasses while ensuring continued investments in resilient communities, green jobs and clean energy. Legislators are expected to release bill language by January 31.

Where Do The 2020 Dems Stand On Climate And Carbon Pricing?

Nearly two dozen people have joined the race to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, and all of them – in contrast with their sole Republican counterpart – acknowledge climate science and aim to deal with climate change. In this continuously updating scorecard, we’ll be expanding and clarifying positions as the candidates themselves do.

Yes, We Can End Deforestation And Reverse Climate Change. Here’s How.

It’s been almost a decade since global companies pledged to slow climate change by purging deforestation from their supply chains, and those pledges have led to unprecedented transparency and accountability in the way companies produce, procure, and process key commodities. Leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting have a unique opportunity to kick the process into overdrive. Will they?

UN to Ramp Up Focus on Climate, SDGs in 2019

UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcéhas have both called for dramatically accelerating efforts to slow climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Opinion: Why a World with Abundant Food and Energy Choices Is More Than a Luxury

Natural climate solutions can get us 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target, and farmers are key to implementing those solutions, writes California farmer A. G. Kawamura, who served as the state’s Secretary of Agriculture under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and now co-chairs the nonprofit Solutions from the Land.