This Week In Water: The Water Stewards At The Bottom Of The Pyramid

4 February 2015 | Okay, so 2015 may have started on a low note, as the global impacts of water crises hit number one on the World Economic Forum’s list of global risks in 2015.
But this year holds the promise of real progress as well. In New York this fall, world leaders will decide on post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs set out a roadmap for improving the lives of the poor without, as Circle of Blue puts it, “torching the environmental foundation” of this planet.

In this month’s Water Log, the link between environmental degradation and poverty looms large. We take a look at using microfinance – providing financial services, including loans, to the poor who have historically lacked access to banking or credit – to support payments for ecosystem services (PES). While microfinance models have been hugely successful on a global scale in providing the means for people to escape extreme poverty, they are still rarely used to finance PES. According to Ecosystem Marketplace’sState of Watershed Investment 2014 report, only three active watershed investment projects use some sort of credit mechanism: one in Brazil, one in Costa Rica and one in Nepal. The latter two each use revolving loan funds to finance restoration activities that repair damaged watersheds.

 

Yet micro-lending could in theory deliver additional finance for conservation as well socio-economic benefits for communities.Access to credit also has the potential to attract more investors. The steady cash flow required to attain credit would demonstrate to institutional investors that a watershed restoration project, for instance, is worth backing. So far, tapping microfinance is mostly still an idea. But potential for growth is there, microfinance groups and conservationists agree.

 

Thinking small is also paying off in Bolivia, where where more than 90 per cent of carbon credit revenues under a proposed REDD mechanism were forecast to have gone to just five per cent of the population. Instead, the country has pursued an alternative strategy that focuses on rewarding good behavior – protecting forests and engaging in forest-friendly enterprise – while punishing bad behavior through taxes and fines. This so-called “Bolivian mechanism,” explains Lykke Andersen of the Institute for Advanced Development Studies in Bolivia, results in a “much fairer distribution of the benefits, helping the poor while hurting the big deforesters.”

 

Keep reading to learn more about what’s happening in the watershed investment world in the early days of 2015 – and chins up!

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contactnewsletter@ecosystemmarketplace.com


EM Headlines

GENERAL

The Environmental Mortgage: Connecting The Dots Between Microfinance And Ecosystem Services

All around the world, we see that environmental degradation and poverty go hand in hand as do sustainable land-use and wealth. This link builds a case for using microfinance – providing financial services, including loans, to the poor who have historically lacked access to banking or credit – to support payments for ecosystem services (PES).

 

Yet while microfinance models have been hugely successful on a global scale in providing the means for people to escape extreme poverty, they aren’t often used to finance PES projects that offer many poverty alleviating benefits. Despite it being risky and costly, both sectors see potential in working together on a larger scale.

Keep reading here.

Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right

You don’t have to go far in Bolivia to find treasure. It’s everywhere: in the vast Amazonian forests; in Lake Titicaca, which lies nearly four kilometres above sea level in the Andes; in the peaks and rain-gathering waterways of the Andes mountains; or in Bolivia’s 2,000 animal species.

 

And to call all this treasure is hardly romantic because, to some, Bolivia’s natural environment is worth a lot of money.

 

Bolivia is not alone on that front. Program that pay people to sustainably manage environmental assets= are increasingly popular, especially in the global South. But questions about the money’s impact on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality have persisted for decades. Does the cash help poor or indigenous people living in valuable ecosystems? Or is it more likely to benefit rich landowners? In Bolivia and elsewhere, research is beginning to show that these two goals environmental protection and poverty reduction  need not be mutually exclusive.

Keep reading.

Colorado Shrinks The Risk Of Wildfire With Investments In Watershed Services

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw two fires that together burned 150,000 acres of forestland and dumped 40 years’ worth of sediment into Colorado’s Strontia Springs Reservoir. Strontia Springs is a key source of water. It helps supply the 1.3 million customers of Denver Water, a water provider, with clean water. The cleanup effort from those fires cost Denver $26 million on water quality, restoration, reclamation and sediment drainage beginning in 1996 after the first fire-Buffalo Creek Fire.

 

Fire suppression has made wildfire intensity that much worse. But fire isn’t the only threat Colorado’s watersheds are facing. Bark beetle and flooding plus a changing climate all pose a risk to Colorado’s forests and the water that runs through them.

 

Because of these threats – among others – various Colorado water providers have paid over $13 million in watershed investments and forged partnerships to identify and address problems plaguing the state’s forest ecosystems. These activities were highlighted last month during a webinar that showcased findings from Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest State of Watershed Investmentsreport.

Learn more.

Water, Energy, Food: Nexus Thinking Catches On, But Nexus Spending Lags

Brewing giant MillerCoors recently slashed the amount of water and energy it uses to produce barley for its beer, and it did so without losing yields. How? In part by planting vegetation alongside streams and restoring wetlands, which saved them the cost of filtering water before discharging it

 

They’re hardly alone. All around the world, companies and even cities are learning that the wetlands, dunes and sea grass they once took for granted act as natural buffers against hurricanes, enhance water quality, and save energy and resources that would otherwise be spent to construct and operate gray infrastructure. In the new lingo of resource management, they’re recognizing thewater-energy-food nexus and the important role nature œ and, more specifically, natural infrastructure  plays in this nexus.

 

Unfortunately the success stories are the exception that proves the rule, as investment in green infrastructure to solve nexus challenges often falls short of its potential, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Investment 2014 report. The survey tracks global investment in watershed services (IWS), and it finds investment lagging potential except in those cases that address interrelated issues such as reducing water use and pollution in agriculture or in increasing resilience to flooding and wildfires.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

In The News

POLICY UPDATES

Des Moines Sues Over Nitrates, Wants Drainage Districts Regulated as Point Sources

Des Moines Waters Works notified three neighboring upstream counties that it plans to sue over nitrate pollution from agriculture in the city’s drinking water supplies. If successful, the suit would have enormous consequences. Essentially, Des Moines is arguing that agricultural drainage districts – those pipes and tiles that drain water from fields across much of the Midwest – should be regulated as point sources, just like a sewage treatment plant or factory that discharges polluted water.

 

Some lawyers think that’s a stretch. The Environmental Defense Fund suggested that rather than picking a fight, the city should look to voluntary incentives to address pollution. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said that Des Moines had“declared war on rural Iowa. But Des Moines says it had no choice: voluntary methods aren’t working, and seasonal surges in nitrates concentrations in the city’s drinking water are requiring its utility to spend $4,000 a day on additional treatment.

Get full coverage from Circle of Blue.

New Stormwater Suit Means NRDC, EDF and EPA Are At It Again

Eleven years after suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over their stormwater regulation, two environmental advocacy groups are heading back to court. In 2003, the lawsuit was over strengthening a finalized 1999 rule on regulating stormwater pollution. This time, the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Resources Defense Council are requesting compliance with the 2003 regulations. They’re arguing the EPA continues to fail to regulatestormwater runoff – one of the US’s biggest sources of water pollution – in cities with a population under 100,000. The lawsuit is also pushing for a decision on whether stormwater from forest roads should be regulated – a provision the two organizations claim was covered under the 2003 ruling.

Bloomberg BNA has coverage.

Nearly $2B Is A Lot, But Is It Enough?

Passage of Proposition 1, California’s $7.5B water bond, gives the state the opportunity to rethink and transform its complicated water system, says the deputy director of California’s Water Foundation. Some of that transformation could come in the form of investments in ecosystems like wetlands that filter and store water, and the forests where the bulk of the state’s water originates. While the lion’s share of the funds will flow toward storage projects, $1.9B is allocated for watersheds and flood management – a sum with the potential to help supply long-term water security to an area that badly needs it.

Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

Making the Water Quality Grade Proves Difficult in Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation graded Chesapeake Bay health recently. And while it wasn’t failing, the grade wasn’t good either. The nonprofit gave the Bay a D+ saying bordering states had made progress in terms of water quality but much of the watershed remained heavily polluted. States surrounding the Chesapeake are under a federal mandate to clean up the waterway, and risk losing federal funding if majority of cleanup projects aren’t in place by 2017. Progress on this front is being made, however slow. Virginia’s nutrient trading system, for instance, has received high praise from the federal government and is viewed as a model for other states.

Learn more about the report here.

GLOBAL MARKETS

WQT Finds Itself the Cool Kid in Class

Water quality trading is having a big month. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) just won the US Water Prize for its Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project. Meanwhile, trading is being touted in watersheds across the country as a potential solution to mounting water quality problems: we find reports of interest in a state-wide market in Florida (see next story) and proposed markets in Iowa’s Catfish Creek Watershed, Wisconsin’s Lower Fox River Watershed, and in the Mississippi Gulf region (backed by oil & gas industry concerned about their water risks!).

 

Scaled-Up Trading Proposed to Clean Waterways in the Sunshine State

Water quality trading continues to intrigue Florida as a potential cure to its water pollution problems. While the state has a regional pilot project, officials are contemplating going statewide. They say such a program is cost-effective and can be a shot in the arm for the normally slow and expensive cleanup process. Right now, a statewide program is just an idea: the state is holding workshops, though officials are unsure of how well it will be received. But supporters are finding encouragement in the programs’ success in other states and the fact that many states have ongoing pilot projects. As a lawyer involved in Virginia’s program puts it, “It can be a very elegant solution to a complex problem.”

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

US Environmental Water Markets Estimated at $56M in 2013

A new brief on US environmental water markets from WestWater Research found the environmental sector accounting for 40% of volume and 7% of total value traded in all water markets from 2003-2012. That activity amounted to 6.2M acre-feet and $562M in trading values. Leases continue to make up most of the sector’s volume. As for pricing, the purchase cost has increased consistently with the greater market, although prices dipped during the economic downturn from 2008-2009. And these prices have been declining steadily-by nearly 70% as of 2012. But overall, the market has continued to grow with activity varying with region: the Northwest leads while the Rocky Mountain region lags.

Read the report here.

For Want of $1.8 Billion, The Reef Was Lost

To save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, someone needs to pony up more than $1.3B (AUD$1.8B) according to recent analysis by the resource groups managing the reef catchment. The reef, battered by agricultural pollutants and coral-eating starfish, has lost half its coral cover in recent decades. The funding gap for funding agricultural best management practices, stormwater control, and infrastructure upgrades will exceed $300 million just for the next five years.

 

The report’s authors suggest that current government initiatives are inadequate; although government-funded programs have cut nitrogen loads by 10% and pesticides by 28% since 2008, that may not be enough to meet long-term goals of a 60% reduction in pesticides and 90% compliance with best practice by farmers in the region.

The Guardian has coverage.

The Private Sector Dives Into Colorado Watershed Protection

Communities living along Colorado’s Front Range are receiving help from some major corporations in securing a clean source of water. MillerCoors, Pepsi and the Wells Fargo Foundation are collectively donating $1 million to The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) restoration work in Colorado’s forests. The funds will help TNC build and implement projects designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire – caused primarily by drought and fire suppression – with prescribed burning and fuel treatments among other activities. Restoring the forests that catch snowpack and replenish rivers will increase water security for Colorado folks.

Get coverage here.

Heineken’s Track Record in Sustainability Leaves More Than Beer Drinkers Impressed

Brewery giant Heineken is raising the sustainability bar for big corporations with its water-saving initiatives and commitments to slash carbon emissions. And much of Heineken’s work is happening at a community level. After beer-producing operations left regions water-stressed, the company is implementing water stewardship projects in places like Indonesia, giving back on a local level while also ensuring its own sustainability. Activities include planting bamboo trees in Indonesia to halt erosion and digging narrow troughs full of compost material to slow snowmelt and reduce flooding. The brewery was recently rewarded for its efforts with the Water Management award at the Sustainable Business Awards Singapore 2014.

Eco-Business has the story.

EVENTS

GreenBiz Forum – 10% discount through Ecosystem Marketplace

GreenBiz Forum from February 17th to 19th in Phoenix, Arizona brings together an unprecedented partnership between GreenBiz Group, The Sustainability Consortium and Arizona State University to give attendees an unparalleled in-depth look at the key challenges and opportunities facing sustainable business today. Framed by GreenBiz’s State of Green Business report, the high-wattage stage presentations, workshops and networking opportunities make GreenBiz Forum an unforgettable event. Save 10% with Ecosystem Marketplace’s discount code GBF15EM. 17-19 February 2015. Phoenix AZ, USA.

Learn more here.

Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference

The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and collaborators are hosting the Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference on March 15-17 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The Conference brings together scientists and practitioners working in government, civil society and business, and other stakeholders to focus on how and why the nexus approach can be used on local and international levels. 15-17 March, 2015. Chapel Hill NC, USA.

Learn more here.

2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida is the only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and training as well as important regulatory updates. Proven to be “the” place to gain insights, explore new markets and learn from sessions, the 2015 Conference will continue its focus on educational content both advanced and basic sessions as well as moderated exchanges and a variety of mini workshops that help to connect bankers, regulators, users and others involved in this industry. Pre and post- event workshops include Primer 101, Stream Banking, Long-Term Stewardship, Financing & Valuation and more. Hear perspectives from bankers, regulators and users, get updated on regulations, legislation and legal challenges, participate in field trips and benefit from the many opportunities to network! With a high attendance this past year, we anticipate a record attendance in Orlando and encourage you to make plans to submit to present, attend, even sponsor or exhibit! Orlando FL, USA. 5-8 May 2015.

Learn more here.

Colorado Shrinks The Risk Of Wildfire With Investments In Watershed Services

21 January 2015 | Water flowing from Colorado watersheds are critical to many US states. Snowmelt sliding down the Rocky Mountains feeds rivers like the Colorado and Arkansas that supplies western states with a water source. But the catastrophic wildfire that has been tearing through the southwestern state in an increasingly more violent way puts the headwaters of these waterways in jeopardy.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw two fires that together burned 150,000 acres of forestland and dumped 40 years’ worth of sediment into the Strontia Springs Reservoir. Strontia Springs is a key source of water. It helps supply the 1.3 million customers of Denver Water, a water provider, with clean water. The cleanup effort from those fires cost Denver $26 million on water quality, restoration, reclamation and sediment drainage beginning in 1996 after the first fire-Buffalo Creek Fire.

Fire suppression has made wildfire intensity that much worse. But fire isn’t the only threat Colorado’s watersheds are facing. Bark beetle and flooding plus a changing climate all pose a risk to Colorado’s forests and the water that runs through them.

Because of these threats-among others-various Colorado water providers have paid over $13 million in watershed investments and forged partnerships to identify and address problems plaguing the state’s forest ecosystems. These activities were highlighted last month during a webinar that showcased findings from Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest State of Watershed Investments report.

‘Prevent another Strontia Springs’ become a rallying cry for Colorado residents pressing for proactive forest and watershed management.

“It was a wake-up call for Denver that they needed to be in the watershed business, not just the water storage and delivery business,” says Heidi Huber-Stearns, a PhD candidate in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University and also the presenter on Colorado during last month’s webinar.

The upstream watersheds of important waterways like the Colorado and Arkansas rivers fall primarily on land controlled by federal agencies like the Forest Service and the National Park Service. So in 2010 Denver Water partnered with the US Forest Service to address key challenges that included reducing wildfire and minimizing current erosion and reservoir sedimentation. To date, the Colorado water provider has paid the Forest Service $11 million to address these issues through forest thinning or fuel treatments, prescribed burning and erosion control.

Denver’s program is famous and has received national and international attention as a model to be adopted in other states and regions struggling with similar issues. It, along with more wildfire damage, influenced four other such partnerships to occur in Colorado. Aurora Water’s collaboration with the US Forest Service was the first in 2011. Aurora Water is a major water provider in the Colorado Front Range.

And after the record-setting High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires in 2012, water provider Northern Water, initiated the Colorado-Big Thompson Project together with the Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service and the Colorado Forest Service. The project restores forest and watershed health while also maintaining the hydropower facilities located in the Big Thompson reservoir.

The Waldo Canyon Fire was a deciding factor for another water company as well. After dealing with the aftermath of that fire along with another harrowing blaze the following year- the Black Forest Fire, which topped the Waldo Canyon Fire as the most destructive fire in Colorado history-the Colorado Springs Utilities partnered with the US Forest Service in 2013 following a similar model. Also in 2013, the Pueblo Board of Water Works forged a partnership with the same federal agency over wildfire risk and forest and watershed health.

Combined, investments in these programs led to some 21,000 acres of land undergoing fuel treatments to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. These programs are relatively new, however, and how they will play out remains an open question.

But Huber-Stearns says they have made a lot of progress already. “The collaboration, planning and work that’s been done on the ground so far have really been invaluable in addressing current risks that we face as well as what we anticipate we’ll face with the changing climate.”

Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right

27 January 2015 | You don’t have to go far in Bolivia to find treasure. It’s everywhere: in the vast Amazonian forests; in Lake Titicaca, which lies nearly four kilometres above sea level in the Andes; in the peaks and rain-gathering waterways of the Andes mountains; or in Bolivia’s 2,000 animal species.

And to call all this treasure is hardly romantic because, to some, Bolivia’s natural environment is worth a lot of money.

Bolivia is not alone on that front. Programmes that pay people to sustainably manage environmental assets are increasingly popular, especially in the global South. But questions about the money’s impact on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality have persisted for decades. Does the cash help poor or indigenous people living in valuable ecosystems? Or is it more likely to benefit rich landowners? In Bolivia and elsewhere, research is beginning to show that these two goals environmental protection and poverty reduction need not be mutually exclusive.

Pricing up nature

A recent estimate of the planet’s natural capital is US$125 trillion a year. [1] This figure attempts to capture the value of the ecosystem services essentially all the benefits of a healthy, natural environment provided by such things as carbon-storing trees, drainage basins that prevent flooding and insect life that helps agriculture flourish.

Natural capital is a controversial concept. Many feel putting a price on nature is either impossible or ethically unsound. But its supporters argue that without doing so ecosystem services are at risk of being left out of economic models and decision-making.

“We’re degrading the natural environment and losing species at an alarming rate. So let’s put a value on nature and get it incorporated into these models so that we can start investing in the maintenance, protection or possibly even enhancement of those ecosystem services, says Darren Evans, a conservation biologist from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

Programmes to quantify and pay to maintain the value of ecosystem services have existed in one form or another since the 1950s. Today they are known as payments for ecosystem services (PES) initiatives. These schemes pay farmers and landowners for managing land in a way that conserves some targeted environmental resources, for instance a forest, river or species.

But for as long as they have existed, efforts to price nature have been divisive. What has emerged, however, is evidence that the better a scheme is tailored to benefit all stakeholders, the more likely it is to succeed.

Bolivian dissent

One country involved in this battle and its possible resolution is Bolivia. In 2010, the nation hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, a global meeting attended by 30,000 government and civil society delegates. Bolivia consulted the conference on whether to sign up to the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

REDD has some similarities to a PES scheme, but it operates at a global rather than a national scale. It is funded by selling certificates known as carbon credits, which represent carbon emissions saved through the programme, on international carbon markets. At present, 56 developing nations have signed up to the programme, but Bolivia decided against joining after the People’s Agreement drawn up by the World People’s Conference emphatically rejected this move. [2] Later in 2010, President Evo Morales further hardened his nation’s position in an open letter to indigenous peoples entitled: “Nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale. [3]

Lykke Andersen, director of the Center for Environmental-Economic Modelling and Analysis at think-tank the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) in Bolivia, says: “Bolivia is really an ideal candidate for participating in a REDD mechanism. It is promising because it has so much forest and so much deforestation. But at the Peoples Conference, the people there rejected REDD strongly. The government accepted that decision and made it a national policy.

Bolivias opposition to REDD illustrates tensions that can cause schemes that put a price on nature to come unstuck, Andersen says. In the case of REDD, the unhappiness was triggered partly because poorer countries would have to reduce emissions while richer countries carried on raising theirs.

Alternative inspiration

With REDD branded a prohibited concept in Bolivia, Andersen says the country’s conservation scientists instead turned for inspiration to smaller, local PES schemes that took poverty alleviation into account.

In 2012, INESAD carried out a countrywide analysis of the likely social and environmental impacts if Bolivia had adopted REDD. [4] The results showed that large-scale adoption of REDD would have decreased deforestation, but would also have increased competition for agricultural land, pushing up food prices and worsening poverty. More than 90 per cent of REDD-related revenues from carbon credit sales would have gone to just five per cent of the population, it forecast.

INESAD also ran the analysis based on an alternative mechanism that Anderson and her team designed. This included financial and technical assistance for sustainable development projects within the forest  and taxes and fines for deforestation. Under this theoretical situation their model showed that the nation’s poor benefitted more and food prices were more stable.

The mechanism Anderson’s team designed has come to be known as the Bolivian mechanism. [5] In 2013, UN-REDD decided to support it with US$1.1 million and Denmark pledged US$26 million. Four pilot projects testing it are currently underway.
“The Bolivian mechanism is based on looking more holistically at forests, by supporting local communities who protect their forests and engage in economic activities that are forest-friendly, while punishing deforesters with taxes and fines, Andersen explains.

“What we showed in the analysis is that the benefits of the REDD mechanism almost exclusively went to the side of reducing emissions, with very little benefit for the people of Bolivia, the rural inhabitants who would have to modify their livelihoods, she says. “With the Bolivian mechanism, there was a much fairer distribution of the benefits, helping the poor while hurting the big deforesters.

Reward and punishment

Unlike REDD, which lacks punitive elements, the Bolivian mechanism goes further than simply paying landowners not to cut down trees which Andersen tartly likens to paying a thief not to steal by also rewarding activities that protect the country’s forests. “It’s a much more healthy system of incentives where you reward the behaviour that you want to see and punish the behaviour that you don’t want to see, she says.

Those most likely to be punished under the system are wealthy agricultural producers, while those most likely to receive payments are poorer Bolivians living and working in forest areas. And the mechanism also aims to make payments to poorer communities more straightforward by requiring legal evidence of land ownership only when levying fines and taxes, rather than when managing payments. This is vital for equity and wealth redistribution as many people that live on the land do not have legal proof of ownership, despite it unequivocally being their home.

Rejecting REDD means losing access to a larger potential pot of funding, but Andersen argues that financing the Bolivian mechanism through foreign aid offers greater stability than relying on volatile carbon markets. Nonetheless, she acknowledges that securing ongoing funding is the mechanism’s biggest challenge.

Paul van Gardingen, director of UK research programme Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation, agrees that PES schemes must be well designed to equitably reward both the poor and wealthy for activities that protect the environment.

“There’s absolutely no question that PES can work, he adds. “But one of the challenges is how you link that up to poverty alleviation.

The problem of land ownership

Land tenure has been a persistent stumbling block for PES, with the worst cases reinforcing rather than alleviating inequalities. This is because many older or poorly designed PES schemes require proof of land ownership, something often only the wealthy have, for payment. Land ownership is often unclear, especially in countries with indigenous or remote rural communities.

But Ina Porras, an economist at UK-based policy research organisation the International Institute for Environment and Development, says there may be better ways of framing a PES programme than by using property rights and land ownership.

Even introducing such a system within a developed country would benefit big landowners most due to land ownership being concentrated among the rich, Porras says. “So we need to think carefully about how benefits are applied.

Costa Rica offers an interesting model in this regard. There, a national PES scheme has been a success since it started in 1997. It has helped raise the country’s forested land cover from a low of 20 per cent in the 1980s to over 50 per cent in 2012. It works by providing contracts to landowners for different types of forest conservation: protection, reforestation, sustainable management and regeneration.

Funding allocations for indigenous associations have also risen steadily, from three to 26 per cent between 1997 and 2012. This was partly due to ongoing redesigns of contract procedures: in 1997, the scheme did not prioritise different social groups on the basis of economic need, resulting in low uptake for indigenous groups with little money; in 2012, however, they were being allocated a set amount of contracts before others could bid.

While the principle of setting aside some contracts for indigenous groups resolves some problems around land tenure, the persistent challenges of fair access to the programme and equitable distribution of benefits still require further analysis, says Porras.

She is studying participation in the Costa Rican programme. In 1997, 44 per cent of funds were paid to cooperatives and associations, but these types of organisations had virtually ceased receiving money by 2012. Meanwhile, payments going to legal entities such as businesses or other legally registered groups have risen from just over a quarter to almost half of total payouts. Understanding these shifts is key to designing PES schemes and ensuring they work for both communities and conservation over the long term.

Looking at the studies by INESAD and Porras, it apparent that there is a need to understand the risk of a PES scheme exacerbating social inequality at the expense of environmental protection, and to design it accordingly.

Van Gardingen says there is now an emerging understanding that “if you are serious about using PES as a method to deliver poverty alleviation then you need to be thinking about the efficiency of the environmental benefits, the efficiency of the social benefits, accept that there’s going to be a trade-off and find the appropriate balance.

This Week In Forest Carbon: Indigenous REDD Explored

21 January 2015  Seen from above, the indigenous territories in the Amazon’s “Arc of Deforestation” appear as solid green islands amid a sea of grey-green degradation. This bird’s eye view corroborates the studies that say indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forest. But like all maps, they show just a snapshot in time.

 

The reality is that these carbon-storing oases face daily threats, and indigenous peoples are not homogenous in their strategies for facing them. A ride down Brazil’s Highway 364 reveals three distinct approaches by neighboring groups:

 

First, the Zor³. Though their territory along the border of the Brazilian states of Rond´nia and Mato Grosso has achieved lower rates of forest degradation than their non-indigenous neighbors, the Zor³ are actively logging their old growth teak and mahogany forests. The wood travels down Highway 364, destined for luxury furniture showrooms across Brazil and the world and only a tiny percentage of the profit flows back to the Zor³.

 

Down the road, the Paiter-Surui once logged their forests just as aggressively as the Zor³, but that has changed over the past five years as the Paiter-Surui harnessed carbon finance to help implement their “Life Plan” for forest preservation. In June 2013, they struck their first deal to receive payments for carbon offsets with Natura Cosm©ticos, a Brazilian cosmetics company.

 

Highway 364 also passes briefly through the southern tip of the Igarap© Lourdes territory, home to members of the Gavio and Arara people who have never succumbed to the economic pressure to deforest. Ironically, this creates a bit of a Catch-22: REDD financing typically flows on the premise of saving forests from imminent destruction, and it is difficult for communities with very low historical deforestation rates to prove the threat.

 

Jurisdictional REDD, in which an entire state gets paid for reducing deforestation, may offer a solution. Acre, a tiny state to the west of Rond´nia, has pioneered this approach and in 2013 secured a four-year, $40 million agreement from the German development bank KfW to avoid eight million tonnes of emissions the first-ever REDD payment at the jurisdictional level. Discussions about creating a state-wide REDD system in Rond´nia have already started.

 

But indigenous peoples are also exploring other potential sources of funding to keep forests standing. One possibility: state-level ecological taxes that allow local governments to access a refunded portion of the value-added tax collected in their states based on the amount of forest cover and water resources protected. To date, at least 24 Brazilian states already have or are debating legislation related to this “green” tax.

 

Another possibility is Indigenous REDD+ (known as “RIA”) which would take a jurisdictional approach to reducing deforestation and implementing indigenous Life Plans, but outside of carbon markets. Ecosystem Marketplace will soon follow with the next installment of our Indigenous REDD+ series.

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

Winter is (not?) coming

Though the United Nations negotiations around land use and climate change have primarily focused on tropical forest loss, 19% of the world’s forests (by surface area) are located in Russia, storing between 300 and 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). However, a new study has warned this absorption capacity could drop to zero by the mid-2040s. As “Siberian” winters with minus 20-degree-Celsius temperatures become rare, pests that are usually killed off are multiplying. Russia has yet to clarify whether forests are included in its emissions reduction target for 2020, but the country’s lead climate negotiator, Oleg Shamanov, has advocated for inclusion of boreal forests in the future climate agreement.

 

NATIONAL STRATEGY & CAPACITY

A shorter life expectancy

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar announced plans to merge the ministry with the National Reducing Emissions from Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+), the first country-level REDD+ agency. Under this scenario, BP REDD+ would be absorbed by the yet-to-be-formed climate change mitigation directorate. Despite the announcement, BP REDD+ head Heru Pratseyo went forward with announcing plans for the coming year, including monitoring the forests permits moratorium, continuing the one-map program, and working towards recognizing indigenous land rights. “We will continue to work in 2015 and we want paradigm shift. It is not that the agency needs to continue forever, but the paradigm shift needs to be there,” Pratseyo told The Jakarta Post.

 

The Brazil chain saw massacre

After being elected for a second term as Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff has now appointed two people to top positions that environmentalists are less than pleased about. Katia Abreu, nicknamed “chainsaw queen” for her call for more roads through the Amazon and her past role in weakening Brazil’s forest code, will be the country’s new agricultural minister. Aldo Rebelo, a climate change denier, will be the new science minister. The appointment “completely unnecessarily makes Brazil look really provincial and silly on the world stage,” wrote Steve Schwartzman, Director of the Tropical Forest Alliance at the Environmental Defense Fund, in a recent op-ed.

 

Offsets off the table

Though at least two states Georgia and Kentucky have expressed interest in using carbon offsets from forest projects to meet their obligations under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new carbon regulations for power plants, the EPA probably won’t allow it. “While states have significant flexibility in the development of plans to comply with the rule, their plans must include measures that reduce CO2 emissions from affected sources: power plants,” a statement from the agency said. Though the EPA has paid attention to state or regional-level cap-and-trade programs as a potential mechanism for meeting the regulation, they have specified that states must hit federal targets without the use of offsets.

 

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Sweet home Carolina

An Improved Forest Management project covering more than 4,000 acres in coastal South Carolina has been issued more than 160,000 compliance-grade carbon offsets under California’s cap-and-trade program the first project in the Southeast to be issued offsets by California’s Air Resources Board (ARB). Developed by North Carolina-based Green Assets, the project includes the forestlands of Brookgreen Gardens, a working woodland that includes a famous sculpture garden. “We are proud to be early participants in the new carbon economy,” said Bob Jewell, Brookgreen’s President and CEO. Green Assets is currently developing several forest carbon projects for the California market, including the Middleton Place project in South Carolina.

 

The projects of champions

Project developer Finite Carbon registered two new compliance forestry projects with ARB on behalf of timberland investment management organization The Forestland Group: the Champion project in New York’s Adirondack Mountains and the Connecticut Lakes project in northern New Hampshire. The Champion project was previously registered with the Climate Action Reserve and received more than 136,000 compliance-grade offsets when it transitioned to the ARB. The Connecticut Lakes project is registered with the American Carbon Registry and was developed specifically for compliance. It received more than 1.1 million offsets upon registration. Together, the projects generated nearly $12 million in offset revenue for The Forestland Group.

 

FINANCE & ECONOMICS

Promises to keep

Developed countries have pledged over $7.3 billion to support REDD+ Readiness by 2015, but information on how much funding has reached the ground is still hard to come by. Forest Trends’REDDX initiative is aiming to change that by working with country partners to map REDD+ financial flows. Just released, the first installment of this data tracks REDD+ finance in seven pilot countries between 2009 and 2012, finding that about a third of the $1.2 billion committed in this time period was disbursed. Though most REDD+ finance (78%) came from bilateral government donors chiefly Norway and Germany between 2009 and 2012, multilateral funding and domestic contributions are ramping up. REDDX currently operates in 14 countries, and more data is forthcoming.

 

HUMAN DIMENSION

A point of carbon clarification

Some village and clan leaders have called for a review of the Surui Fund, a governance apparatus developed to manage community finance, including funds from the Surui’s forest carbon project. Income from the sale of carbon offsets flowed quickly into the community in early 2014, but slowed as the year progressed. Signatories of a “letter of clarification” to the Federal Public Ministry say that though the Surui Fund’s manual describes a participatory, decentralized process, the reality has been more concentrated power. Some community members have continued logging in the protected territory as a means of survival because “legal and bureaucratic obstacles delayed the availability of financial resources,” they wrote.

 

STANDARDS & METHODOLOGIES

Sliding scales

The Verified Carbon Standard announced changes to its fee structure. These include a sliding scale on the issuance levy for Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) to accommodate emerging jurisdictional governments and projects capable of reducing millions of tonnes of emissions annually. Projects issuing less than one million VCUs will still pay 10 cents per VCU, but those issuing one, two, or four million VCUs at a time will be charged reduced fees. Other changes include a registration fee for new projects (effective July 1, 2015) and changes to the methodology approval process.

 

The rice is still simmering

California once again delayed the potential adoption of a new offset protocol for rice cultivation projects that reduce methane emissions. ARB officials project potential offset supply under the new protocol in the range of 500,000 and 3,000,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions through 2020 the scheduled end date for California’s cap-and-trade program. Stakeholders widely praised the ARB’s efforts to include forestry projects located in Alaska in the program, but objected to several proposed technical updates to the forestry protocol, including planned changes to standards for even-aged management of forest stocks. California regulators also took some flak for the market uncertainty created by their recent invalidation of ozone-depleting substances offsets.

 

SCIECNE & TECHNOLOGY

Ain’t nothing but a gold digger

The rising demand for gold has spurred mining activities that caused around 1,680 square kilometers of tropical deforestation in South America between 2001 and 2013, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico, published in Environmental Research Letters. The study used a geographical database of newly developed mines to show that forest loss due to gold mining has been concentrated in four regions. “Although the loss of forest due to mining is smaller in extent compared to deforestation caused by other land uses, such as agriculture or grazing areas, deforestation due to mining is occurring in some of the most biologically diverse regions in the tropics,” said Nora lvarez-Berr­os, the lead author of the research.

 

Put charcoal in that Christmas stocking

For REDD+ to be effective in Zambia and neighboring African countries, the emissions associated with charcoal production for which people chop trees near their homes need to be calculated. But typical forestry tools may not work, according to the Center of International Forestry Research. Remote sensing is difficult in southern Africa because agricultural lands and dry forests look similar from the air. There is a licensing system for charcoal producers, but many people produce without a license. Drones could one day be used to collect better data, but for now, careful monitoring at a small scale is the best way to get accurate information, says David Gumbo, a Zambia-based scientist.

PUBLICATIONS

Little book in the big REDD sea

What steps have countries taken to prepare their legal frameworks for REDD+? The Little Book of Legal Frameworks for REDD+ has the answers. Published by the Global Canopy Programme this (literally) little book offers a crash course on the key elements of a legal framework including policies, regulations, statutory law, and customary law and how domestic actions line up with international requirements. The book finds that there is often a choice between relying on policy or taking the additional step of developing legislation, but the right path can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.

 

JOBS

Carbon Research Assistant 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.

Read more about the position here

 

AIME Program Manager Forest Trends

Based in Washington D.C., the Accelerating Inclusion and Mitigating Emissions (AIME) Program Manager will oversee a 5-year, $13 million program that seeks to build capacity of indigenous peoples and other forest-based communities to improve the governance of their territories and forests while designing REDD+ compatible Life Plans. The program operates in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. The Program Manager will be responsible for managing compliance with US Agency for International Development cooperative agreement requirements, providing logistical support for program meetings, and overseeing the program budget.

Read more about the position here

 

Vice President, Forest Carbon Projects Blue Source

Based in Utah, the Vice President of Forest Carbon Projects will work closely with the Blue Source forestry teams based in San Francisco and Salt Lake City to identify and contract new forest carbon projects. The position requires leading business development and outreach to forest landowners, negotiating landowner contracts, and supporting analysis of management plans and projection of timber and carbon revenue. The successful candidate will have a Bachelor’s or graduate degree in forestry, a personal network of forest owners, a proven track record of business development, and at least five years of experience in forest property and timber sales.

Read more about the position here

 

Forest and Climate Change Consultant – “sterreichische Bundesforste AG

Based in Pummergasse, Austria, the Forest and Climate Change Consultant will work with the international consulting department of Austrian Federal Forests to acquire projects, network with partners, and carry out short- and medium-term consultancy missions. The successful candidate will have a university degree in forestry or a related discipline and at least three years of post-graduate work experience. Familiarity with international policy negotiations related to REDD+ is a plus, as are technical skills in conducting terrestrial forest inventories through remote sensing.

Read more about the position here

 

Staff Auditor Rainforest Alliance (RA)

Based in New York, the Staff Auditor II will conduct carbon certification audits for RA-Cert’s Carbon Services, including audit scheduling, on-site visits, and report writing. Successful candidates will have a Master’s degree in forestry, ecology, or natural resource management and a minimum of four years of field work experience in forest management, geospatial analyses, forest carbon project development or a related field.

Read more about the position here

ABOUT THE FOREST CARBON PORTALThe 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.

Women Key to Scaling Adoption Of Clean Cooking Solutions

5 January 2015 |When EcoZoom began designing its first cookstove, it wanted to include women from the start. “It was common sense for us, explains Amanda West, the co-founder and Chief Communications Officer at EcoZoom. “The cornerstone of our business is our product, and if we don’t have a product women want to use, the whole business was going to crumble anyway.

To make a product that women will use, the company involved them throughout the design process. “It was over 230 participants in the whole design process, she says. “Then we came out with this awesome charcoal stove that women are in love with.

The design went on to win Gold in the International Design Excellence Awards earlier this year, and now EcoZoom wants to integrate gender inclusion throughout the rest of their supply chain. However, they’ve found that including women isn’t always as simple as stakeholder consultations.

That’s where the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves comes in. EcoZoom is one of 6 Spark grant recipients, and the Alliance is helping them develop data that more clearly identifies the users by gender. In addition to working with individual companies, the Alliance also works to collect sex-disaggregated data at the sector-wide scale beginning with the organization’s newly-released 2013 Results Report.

The report was informed by a survey that asked all respondents about their gender strategies, as well as for data that breaks down users by gender when available. While over three-quarters of partners reported having a gender-focused strategy, challenges remain to appropriately address gender issues in the clean cookstoves and fuels sector. Most organizations (35%) cited funding as a key barrier to further implementation. Other commonly-cited issues include internal capacity, capacity of partners, ability to scale, and the ultimate sustainability of such operations.

The Alliance hopes to address these challenges head-on, since increased knowledge from data and case studies could help cookstoves activities around the world become more effective.

As a case in point, another Spark grantee, Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE), could have benefitted from adapting EcoZoom’s design process. A 2014 recipient of the prestigious Ashden Awards in 2014, SGFE still scored low on gender in their SPARK Fund application. The primary reason cited? Because SGFE didn’t disaggregate their data by gender, and didn’t address gender concerns throughout the supply chain.

“Now we start to include them [women], explains Carlo Fig  Talamanca, SGFE’s CEO. “Not just because we want to do good, but because it will also help us do better business.”

Talamanca already knew that women were integral to his supply chain. They were the majority of owners in retail shops, and restaurants that made bulk orders from his company employed many women. He had also found that women SGFE hired were more reliable than their male counterparts, even if they weren’t able to provide heavy manual labor.

However, he didn’t have an established strategy for including women his actions were primarily reactive, not proactive. In particular, problems started when he hired a female accountant and an administrative manager earlier this year. Talamanca explains that while the men weren’t overt in their disrespect toward the new hires, their subtle actions that had a big impact sometimes they might ignore what she said or be mildly rude in a response to her.

“I got really upset, Talamanca said. “I said anyone who is really impolite not just to women or to management, but to each other in general then they get a monetary fine. This they understand, because we enforce it.

Talamanca welcomed support from Els Rijke, the gender expert sent by the Alliance as part of the Spark Fund. The expert walked through every aspect of SGFE’s supply chain and created a gender action plan based off of the Alliances best practices guidebook,Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment.

“She doesn’t have a magic wand, he explained to me over the phone. Instead, the expert would ask questions about practices or actions that were taken for granted and try to figure out the cultural reasons behind them. In some cases, problems were only tangentially gender-related and more overtly poverty-related.

Many of Talamanca’s employees come from poor waste-picker communities. Though they receive higher wages from SGFE than from many others jobs available, the women usually more responsible employees by showing up on time and working harder sometimes skip days.

Upon further questioning through a series of interviews, they found that this is because the majority of workers are indebted. The women are more often the ones who take out loans and repay debts (though their husbands often spend the money). They would skip days to work another job or try to find cash to pay off their debts.

After these interviews, Talamanca and Rijke worked to create a matrix of possible solutions and ranked them by long-term effectiveness and risk reduced. As a next step, Talamanca will review these suggestions to decide the next course of action.

He plans to address the lending issue immediately. Starting in November, Talamanca will pay salaries through a micro-finance institution instead of in cash. The bank account has multiple benefits: it reduces risk of theft both at the factory and at the employees houses, as well as encouraging savings.

A third benefit, as yet untested, is the opportunity for low interest loans. SGFE will back a few employee loans, so workers can benefit from reduced interest rates instead of going to money lenders. If the first test cases go well, Talamanca hopes to expand the backing to all employees that meet certain conditions (such as seniority or demonstrated reliability).

Back in Kenya, West of EcoZoom will also be deciding next steps. Asked what the most important take-away was from these consultations, she replied that with gender, it’s really important to think about your strategy for engaging men as well as women.

As EcoZoom looks to expand into manufacturing activities, they want to include women throughout the process. However, going into a community with high unemployment and only offering jobs to women may create additional problems for them at home.

West added, “Some organizations have tried to recruit women as sales agents¦ but then found that they were building all this income for women, but when she would bring it home the man would just take it. Because the man didn’t have any education about reinvesting money in the business, this short-term view hurt women entrepreneur’s ability to be successful.

“If you don’t look at it holistically, you don’t create the solution you set out to create. You’re really affecting a family and a household.

Putting A Price On Nature Can Benefit The Poor If Done Right

27 January 2015 | You don’t have to go far in Bolivia to find treasure. It’s everywhere: in the vast Amazonian forests; in Lake Titicaca, which lies nearly four kilometres above sea level in the Andes; in the peaks and rain-gathering waterways of the Andes mountains; or in Bolivia’s 2,000 animal species.

And to call all this treasure is hardly romantic — because, to some, Bolivia’s natural environment is worth a lot of money.

Bolivia is not alone on that front. Programmes that pay people to sustainably manage ‘environmental assets’ are increasingly popular, especially in the global South. But questions about the money’s impact on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality have persisted for decades. Does the cash help poor or indigenous people living in valuable ecosystems? Or is it more likely to benefit rich landowners? In Bolivia and elsewhere, research is beginning to show that these two goals — environmental protection and poverty reduction — need not be mutually exclusive.

Pricing up nature

A recent estimate of the planet’s ‘natural capital’ is US$125 trillion a year. [1] This figure attempts to capture the value of the ‘ecosystem services’ — essentially all the benefits of a healthy, natural environment — provided by such things as carbon-storing trees, drainage basins that prevent flooding and insect life that helps agriculture flourish.

Natural capital is a controversial concept. Many feel putting a price on nature is either impossible or ethically unsound. But its supporters argue that without doing so ecosystem services are at risk of being left out of economic models and decision-making.

“We’re degrading the natural environment and losing species at an alarming rate. So let’s put a value on nature and get it incorporated into these models so that we can start investing in the maintenance, protection or possibly even enhancement of those ecosystem services,” says Darren Evans, a conservation biologist from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

Programmes to quantify and pay to maintain the value of ecosystem services have existed in one form or another since the 1950s. Today they are known as payments for ecosystem services (PES) initiatives. These schemes pay farmers and landowners for managing land in a way that conserves some targeted environmental resources, for instance a forest, river or species.

But for as long as they have existed, efforts to price nature have been divisive. What has emerged, however, is evidence that the better a scheme is tailored to benefit all stakeholders, the more likely it is to succeed.

Bolivian dissent

One country involved in this battle — and its possible resolution — is Bolivia. In 2010, the nation hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, a global meeting attended by 30,000 government and civil society delegates. Bolivia consulted the conference on whether to sign up to the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

REDD has some similarities to a PES scheme, but it operates at a global rather than a national scale. It is funded by selling certificates known as ‘carbon credits’, which represent carbon emissions saved through the programme, on international carbon markets. At present, 56 developing nations have signed up to the programme, but Bolivia decided against joining after the ‘People’s Agreement’ drawn up by the World People’s Conference emphatically rejected this move. [2] Later in 2010, President Evo Morales further hardened his nation’s position in an open letter to indigenous peoples entitled: “Nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.” [3]

Lykke Andersen, director of the Center for Environmental-Economic Modelling and Analysis at think-tank the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) in Bolivia, says: “Bolivia is really an ideal candidate for participating in a REDD mechanism. It is promising because it has so much forest and so much deforestation. But at the People’s Conference, the people there rejected REDD strongly. The government accepted that decision and made it a national policy.”

Bolivia’s opposition to REDD illustrates tensions that can cause schemes that put a price on nature to come unstuck, Andersen says. In the case of REDD, the unhappiness was triggered partly because poorer countries would have to reduce emissions while richer countries carried on raising theirs.

Alternative inspiration

With REDD branded a prohibited concept in Bolivia, Andersen says the country’s conservation scientists instead turned for inspiration to smaller, local PES schemes that took poverty alleviation into account.

In 2012, INESAD carried out a countrywide analysis of the likely social and environmental impacts if Bolivia had adopted REDD. [4] The results showed that large-scale adoption of REDD would have decreased deforestation, but would also have increased competition for agricultural land, pushing up food prices and worsening poverty. More than 90 per cent of REDD-related revenues from carbon credit sales would have gone to just five per cent of the population, it forecast.

INESAD also ran the analysis based on an alternative mechanism that Anderson and her team designed. This included financial and technical assistance for sustainable development projects within the forest — and taxes and fines for deforestation. Under this theoretical situation their model showed that the nation’s poor benefitted more and food prices were more stable.

The mechanism Anderson’s team designed has come to be known as the ‘Bolivian mechanism’. [5] In 2013, UN-REDD decided to support it with US$1.1 million and Denmark pledged US$26 million. Four pilot projects testing it are currently underway.
“The Bolivian mechanism is based on looking more holistically at forests, by supporting local communities who protect their forests and engage in economic activities that are forest-friendly, while punishing deforesters with taxes and fines,” Andersen explains.

“What we showed in the analysis is that the benefits of the REDD mechanism almost exclusively went to the side of reducing emissions, with very little benefit for the people of Bolivia, the rural inhabitants who would have to modify their livelihoods,” she says. “With the Bolivian mechanism, there was a much fairer distribution of the benefits, helping the poor while hurting the big deforesters.”

Reward and punishment

Unlike REDD, which lacks punitive elements, the Bolivian mechanism goes further than simply paying landowners not to cut down trees — which Andersen tartly likens to paying a thief not to steal — by also rewarding activities that protect the country’s forests. “It’s a much more healthy system of incentives where you reward the behaviour that you want to see and punish the behaviour that you don’t want to see,” she says.

Those most likely to be punished under the system are wealthy agricultural producers, while those most likely to receive payments are poorer Bolivians living and working in forest areas. And the mechanism also aims to make payments to poorer communities more straightforward by requiring legal evidence of land ownership only when levying fines and taxes, rather than when managing payments. This is vital for equity and wealth redistribution as many people that live on the land do not have legal proof of ownership, despite it unequivocally being their home.

Rejecting REDD means losing access to a larger potential pot of funding, but Andersen argues that financing the Bolivian mechanism through foreign aid offers greater stability than relying on volatile carbon markets. Nonetheless, she acknowledges that securing ongoing funding is the mechanism’s biggest challenge.

Paul van Gardingen, director of UK research programme Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation, agrees that PES schemes must be well designed to equitably reward both the poor and wealthy for activities that protect the environment.

“There’s absolutely no question that PES can work,” he adds. “But one of the challenges is how you link that up to poverty alleviation.”

The problem of land ownership

Land tenure has been a persistent stumbling block for PES, with the worst cases reinforcing rather than alleviating inequalities. This is because many older or poorly designed PES schemes require proof of land ownership, something often only the wealthy have, for payment. Land ownership is often unclear, especially in countries with indigenous or remote rural communities.

But Ina Porras, an economist at UK-based policy research organisation the International Institute for Environment and Development, says there may be better ways of framing a PES programme than by using property rights and land ownership.

Even introducing such a system within a developed country would benefit big landowners most due to land ownership being concentrated among the rich, Porras says. “So we need to think carefully about how benefits are applied.”

Costa Rica offers an interesting model in this regard. There, a national PES scheme has been a success since it started in 1997. It has helped raise the country’s forested land cover from a low of 20 per cent in the 1980s to over 50 per cent in 2012. It works by providing contracts to landowners for different types of forest conservation: protection, reforestation, sustainable management and regeneration.

Funding allocations for indigenous associations have also risen steadily, from three to 26 per cent between 1997 and 2012. This was partly due to ongoing redesigns of contract procedures: in 1997, the scheme did not prioritise different social groups on the basis of economic need, resulting in low uptake for indigenous groups with little money; in 2012, however, they were being allocated a set amount of contracts before others could bid.

While the principle of setting aside some contracts for indigenous groups resolves some problems around land tenure, the persistent challenges of fair access to the programme and equitable distribution of benefits still require further analysis, says Porras.

She is studying participation in the Costa Rican programme. In 1997, 44 per cent of funds were paid to cooperatives and associations, but these types of organisations had virtually ceased receiving money by 2012. Meanwhile, payments going to ‘legal entities’ such as businesses or other legally registered groups have risen from just over a quarter to almost half of total payouts. Understanding these shifts is key to designing PES schemes and ensuring they work for both communities and conservation over the long term.

Looking at the studies by INESAD and Porras, it apparent that there is a need to understand the risk of a PES scheme exacerbating social inequality at the expense of environmental protection, and to design it accordingly.

Van Gardingen says there is now an emerging understanding that “if you are serious about using PES as a method to deliver poverty alleviation then you need to be thinking about the efficiency of the environmental benefits, the efficiency of the social benefits, accept that there’s going to be a trade-off and find the appropriate balance”.

Paiter-Surui Take Stock Of Community Fund Charged With Managing Finances

17 January 2015 | One month after an opposition leader of the Paiter-Surui indigenous people sparked an uncharacteristically public debate about the people’s landmark forest carbon project, several village and clan leaders sent a “letter of clarification” to the Federal Public Ministry (Ministério Público Federal) outlining what they see as flaws in the governing mechanisms designed to handle community finances.

In general, the signatories praised the Carbon Project itself, but said the governance apparatus that the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade, “Funbio“) created for the community had been slow to disburse funds, and that too much authority had been vested in the Metareilá Association, which is the indigenous organization selected by the Paiter-Surui to implement the project.

“We are not questioning the Surui Carbon Project and its partners,” they wrote. “But there is a huge discrepancy between the money that the Surui Fund received and the amount passed on to the associations.”

The Surui Fund – officially known as the Fundo Paiter-Surui – only began to earn income from the Carbon Project in September, 2013 when Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos purchased the first tranche of offsets. Income from that sale was earmarked for institutional strengthening, border control/surveillance and jump-starting economic alternatives to illegal logging. The signatories say that funding began flowing quickly into the community early in 2014, but slowed as the year progressed. It’s not clear whether the alleged discrepancy reflects the Fund’s allocation of income to community-wide programs, or whether it is symptomatic of growing pains or issues that need adjustment.

Fundo Paiter-Surui

Despite its name, the Fundo Paiter-Surui is more than just a depository for money. It’s a long-term governance apparatus developed by Funbio, together with members of the Paiter-Surui, to operationalize the 50-Year Management Plan that Chief Almir Surui created a decade ago. The Carbon Project spawned the Fundo, but the Fundo and the Project are two separate, symbiotic entities.

The Fundo‘s mission, according to a document prepared by Funbio (See English and Portuguese versions of “Fundo Paiter Surui Explainer”, right), is “To generate benefits to the indigenous territory by organizing, centralizing and providing transparency for the collection, management and use of resources for the governance of the Paiter Surui and the implementation of the Management Plan.”*

Governance

In the explainer and in the longer Operating Manual, Funbio commits to shepherding the creation of a Deliberative Council (“Conselho Deliberativo” ) and a Conflict-Resolution Chamber (“Câmara de Resolução de Conflitos“) to govern the fund with the Labiway Esaga, or overall chief, acting as administrator.

Chapter 8 of the Operating Manual clearly describes the roles of each body: the Deliberative Council is to choose a financial manager and supervise the selection of projects, among other things; the Conflict-Resolution Chamber is to keep information flowing and resolve conflicts; and the Labiway Esaga acts as the voice of the Fundo and has veto power over projects.

The manual describes a detailed, multi-level process for proposing projects and a system of checks and balances to prevent the concentration of control in any one person or entity. It also lays out an intricate set of procedures through which Funbio will launch and oversee the fund while gradually training members of the Paiter-Surui to assume management themselves over time.

Ângelo dos Santos, Funbio’s head of Climate Change and Clean Energy, acknowledged the grievances and said they reflected theFundo‘s stepwise implementation.

“This is a process in which the Fund’s structures are implemented in different stages depending on their incorporation by the Suruí,” he said, adding that Funbio was reviewing the grievances and would provide a detailed response shortly.

“The structure has a certain degree of complexity, which is learned gradually during the incubation period,” he added. “This first year the governance is being tested, and the basic management processes have advanced well in comparison to the beginning of 2014.”

Chief Almir said he was reviewing the grievances with the signatories, and he would offer a formal response early next week.

The Grievances

While the manual describes an emerging participatory process involving all of the various clan associations and the creation of new associations to handle new business areas, the signatories say the reality is a more concentrated. They often, however, refer to the governance structure (Fundo) as the “project”, which has led to confusion outside the community.

“During the preparation of the project, it had been agreed that each association would be responsible for an area: agriculture, education, health, environment, culture and tourism,” they wrote. “But when the funding arrived, from the sale of sale [of carbon offsets] to Natura, this agreement was not honored.”

Instead, they say, “[Labiway Esaga] Almir created departments within the Metareilá Association, reducing the involvement and autonomy of the other clan associations within the Suruí Fund.”

They called on Surui leaders to decentralize the implementation of the community-assistance work financed under the project, and they also called on federal authorities to monitor illegal logging and to take an active role in supporting the project.

“We expect that the Federal Public Ministry, in addition to monitoring the illegal logging, also monitor the correct implementation of the Project, because it is an innovation and might serve as an example to other indigenous peoples, if well executed,” they wrote.

Taking Stock

The grievances come amid general stock-taking involving internal and external actors. In July, for example, Metareilá Association invited an outside consultant to carry out a workshop assessing its governance, and that workshop produced recommendations for better integrating all the Surui communities to benefit from the Surui Carbon Project. It is not clear, however, which of those recommendations have been implemented.

The Carbon Project is also undergoing verification from external auditors under the rules of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Association as part of the normal procedure and safeguards for projects of this caliber. The verification includes an assessment of governing structures, and it is expected to yield similar recommendations.

Logging and Financial Pressure

The signatories also defended the motivations behind the resumption of logging by some families, which they say began in 2012. That was three years after they implemented a logging moratorium to support the carbon project, two years before funding from the carbon sales started to flow into the community in January 2014.

“Some of our people were selling wood to survive, and in 2009 discontinued this illicit activity thinking that now things would get better,” they wrote. “However, legal and bureaucratic obstacles delayed the availability of financial resources, [and] in 2012, some community members were forced to return to selling wood, because there was no project that would have allowed these families to sustain their livelihoods, many people were going hungry.”

Differentiating Between the Carbon Project and the Fundo

The wording of the list of grievances is at times confusing, with the Carbon Project and the Fundo Paiter-Surui being used interchangeably. In the final paragraph of their clarification, for example, the signatories deviated from the messaging in the bulk of the document and appear to call for the carbon project to be terminated, but they also call for more autonomy given to the associations.

“Given the above, the leaders who have signed this document want that the Paiter-Suruí Carbon Project to be terminated and for the associations to develop and implement projects that ensure real autonomy for communities with a sustainable development and income generation without depredation of natural resources.”

In context, and given the earlier support of the project and references to the Fundo as the “project”, the paragraph could refer to the Fundo or some of its mechanisms. Furthermore, several of the signatories, including former overall chief Anine Surui, had recently voiced support the project but criticized the administration of the funds. Ecosystem Marketplace has reached out to Anine and others for clarification, and will provide an answer as soon as we receive it.

Financial Flows

The signatories offered a detailed breakdown of expected financial flows vs. actual flows, and they pointed out that many of the chiefs went without compensation in the years during which the project was working its way through the four-year process of verification and validation.

“It was foreseen in the project budget that the board members of each clan association would receive a salary of R$2,000.00 ($762.00) for a period of three years,” they wrote. “This salary would be paid for accompanying and supervising the project together with the communities that each association represents, but no such payment was made.”

But they said disbursal slowed down as the year progressed.

“The projects that had been approved received their contributions in two instalments,” they wrote. “The first was released in June, 2014 but some associations have not yet received the second instalment.”

They added, however, that “Technicians from Metareilá claim that they are still analyzing the statements of accounts presented for the first installment.”

The letter also says that 2014 funding to associations for general administration fell $R1,000 ($382.00) short of expectations.

“Contracts had been signed for an amount of R$7,500.00 ($2,866.00), payable in three monthly installments of R$2,500.00 ($955.00), but associations received two installments of R$ 2,000.00 ($763.00) and one instalment of R$ 2,500.00,” they wrote. “When they requested the amount still due, the Metareilá Association claimed that it had no means to pay the outstanding amount.”

Chief Almir acknowledged that some of the funds had been held up over concerns about how the first tranche was spent, but he pointed out that most of the allocated funds had been disseminated to the community. Both he and Funbio’s dos Santos said they would provide a detailed response shortly.

Women Key to Scaling Adoption Of Clean Cooking Solutions

5 January 2015 | When EcoZoom began designing its first cookstove, it wanted to include women from the start. “It was common sense for us,” explains Amanda West, the co-founder and Chief Communications Officer at EcoZoom. “The cornerstone of our business is our product, and if we don’t have a product women want to use, the whole business was going to crumble anyway.”

To make a product that women will use, the company involved them throughout the design process. “It was over 230 participants in the whole design process,” she says. “Then we came out with this awesome charcoal stove that women are in love with.”

The design went on to win Gold in the International Design Excellence Awards earlier this year, and now EcoZoom wants to integrate gender inclusion throughout the rest of their supply chain. However, they’ve found that including women isn’t always as simple as stakeholder consultations.

That’s where the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves comes in. EcoZoom is one of 6 Spark grant recipients, and the Alliance is helping them develop data that more clearly identifies the users by gender. – In addition to working with individual companies, the Alliance also works to collect sex-disaggregated data at the sector-wide scale – beginning with the organization’s newly-released 2013 Results Report.

The report was informed by a survey that asked all respondents about their gender strategies, as well as for data that breaks down users by gender when available. While over three-quarters of partners reported having a gender-focused strategy, challenges remain to appropriately address gender issues in the clean cookstoves and fuels sector. Most organizations (35%) cited funding as a key barrier to further implementation. Other commonly-cited issues include internal capacity, capacity of partners, ability to scale, and the ultimate sustainability of such operations.

The Alliance hopes to address these challenges head-on, since increased knowledge from data and case studies could help cookstoves activities around the world become more effective.

As a case in point, another Spark grantee, Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE), could have benefitted from adapting EcoZoom’s design process. A 2014 recipient of the prestigious Ashden Awards in 2014, SGFE still scored low on gender in their SPARK Fund application. The primary reason cited? Because SGFE didn’t disaggregate their data by gender, and didn’t address gender concerns throughout the supply chain.

“Now we start to include them [women],” explains Carlo Figà Talamanca, SGFE’s CEO. “Not just because we want to do good, but because it will also help us do better business.”

Talamanca already knew that women were integral to his supply chain. They were the majority of owners in retail shops, and restaurants that made bulk orders from his company employed many women. He had also found that women SGFE hired were more reliable than their male counterparts, even if they weren’t able to provide heavy manual labor.

However, he didn’t have an established strategy for including women – his actions were primarily reactive, not proactive. In particular, problems started when he hired a female accountant and an administrative manager earlier this year. Talamanca explains that while the men weren’t overt in their disrespect toward the new hires, their subtle actions that had a big impact – sometimes they might ignore what she said or be mildly rude in a response to her.

“I got really upset,” Talamanca said. “I said anyone who is really impolite – not just to women or to management, but to each other in general – then they get a monetary fine. This they understand, because we enforce it.”

Talamanca welcomed support from Els Rijke, the gender expert sent by the Alliance as part of the Spark Fund. The expert walked through every aspect of SGFE’s supply chain and created a gender action plan based off of the Alliance’s best practices guidebook,Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment.

“She doesn’t have a magic wand,” he explained to me over the phone. Instead, the expert would ask questions about practices or actions that were taken for granted and try to figure out the cultural reasons behind them. In some cases, problems were only tangentially gender-related – and more overtly poverty-related.

Many of Talamanca’s employees come from poor waste-picker communities. Though they receive higher wages from SGFE than from many others jobs available, the women – usually more responsible employees by showing up on time and working harder – sometimes skip days.

Upon further questioning through a series of interviews, they found that this is because the majority of workers are indebted. The women are more often the ones who take out loans and repay debts (though their husbands often spend the money). They would skip days to work another job or try to find cash to pay off their debts.

After these interviews, Talamanca and Rijke worked to create a matrix of possible solutions and ranked them by long-term effectiveness and risk reduced. As a next step, Talamanca will review these suggestions to decide the next course of action.

He plans to address the lending issue immediately. Starting in November, Talamanca will pay salaries through a micro-finance institution instead of in cash. The bank account has multiple benefits: it reduces risk of theft both at the factory and at the employees’ houses, as well as encouraging savings.

A third benefit, as yet untested, is the opportunity for low interest loans. SGFE will back a few employee loans, so workers can benefit from reduced interest rates instead of going to money lenders. If the first test cases go well, Talamanca hopes to expand the backing to all employees that meet certain conditions (such as seniority or demonstrated reliability).

Back in Kenya, West of EcoZoom will also be deciding next steps. Asked what the most important take-away was from these consultations, she replied that with gender, “it’s really important to think about your strategy for engaging men as well as women.”

As EcoZoom looks to expand into manufacturing activities, they want to include women throughout the process. However, going into a community with high unemployment and only offering jobs to women may create additional problems for them at home.

West added, “Some organizations have tried to recruit women as sales agents… but then found that they were building all this income for women, but when she would bring it home the man would just take it. Because the man didn’t have any education about reinvesting money in the business, this short-term view hurt women entrepreneur’s ability to be successful.”

“If you don’t look at it holistically, you don’t create the solution you set out to create. You’re really affecting a family and a household.”

This Week In Biodiversity: Congress Enters The Sage-Grouse Battle

23 December 2014 | Greetings! This month, the sage-grouse wars raged on, with Congress – never one to pass on a fight – getting involved.The spending bill passed by the US Congress last week included the following provision:
Sage-Grouse Sec. 122. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to write or issue pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533) 

(1) A proposed rule for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)
(2) A proposed rule for the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse;
(3) A final rule for the bi-state distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse; or
(4) A final rule for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) 
While mainstream conservationists balk at this Congressional rider, some say it gives the conservation community time to demonstrate that voluntary incentives can work, such as Habitat Exchanges in Colorado and Nevada.

 

Interior Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw told Ecosystem Marketplace that while they weren’t happy about the Congressional intrusion, the bill doesn’t stop the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from continuing to collect data and conduct analysis around a final decision, nor does it have implications for local and state plans or partnerships.

 

So will it be conflict or collaboration? We’re starting to get whiplash. Counties in Oregon recently hammered out a new multi-county Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances with USFWS. Meanwhile the Nevada Association of Counties, miners, and ranchers are suing the federal government over the 2011 agreement USFWS made with conservation groups that blocked the agency from considering “warranted but not precluded” when deciding whether to list a number of candidate species, including the greater sage-grouse. And the Center for Biological Diversity is suing the USFWS for listing the Gunnison sage-grouse bird as ‘threatened’ versus ‘endangered’ based on voluntary conservation actions.

 

This month we also have a number of terrific Opinion pieces from Bobby Cochran (on why nature matters for human health), William Coleman (on the “Farmer Brown” problem – or how mitigation prices can help EPA fix its penalty fees), and Carlos Ferreira (onwhy we need to make the offsets case to consumers). We’d love to hear what you think.

 

Happy holidays – and see you in 2015!

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

EM Exclusives

Opinion: Biodiversity Offsets As Corporate Responsibility: Opportunity Or Paradox?

A visit to the SpeciesBanking website confirms what specialists have known for some time: that the practice of offsetting impacts to biodiversity is widespread. And while national, regional and local practices vary widely, one point is clear: offsetting is an increasingly important mechanism for conservation as more and more companies use them to mitigate their biodiversity impacts.

 

However, few firms are choosing to offset as a way to manage their image and show consumers that they are environmentally-responsible companies. Biodiversity offsets has the potential to implement high quality conservation in the face of encroaching development. But, unless it’s under attack, the concept remains almost unheard of among consumers. This is a big problem, according to a researcher on the subject who says growth and regulatory support depends on public opinion. And this unawareness at the consumer level could be impacting the sector’s ability to expand.

Read the opinion piece here.

Mitigation News

Voluntary Conservation Continues to Ruffle Feathers

At the bare minimum, farmers and ranchers in the US West hope that Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) will exclude them from USFWS restrictions and regulations should the bird be listed under the Endangered Species Act. But contention over these measures, which allow landowners to perform land-use activities beneficial to a species in exchange for exclusion from future regulations, continues.

 

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the USFWS for listing the Gunnison sage-grouse bird as ‘threatened’ versus ‘endangered’ based on voluntary conservation actions. Meanwhile environmental organizations argue the CCAAs perform only minimal conservation and aren’t sufficient in ensuring a viable healthy species population.

Get the full story from the Capital Press.

Adjustments to Florida Mitigation Bank Causes a Big Stir

Disagreement surrounds the development of a parcel of land in Florida’s Volusia and Brevard counties. The Sierra Club is taking legal action against a regional water management agency that approved an investment company’s development agenda on an area deemed as part of a massive mitigation bank. The investment bank says their permit allows for them to remove acreage from the bank and that the removed part wasn’t an active area of the bank. Regardless, the Sierra Club says the development is harmful to the bank and the regional agency doesn’t have the authority to release conservation easements.

Keep reading.

Environmental Funds Look to Play Ball with the Extractive Industry

At last month’s World Parks Congress, participants took a closer look at environmental funds specifically looking at how they could engage earlier and more often with extractive industries. The benefits of a stronger relationship between the two are sizable. Industries like mining and oil could channel some of their revenue into these funds to benefit wildlife in areas surrounding their operations. In turn, a closer relationship with the funds could also perhaps help these industries lessen their impact on local biodiversity.

Read more at Forbes.

ICMM Passes their Biodiversity Midterms, But Get Some Homework

A new report prepared for the International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM) found that ICMM members have greater focus and more specific commitments on biodiversity conservation than their non-ICMM peers. The Biodiversity Performance Review was commissioned by ICMM and the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It includes recommendations for further engagement including developing a business case for biodiversity offsets, working with NGOs to align definitions of high biodiversity value areas, and minimum requirements for risk and impact assessments.

Learn more.
Get a copy of the report.

Mitigation Roundup

 

Rethinking Deforestation and Water Connections

Surprising new research out of Australia found that deforestation doesn’t always have a negative impact on wetlands and in some cases, can result in an increase in biodiversity and water flow. Analyzing data from a pool of 245,000 global wetlands, report authors found that forests act like biological pumps and transport water into the atmosphere reducing the amount available for wetlands, rivers and groundwater. The authors say this study is a key tool when making decisions related to reforestation, wetlands and water quality.

&nndash; Learn more here.

A Good Report Card for Myanmar’s Nature Reserve

Myanmar’s Taninthayi Nature Reserve Project got a favorable review from the nation’s Forest Department and the environmental organization, Wildlife Conservation Society. The project, which engages private companies in funding the creation and management of a protected area, is a public-private partnership and unique to Myanmar. It helps companies manage their development impacts on biodiversity in sensitive ecosystems although the project doesn’t meet biodiversity offsetting standards. If proven successful, the model could spread and be used in other parts of the country.

Learn more from the Biodiversity Consultancy.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think it Means

Market-based conservation is viewed as having great potential for alleviating big environmental challenges like deforestation but the diverseness of the term is creating such confusion, it’s stalling progress on the policy front. A study analyzing data related to market-based instruments (MBIs) found that many peer-reviewed articles on MBIs had little to do with actual markets. Several payments for ecosystem services projects act more like subsidies-with a government as a payment provider-than market mechanisms. Distinct definitions and stricter use of the term should result in greater clarity on the issue, but report authors note the difficulty in categorizing MBIs as many of them are multidimensional.

Learn more at the CIFOR blog.

Thinking Green Means Managing Green

Recent studies have found simply labeling an area as protected doesn’t ensure a positive outcome. Proper management is required. Last month during the World Parks Congress, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the importance of good governance by unveiling its Green List, a compilation of 23 of the world’s best managed protected areas that result in favorable ecosystems for biodiversity. The Green List and initiatives like it encourages the type of international cooperation that is necessary for achieving global biodiversity targets.

Keep reading.

JOB LISTINGS

 

Program Manager

The Nature Conservancy – Washington DC, USA

The Program Manager directs and manages all aspects of key science-based programs that are essential to developing thought leadership in select TNC science staff, to building community between staff scientists and the broader science community, and to support scientific development and leadership within The Nature Conservancy on key conservation and conservation science issues. S/he serves as principal contact for these key programs and, through her/his program leadership, helps establish the Conservancy as a major scientific thought leadership organization.

 

The Program Manager defines priorities and long-term strategies for TNC’s science thought-leadership training and post-doctoral programs, with an eye to increasing the diversity of scientists in thought leadership positions. S/he creates a culture of innovation, adaptive learning, risk-taking and cohort supportiveness within these programs. S/he initiates and develops key partnerships with mentors and public and private organizations that spur participants within these programs and across the programs as a whole to maximum impact. S/he directs and manages the programs’ ongoing activities, specifically:

 

  • Developing curricula for early- and mid-career science staff that increases the rigor, impact and effectiveness of their scientific research, improves their communication skills, promotes their ability to lead conservation through new ideas to better practices and more effective partnerships, and raises their profile in the external science community.
  • Developing curricula for post-doctoral scholars that improves ability to conduct cutting-edge science that is useful for conservation, increases understanding of academic and NGO cultures, improves communication effectiveness in multiple media forms, and builds community among young conservation scientists and the broader conservation science and practice communities.
  • Coordinates communications trainings and curricula with The Conservancy’s Science Communications Department
  • Growing a network of university partners that establishes The Conservancy’s science staff and post-doctoral fellows as top notch colleagues, and improves opportunity creation for university partners to inform Conservancy practice on the ground
  • Organizing and running workshops and conferences for the key programs that provide opportunities for participants to build community with each other and to benefit from interactions with program mentors.
  • Bringing a fresh lens and inspiring creativity to all activities.
  • Creating and identifying opportunities to use the programs to create a more inclusive and diverse conservation community.

Learn more here.

EVENTS

 

2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida is the only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and training as well as important regulatory updates. Proven to be “the” place to gain insights, explore new markets and learn from sessions, the 2015 Conference will continue its focus on educational content – both advanced and basic sessions as well as moderated exchanges and a variety of mini workshops that help to connect bankers, regulators, users and others involved in this industry. Pre and post- event workshops include Primer 101, Stream Banking, Long-Term Stewardship, Financing & Valuation and more. Hear perspectives from bankers, regulators and users, get updated on regulations, legislation and legal challenges, participate in field trips and benefit from the many opportunities to network! With a high attendance this past year, we anticipate a record attendance in Orlando and encourage you to make plans to submit to present, attend, even sponsor or exhibit! Orlando FL, USA. 5-8 May 2015.

Learn more here.

This Week In V-Carbon: The Lima Call For Climate Action

17 December 2014 | When it comes to the future of our climate, are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? If you’re on the glass half full side, then you will find new reason to hope in the fact that the international climate talks in Lima, Peru concluded on Sunday with a basic agreement on what constitutes the national submissions expected to form the foundation of a new climate deal in Paris in 2015.

But if you fall in the glass half empty camp, then you’re probably disappointed that the 20th Conference of Parties (COP 20) talks ended with very few details about what these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) due in March will actually look like. The 22 paragraphs in the Lima agreement provided precious few details about the INDCs beyond the fact that they will contain specific emission reduction targets and plans for achieving them. Whether the sum of these contributions will keep global temperature rise limited to 2 degrees Celsius the agreed goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) remains to be seen.

“The information for the INDCs is key,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Peruvian Minister of Environment who served as President of COP 20. “The INDCs are key to having this balance between the bottom-up and the top-down process for Paris, and also because the INDCs are going to show us if there is a gap, what is the dimension of the gap.”

One of the COP 20 highlights for the optimists among us was the increasing momentum behind the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which surpassed the $10 billion mark and secured financial commitments from both developed and developing countries. Particularly noteworthy were financial pledges of $6 million apiece from host country Peru and Colombia, which demonstrated that these developing countries wanted to play a constructive role in supporting the GCF despite having very limited historic responsibility for escalating global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Now the race begins to assess and finance the first GCF projects and programs ahead of the Paris talks. Funding under the GCF will be split 50-50 toward adaptation and mitigation activities and REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects could find themselves on the GCF’s fast track.

“I would be more than delighted if some of the projects approved include forestry projects,” said Héla Cheikhrouhou, GCF’s Executive Director. But given the short time frame to Paris, she warned: “Don’t bring us concepts that will take years to develop.”

The pessimists among us may be disappointed by the lack of clear signals on future demand for offsets generated under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Negotiations on the CDM ended with the adoption of guidance calling for, among other things, consolidation of its rules and streamlining methodologies. The CDM and Joint Implementation (JI) programs are still in serious need of reform if they are to be included in some form in the Paris agreement, market experts said.

“But we’ve already done a helluva a lot of this work and it seems ridiculous to throw away the capacity we’ve built up, both within the UNFCCC itself, within host country governments, within the governments in the buyer countries and also with the private sector and start again afresh,” said Miles Austin, Executive Director of the Climate Markets and Investment Association. “Because if we don’t learn the lessons of the CDM and from JI, then we’re simply going to recreate history.”

Top story survey
Last chance for you to weigh in on the biggest stories of 2014. Tell us here. While you’re putting your own spin on the news of the year, let us know what direction you think we’re headed in 2015. We’ll review our readers’ top 10 for the year gone by and predictions for the year ahead in a special New Year’s edition of V-Carbon.

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

The Editors

Thank you to all the generous supporters to our recent Crowdrise fundraising campaign. With your help we exceeded our target and raised over $135,000!

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: vcarbonnews@ecosystemmarketplace.com


V-Carbon News

VOLUNTARY CARBON

Early movers get the worm
The governments of Germany and Norway committed up to $65 million apiece to Colombia and Ecuador, expanding the REDD Early Movers Program (REM) to these two rainforest nations. The contributions will be distributed over three years, starting in 2015 through the end of 2017, as payments for verified emissions reductions. “The best contribution we can make as donors is to demonstrate that we are willing to pay for the results,” said Hege Araldsen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ecuador, Chile and Peru. The announcement marks a significant expansion of the REM program, following the 2013 agreement between Germany and the state of Acre, Brazil. Read more here
Ready to get results
Heru Prasetyo, head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, said the country will be ready for results-based payments for reducing deforestation by the end of 2016. The first step was submitting reference levels on Indonesia’s historical deforestation to the UNFCCC a task completed last week. The reference levels include both deforestation and degradation between 2000 and 2012 and projects that land-use change in Indonesia will result in 439 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year by 2020 under a business-as-usual scenario. Creating the reference level required pulling together disparate data from several sources across the country and getting different institutions to work together a massive undertaking, according to the REDD+ Agency. Read more here from EM Read more from Mongabay
Fake it till you make it
Twenty Brazilian companies participated in an emissions trading system (ETS) simulation using live corporate data, through a partnership between the Rio de Janeiro Green Stock Exchange and Empresas Pelo Clima, a Brazilian business group. The simulation included auctioning and bonds markets, assessment of company emission submissions, and fines for non-compliance. The idea is to stimulate conversation between companies and the government about how a carbon market in Brazil could potentially work, and to expose companies to ways to include carbon pricing in their business strategies, wrote Nicolette Bartlett of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group. Read more here
What’s the Vegas spread?
Will a future international climate agreement include compliance markets for forest carbon offsets? Investment firms such as London-based Permian Global, which is planning to invest $100 million in REDD projects in Latin America, are betting on it. The payments will be based on achieved emissions reductions. “Philanthropy will not be enough to preserve forests,” said Stephen Rumsey, chairman of Permian Global. But some delegates to COP 20 oppose forest-based offsets, arguing that countries would use them as an excuse to maintain higher emissions levels. Read more here

COMPLIANCE CARBON

For what it’s worth
Three of China’s seven pilot carbon markets reached milestones recently. Beijing’s market surpassed the 100 million yuan (about $15 million USD) mark. Guangdong province announced that 600 million yuan ($97 million USD) in revenue generated from emissions permit auctions will be invested in a fund for pollution-cutting projects. And carbon prices in Shanghai reached a record high (36.9 yuan, or $5.98 USD per tonne) after 20 trading houses entered the market. Despite these developments, experts say the pilot markets are so far not driving the level of investment China will need to meet its 2020 target of slashing the carbon emissions associated with each unit of Gross Domestic Product to 40-45% below 2005 levels. Read more on Beijing
Read more on Guangdong
Read more on Shanghai
K-pop is music to climate policy
Starting in January, South Korea’s carbon trading market, the Korea Exchange (KRX), will be open for business. Five-hundred and twenty-five regulated companies will participate as the government aims to cut emissions 30% below business-as-usual levels over five years. Last week, South Korea’s environment ministry gave petrochemical, energy, steel and power generation companies an emissions quota of just under 16 billion Korean Allowance Units (KAUs), as opposed to the 20 billion KAUs requested by companies. Initially, the KRX will be open for trading for just two hours per day, but business hours may expand depending on market activity. Read more here
Bet they will remember their first time
In their first joint auction on November 25, California and Quebec sold GHG allowances for $12.1/tCO2e each. Buyers purchased 23.1 million allowances that can be used immediately and an additional 10.8 million allowances that can be used starting in 2017. The two governments received 1.7 bids for every allowance that was on sale. Both California and Quebec are actively looking to recruit new US states and Canadian provinces to join their cap-and-trade system. Read more here

CARBON FINANCE

A vanishing act
The world’s mangroves are being destroyed at three to five times the rate of tropical forests, exposing developing countries to sea level rise and flooding, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The agency’s analysis finds that this destruction comes at a staggering cost: $42 billion per year. In African nations such as Cameroon, Gabon, and Angola, replacing mangroves with seawalls would cost as much as $11,286 per hectare for the same coastal protection benefits, the study finds. Mangroves are also important, butquickly disappearing carbon stocks, according to a report by the Marine Ecosystems Services program of Forest Trends and UNEP suggests they should be included more prominently in REDD+ discussions. Read more here

STANDARDS & METHODOLOGY

Agriculture strikes Gold
The Gold Standard launched its agricultural program last week at a side event at COP 20. “Our secret agenda is to make sure that payments for carbon reduction actually become payments for sustainable development,” said Pieter van Midwoud, Director of Land Use and Forests. The certified emissions reductions program includes streamlined guidelines for smallholder farmers. The Gold Standard is working with partners Hivos, Solidaridad and the Cool Farm Alliance, and their announcement states that they aim to make their agricultural program “a strong weapon for corporates implementing zero-net deforestation commitments.”Read more here

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

A quicker payoff
Previously, climate scientists have suggested that the effects of carbon dioxide emitted today may not be fully felt for several decades. But that may be a misconception, according to a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters. In fact, the “maximum warming effect” is felt after 10.1 years, researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science found after analyzing several climate models. The benefits of reducing emissions will also be felt in that timeframe, meaning a quicker payoff for governments that enact carbon-cutting policies. “Our results show that people alive today are very likely to benefit from emissions avoided today and that these will not accrue solely to impact future generations,” said Katharine Ricke, the study’s lead author. Read more here

Featured Jobs

Carbon Research Assistant, Winter/Spring 2015 – 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. More information here
Associate II, Climate, Equity and Development World Resources Institute
Based in Washington, D.C., the Associate will conduct policy-relevant research, analysis and writing on various aspects of international climate change policy, with a focus on climate equity issues. The position requires a minimum of 7-10 years of progressive professional work experience as well as a degree in environmental studies, international relations, or economics (master’s or PhD preferred). Strong analytical writing skills and international experience are essential; the position requires 20% international travel. More information here
Division Chief Climate Change & Sustainability – Inter-American Development Bank
Based in Washington, D.C., the Division Chief will advise management on developing strategies, policies and guidelines for borrowing member countries, to assist them in including climate change issues in infrastructure planning, among other mitigation and adaptation programs. The ideal candidate will hold an advanced degree in a relevant field and have at least 10 years of experience (proven experience in Latin America or the Caribbean strongly preferred). Proficiency in English and Spanish is required; knowledge of Portuguese or French would be a plus. More information here
Assistant to the Executive Director 350.org
Based in Brooklyn, New York, the Assistant to the Executive Assistant will manage calendars; make travel, meeting, and event arrangements; and work with all levels of international management and staff of 350.org. The position requires at least three years of experience assisting organizational leaders, exceptional interpersonal skills, the ability to remain calm in the midst of chaos, and a developed sense of discretion and diplomacy. A strong understanding of the climate crisis and the social movements working to address it is a plus. More information here
Outreach Coordinator, Climate and Energy Program Union of Concerned Scientists
Based in Washington, D.C., the Outreach Coordinator will develop and implement strategies that engage and influence the public, opinion leaders, decision makers, and elected officials at the local, state, and national levels on climate and energy campaigns. Candidates should have three to five years of experience in a similar position, preferably in a non-profit setting. More information here
Climate Change Research Community Leader Sofoi
Based anywhere, the Climate Change Research Community leader will assist Sofoi part-time to build and moderate a community of climate change researchers, spanning science and policy. Candidates must hold a PhD in a relevant discipline and be currently working as a climate change researcher within a leading university. The time commitment is a few hours per week. More information here
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Avoided Deforestation Could Land On Green Climate Fund’s Fast Track

12 December 2014 | LIMA |Peru | It was a heavy lift to get countries to pledge the $10 billion seen as a crucial source of early financing for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) by the end of this year’s Conference of Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru. Now comes the even harder part: the race to commit some of that funding to projects that will prove the GCF works ahead of the climate talks in Paris in 2015.

The GCF was established during COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico to support projects, programs, policies and other actions that contribute to low-carbon and climate-resilient development in developing countries. Funding under the GCF will be split 50-50 toward adaptation and mitigation activities, including REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects.

The GCF is designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Funding for the GCF materialized very slowly, but UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres challenged countries to provide initial funding of $10 billion by this year’s COP. Countries finally met that challenge this week with a flurry of commitments, including new pledges from Peru, Colombia and Austria that increased total committed funding to nearly $10.2 billion.

“That capitalization does send a strong signal,” said Mary Robinson, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Climate Change. “This capitalization, though, is just a start. Most people understand that this is still a long way short of what will be needed.”

Developed countries have committed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate initiatives in developing countries.

“The Green Climate Fund looks likely to transform the landscape of climate finance,” said Heru Prasetyo, head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency. “It is vital that we start discussing how we can most effectively use this new institution to leverage its transformative potential as much and as rapidly as possible.”

Getting up to Speed

The pressure is on the GCF to quickly launch its operations now that it has received this $10 billion in pledged financing, namely by assessing and securing board approval for projects ahead of COP 21 in Paris next December.

Countries are concerned about the speed at which projects will navigate the GCF process, acknowledged Héla Cheikhrouhou, GCF’s Executive Director.

“If GCF is not moving as fast as private commercial banks, then people will say ‘how come–this is something that’s so urgent, so important, yet so slow’,” Prasetyo said.

Small island countries are particularly concerned that the GCF application process may be cumbersome and that they might be bypassed by the GCF as they have been by other funding mechanisms because they are classified as middle-income countries.

There needs to be a way to fast track and build capacity so that these countries are not left behind, said Tony de Brum, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who advocated a theme of “less process, more access” for the GCF.

The GCF will have to accomplish in nine months what it would normally take three years to do, such as accredit entities, complete portfolio details and assess proposals, Cheikhrouhou observed.

“Our task together is going to Paris with some sample of projects already approved by the board,” she said.

Developing countries can submit funding proposals to the GCF through National Designated Authorities (NDAs), with 70 countries already nominating an NDA or a focal point to oversee such submissions.

“We’re looking for countries to put forward their best, highest-performing institutions,” she said.

REDD+ in the Fast Lane?

REDD+ projects could be among those fast tracked ahead of the Paris talks as forest management and land use have been defined as a key area of focus and funding by the GCF.

“I would be more than delighted if some of the projects approved include forestry projects,” Cheikhrouhou said. But given the short time frame to Paris, she warned: “Don’t bring us concepts that will take years to develop.”

Norway sees the GCF as an important channel for financing REDD+ projects, said Henrik Harboe, Deputy Director of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the GCF Board.

“Now is the time for countries to come forward with good proposals for REDD projects and programs,” he said. The GCF board adopted a specific model and measurement framework for REDD+ results-based payments in October, which was of “great significance” in the view of Indonesia’s national REDD+ agency, Prasetyo said.

The GCF could help Indonesia’s interim financing mechanism called Financing REDD+ in Indonesia (FREDDI) become a useful and effective fund, he said.

“The government of Indonesia looks forward to building a strong relationship with the Green Climate Fund,” Prasetyo said.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects could also be funded under the mitigation component according to the GCF rules, but assurance is needed that the projects meet the GCF’s investment criteria and results-based management framework, Cheikhrouhou said.

The GCF is looking for trend-setting projects that have significant climate impacts and contribute to a paradigm shift in terms of the country’s international pledges under the UNFCCC process and its economic capacity to implement mitigation activities on a national level. CDM project developers will have to evaluate their projects to see if they fit the GCF’s criteria, she said.

Private Sector’s Entry Into the Race

The key feature of the GCF is the private sector facility, which will allow direct and indirect funding for private-sector activities, because it is the only way to mobilize funds at the necessary scale, Harboe said.

“Ten billion US dollars is a very impressive figure, but it is a very small compared to the needs for finance in developing countries,” he said.

The advantage of the GCF is that it can work with the private sector in ways that other funds cannot because it can provide project and program financing through a variety of mechanisms, including grants, loans and equity, Cheikhrouhou said. The fund is also ready and willing to take on risks that other facilities cannot, which can help engage the private sector.

“We are ready to hit the ground running and we think we will have to run very fast and will only be able to do that as fast as partners are running with us,” Cheikhrouhou said.

Climate Talks Continue Into Sunday As Negotiators Attempt Circumcision Without Amputation

UPDATE: 13 December 2014 | 11:17 GMT-5 | A new text is reportedly circulating among the negotiating groups, but the plenary scheduled for 11pm has been postponed until after midnight.

13 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru | 1:42pm GMT-5 | Negotiators meeting under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) here were unable to reach consensus on a stripped-down negotiating text that emerged early Saturday morning as least-developed countries objected to the removal of loss-and-damage provisions. COP President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, however, says he will have a compromise text to present to the high-level negotiators meeting this evening as the 20thConference of the Parties (COP 20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convenes.



The new text emerged after intense one-on-one lobbying by negotiators from Singapore and Norway, acting at Pulgar-Vidal’s behest, and it eliminated the laundry list of items to be found in INDCs.

It also made no mention of land-use issues or loss-and-damage.

The Environmental Integrity Group and European Union acknowledged the text’s shortcomings but argued to send it up to the higher-level negotiatiors. Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry, however, set the tone for opponents by rejecting any text that doesn’t deal with loss-and-damage and saying the text needed “surgery”. Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries, reiterated that, but Singapore countered by saying that we can’t all have everything.



“If each of us submits just one item on a wish list, we will inflate this document beyond recognition,” said Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, before offering what may be the most disturbing metaphor of the talks.

“Before embarking on any surgery, the most important question is whether it is necessary, and you have to ask, ‘What are the potential complications?'” he said. “If you are submitting for circumcision, be careful it doesn’t become an amputation because the surgeon used too big a knife and took too much flesh.”

New Zealand conceded there are “dead rats that need to be swallowed”, but also said “no sides have been ignored.”

With no consensus, the text was sent back to Pulgar-Vidal shortly before 1:30pm. He then announced that he will begin working with negotiating blocks individually starting at 2:30pm for a series of ten-minute meetings that will end around 5:30pm, and he promised to emerge with a new text to present to the COP this evening.

Green Climate Fund Passes $10 Billion Threshold

9 December 2014 | Lima | Peru | Late last week, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) received good news when Norway doubled its pledge bringing the Fund’s total within USD $50 million of its $10 billion goal. $10 billion is the number the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres says is the minimum threshold to make a meaningful impact on climate change.

Today the Fund received more good news as Belgium is expected to contribute $60 million to the GCF, which is intended to counter climate change with mitigation and adaptation practices in developing countries. The European nation is expected to make a formal announcement later today during the High-level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance at the 20th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Reaching the $10 billion mark has heavy symbolic meaning as the financial costs of the mitigation and adaptation needs far outweigh this number. In order for negotiations to truly move forward and for the possibility of an international climate agreement to be reached during next year’s COP in Paris, the $10 billion objective had to be achieved, industry analysts say.

“Crossing the $10 billion threshold has symbolic and financial significance,” says Athena Ballesteros, the Finance Center Director at the World Resources Institute. “Contributors have clearly demonstrated their commitment to helping countries confront climate impacts on-the-ground. This is an important down payment on climate action that can help build trust in the negotiations.”

During the high-level dialogue to take place later today (3-6 pm EST), other countries are expected to announce contributions to the GCF.

COP Boss Pushes Simplified, Less Prescriptive Text In Bid To Move Climate Talks Forward

11 December 2014 | LIMA| Peru | For a brief moment, Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal seemed to have lost his spark. As President of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he’s been tirelessly shepherding delegates here towards an agreement on two issues: how best to tackle climate change between now and 2020, which is when a new climate agreement is supposed to come into effect, and sewhat should go into the building blocks of that new agreement so-called Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDC).

But he looked drained and almost haggard as he introduced Kishan Kumarsingh, who heads the negotiating body charged with creating a basic text. Kumarsingh then reported that his group had failed to move beyond the 50-page document containing 36 paragraphs, almost all with several options: “In a nutshell, we have not had any progress on how we proceed with the textual negotiations on the text we completedlast night.”

Pulgar-Vidal then lit the room with a 20-minute harangue that blended into a rallying cry and culminated with him calling Kumarsingh and fellow co-chair Artur Runge-Metzger into a closed-door meeting designed to yield a simplified negotiating text a draft of which had already been accidentally posted to the UNFCCC’s web site in the morning, prompting a walkout by the G-77 and China.

Finally, at 10:30pm local time, he posted a new negotiating text that boiled 50 pages of bloated text offering several options for each paragraph down to seven pages comprised of 17 paragraphs, only four of which had options. Each of those four has only three options, and each of those three is clearly delineated from the others.

The new text is decidedly less prescriptive than the earlier one. On land use, for example, the previous text contained several detailed options for making land-use provisions explicit and calling for meetings between now and Paris. The new text has just one option in the main body that explicitly mentions land-use (the third option under paragraph nine, which asks countries to detail their “land-use accounting approaches and expected use of market mechanisms, undertakings in national adaptation planning processes, and if applicable, the provision of finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building support for ambitious mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries.”)

The annex, which contains the proposed elements of a country’s Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution, has also been whittled from 15 pages to two, and makes a brief reference to the need for “accounting for the land sector, including an explanation of how Parties will address all significant lands or activities, pools and gases; the reason for exclusion of any significant lands or activities, pools and gases; the approach proposed for addressing non-anthropogenic impacts, if any; and whether any accounting approaches build upon existing and agreed guidance or other methodologies.”

The result is a document with no one’s pet projects delineated explicitly, but none explicitly endorsed, either.

“Don’t leave me alone.
Work with me together, based on confidence, to deal with the problem.

Pular-Vidal drew a standing ovation for his appeal to put legalistic thinking aside and focus on core values.

“This isn’t a linguistic discussion,” he said. “It’s a substantial discussion.”

He conceded the need for negotiators to look out for their own national interests, but urged them to cooperate.

“The solution is not in the words, not in the dots or points, but in the substance,” he said, recounting his 28 years in environmental law. “You are my colleagues. Most of you are ministers of environment; some of you are ministers of foreign affairs; and I’m sure we believe in the same thing. Obviously we recognize your domestic needs, your domestic problems, your internal political difficulties.

“Don’t leave me alone,” he concluded. “Work with me together, based on confidence, to deal with the problem.”

In the morning, we’ll see how well the appeal worked.

Developing Nations Issue Challenge To Deliver On Pledge To Save Forests

9 December 2014 | Lima | Peru | The New York Declaration on Forests was announced to much fanfare during the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City in September. Developing countries want to make sure the momentum created by the announcement is not lost.

Governments, multinational corporations, civil society and indigenous peoples issued the declaration a joint commitment to cut forest loss in half by 2020 and completely end it by 2030. The pledge, if successfully implemented, would reduce global emissions by anywhere from 4.5 to 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. The declaration also calls for restoring more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands an area greater than the size of India.

Now it’s time to deliver on the declaration, with more than a dozen developing country governments in Africa, Asia and South America signing the Lima Challenge. Developing countries pledged to increase the ambition of their climate plans ahead of the signing of a new climate agreement in Paris in 2015, if developed countries match this ambition with support and incentives and by pledging to help reduce emissions in developing countries via specific mitigation partnerships on REDD+, land restoration and landscape-scale mitigation.

“The problem of deforestation is an institutional one and an ecological one, said Gustavo Suarez de Freitas, Executive Coordinator, National Forest Program, Peru. “This is a very big problem … the problem has to be solved and we have to do it together.

Countries signing the pledge include Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guyana, Liberia, Nepal, the Republic of Congo, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines.

The Lima Challenge also calls on countries that have not yet joined the New York Declaration to do so. Brazil was noticeably absent from the declaration.

The Philippines supports and endorses the Lima Challenge because the country has a lot to gain in reducing deforestation as it is increasingly vulnerable to worsening climate impacts, said Mary Ann Lucille Sering, commissioner of the Philippines Climate Change Commission. Typhoon Hagupit a Filipino word that means violent lashing is currently wreaking havoc in the Philippines, she observed. At least 21 people died due in floodwaters and about one million were evacuated from their homes.

“Our forests play a vital role, both as a mitigation strategy and an adaptation strategy against climate change, she said. “We have seen how our mangrove forests have actually saved a community. We also know the economic benefits of protecting our forests and looking at it more as a friend rather than something we just exploit.

The country implemented a national program to restore forest cover of 1.5 million hectares and stop logging in its remaining national forests, Sering said.

“The Philippines is coming forward with ambitious domestic climate goals that support our sustainable development goals and we are encouraging other countries to do their fair share as well by supporting the Lima Challenge, she said.

The Lima challenge countries must still do the homework of quantifying the mitigation components of their plans, but their joint announcement drew high praise from potential partners.

“I think this is really the first time we see a group of countries from the developing world come together and make such a challenging and ambitious commitment, said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. “To have type of initiative come from this part of the world, reaching out to all the others, sets a new stage for the new climate change agreement we’re so desperately trying to get here.

While it is very important that all governments come forward early next year with “ambitious, unconditional policies in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), Sir David King, Special Representative to the Foreign Secretary in the United Kingdom on climate change, was particularly buoyed by the pledge of the forest nations to indicate how they could go further in reducing deforestation with international support.

“We welcome the idea that through international partnerships working together, we can deliver in Paris more than the sum of our collective INDCs the national climate plans that will form the basis for a Paris climate agreement.

Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom have contributed over $3 billion to REDD+ to more than 50 countries since 2008, King noted.

“Our three countries have long supported REDD+ through the international negotiations, but also through our climate finance, he said. “We are also instigators and firm supporters of the New York Declaration on Forests.

In September, the three countries issued a joint statement in which they pledged to strengthen existing and create new partnerships with forest countries designing green growth strategies, with leading private sector companies taking deforestation out of their supply chains, and with the financial sector, civil society and other donor governments to scale up results-based finance for large-scale REDD+ projects. The statement also recognized the role of indigenous peoples in protecting forests and pledged to support their and local communities participation and engagement in REDD+.

“We also stand ready to fund up to 20 new programs by 2016 if countries put forward robust proposals, he said.

Christiana Figueres: Up Close And Personal On Carbon Markets

5 December 2014 | Lima, Peru |The first thing Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), did during her conversation with International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) President Dirk Forrister on Wednesday was rearrange the room. Sans microphones, Figueres and Forrister perched on the front of their desk and invited audience members to gather around fireside-chat style, with some people sitting cross-legged on the floor. It was a fitting arrangement for a discussion about carbon markets that have emerged from the ground up.

Countries are expected to lay the groundwork for submitting their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs their national plans for action on climate change) in spring of 2015 at this 20th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru. Though the role of markets in INDCs remains a question to be discussed over these two weeks of negotiations, Figueres sees their power to help solve one of the most perplexing conundrums of the climate talks: how the commitments countries eventually make to reduce emissions will be measured and enforced.

“I am very much a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) enthusiast, and my enthusiasm is not just because of the offsetting potential or the market part of it but because it is such a valuable tool in verifying mitigation, she said. “I would not be surprised if the toolset of the CDM precisely to measure mitigation and verify is something that would actually be pretty inspirational to put it mildly for the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

 Todd Lemons walks through a freshly-destroyed patch of forest
Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, and IETA President Dirk Forrister, engage in an informal chat during the COP in Lima.

Originally developed as a flexibility mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM was envisioned as a way for developed countries to offset their emissions by investing in sustainable development projects. Since its inception, the CDM has registered 7,800 projects across 107 countries and verified 1.5 gigatonnes of emissions reductions more than the annual emissions of the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa combined.

But CDM prices dropped to just cents per tonne around the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Since then, many CDM project developers have been looking to sell their stranded Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) on the voluntary carbon market. The significant drop in CDM prices presents an opportunity for more individuals to voluntarily offset their emissions, Figueres argued. Individuals accounted for 0.5% of voluntary offset purchases in 2013, according to Ecosystem Marketplace State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report.

“CERs will never be as cheap, she said. “They will go up in price.

By encouraging individuals to voluntarily offset at more affordable prices, their comfort with the overall concept of offsetting can be accelerated. And this is the moment to do so because greater engagement with carbon markets down to the individual level is crucial, she said. “We actually have a huge psychological barrier to get to the concept of climate neutrality” if individuals are not encouraged to think about it on a personal scale, she said.

Working from the ground up

Emerging carbon markets such as California’s cap-and-trade system have taken the cue from the CDM market and implemented minimum allowance prices to mitigate the risk of significant price drops. But the question of demand remains an important one for any market-based mechanism emerging from the UNFCCC process.

“I think from a very simple lesson learned perspective from the CDM: If there’s no demand, it doesn’t matter how much supply you have, you just don’t have a market, hence prices fall,” Figueres said. “So I think certainly developing countries have been very much on the thought of, well first let’s see what the collectivity of mitigation targets, contributions, commitments – whatever noun you want to put to it – are going to be, and then let’s figure out how we’re going to get there.”

However, Figueres was asked how to respond to businesses impatient for the emergence of policy signals about potential future markets from these negotiations.

“I guess I would turn that around and say, well, but there is nothing there that says markets are not going to be there,” Figueres answered.

Countries such as China and South Africa are already developing carbon pricing mechanisms even without an international agreement in place. Eight jurisdictions in China are piloting emissions trading systems in anticipation of a national market emerging in 2016, and South Africa is also expected to implement a carbon tax that year.

As for the expected Paris climate agreement, the bottom-up approach means that countries will likely have considerable flexibility in applying market mechanisms, Figueres said.

“I can’t imagine it would be prescriptive,” she said. “Having said that, the more that you have linking of systems, whether they be in this case the plethora of markets that are still underway and more mushrooming up, the more that they link with each other and the more that they standardize with each other, the more efficient the system is.”

With hundreds of different languages spoken at COP 20, INDCs are now part of the common vocabulary. But the concept of ground-up contributions is brand new – and much different from the top-down agreement envisioned at the inception of the UNFCCC process.

To Figueres, though, the idea of INDCs provides fresh perspective. Rather than viewing carbon mitigation as a punishment or a burden, countries are now very deliberately merging their climate and development agendas, she said.

“As I see it, that is the strength of [a bottom-up] agreement – that the driving force is going to be the national economy driving force, and you can’t have anything stronger than that,” Figueres said. “So when the driving force comes from the benefit that is going to be derived from those countries, that’s a very, very strong impetus. Then the question is what do we do if the sum total of that is not actually going to sum up to what science tells us we have to do? So that’s where the bottom-up meets the top-down and where the sum total of INDCs over time – not in the first iteration, but over time – will have to actually begin to close the gap.”

New Climate Deal Could Tap Existing Offset Programs

8 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru | The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has its share of critics and is in serious need of reform, but can still play a valuable role in supporting national climate policies and facilitating the flow of carbon finance, according to market observers.

With the 20th Conference of Parties (COP 20) climate negotiations here in Lima laying the groundwork for the climate deal expected to be finalized during the Paris COP in 2015, much of the discussion has centered on the potential new market mechanisms that could emerge from the negotiations.



However, Miles Austin, Executive Director of the Climate Markets and Investment Association, questioned the need for new market mechanisms, given the ones that currently exist, including the CDM and the Joint Implementation.

“We actually have some very well-functioning methods both within the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and external to it,” he said at a COP side event last week. “We have the CDM, which is in need of reform, clearly.”

A Slow Fix

The CDM allows developed (Annex 1) countries to purchase emissions reductions from certain projects established in developing (Annex 2) countries. However, prices for CDM offsets declined to well below the $1 per tonne mark as the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was coming to an end in 2012.

That year, the high-level panel for the CDM Policy Dialogue made recommendations to stabilize the program, including increasing the ambition of emission reduction targets to create demand and applying the CDM’s standards and methodologies to facilitate the rapid implementation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Additional suggestions included allowing any countries to use the emission reductions generated by the CDM rather than just those with mitigation targets under the Kyoto Protocol and reforming the CDM’s operations and governance to ensure more accountability and efficiency.

The panel also proposed expanding the CDM to test sector-wide approaches that could mitigate emissions at scale, such as reducing emissions from deforestation the CDM excludes all land use, land-use change and forestry activities, with the exception of afforestation and reforestation activities.

Many of these recommendations, though, have not been implemented despite the endorsement of the UNFCCC parties, Austin observed.

Important CDM reforms must happen to transfer these mechanisms into a post-2020 agreement, said Philipp Hauser, Vice-President of Carbon Markets for GDF Suez Energy Latin America. Access to the CDM program and offsets must be opened to any interested parties, regardless of whether they are parties to the Kyoto Protocol or not, he said. The CDM must also be revamped to reduce the cost and bureaucracy of the mechanism since issuance fees the costs of covering the issuing of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) generated by the project activity of 15 cents per CER might be high for developing countries, Hauser said.

Speaking a New Language

The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) developed proposed language for a new agreement allowing parties to cooperate in achieving their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This would include a unified international transfer system that enables parties to transfer portions of their contributions to other parties through carbon instruments of their choice, including carbon offsets via the CDM and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), said IETA President and CEO Dirk Forrister.

“Having a very robust international transfer system is necessary,” said Philippe Chauveau, head of climate change policy and carbon dioxide sales for Solvay. “It’s really a de-risking thing. You’re not going to have the private sector really involved if you have risk on the asset itself.”

Aside from the risk of manipulation or outright theft of permits from weak registries, the environmental integrity risk is “even more lethal” to society’s belief in the fight against climate change, he said. “That definitely calls for, in our view, unifying the different crediting systems into one singular umbrella, which you can rebrand as new mechanisms,” Chauveau said.

The JI program is similar to the CDM, but is designated for offset projects in developed (Annex 1) countries. JI projects generate offsets called Emission Reduction Units and follow two paths, with Track 1 projects approved and offsets issued by the host countries themselves and Track 2 projects approved by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) an international body that functions like the CDM Executive Board.

The majority of JI projects are developed under Track 1, which has raised questions about potential threats to the environmental integrity of the program since countries can approve projects and issue offsets with little international supervision. The JI program does need reform, particularly with regard to the potential Track 1 environmental integrity issues, Austin said.

“But we’ve already done a helluva a lot of this work and it seems ridiculous to throw away the capacity we’ve built up, both within the UNFCCC itself, within host country governments, within the governments in the buyer countries and also with the private sector and start again afresh,” he said. “Because if we don’t learn the lessons of the CDM and from JI, then we’re simply going to recreate history.”

A Political Football

The CDM, for example, was used as a political football during COP 17 in Durban, with certain countries threatening to end the CDM, Austin said. Even though they could not achieve the consensus required to disband the program, the fact that they publicly made such threats makes it difficult to convince investment boards at large banks and other capital providers to invest in CDM projects, he said.

Private-sector capital “particularly doesn’t like political risk and this process has been very bad at reducing political risk associated with the mechanisms that it’s created,” he said. “The effect that this has is that you scare away investors that require low-risk return, basically pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, and you attract people more at the venture capital end of the scale who require very high returns because they’re taking on a large amount of risk, be it real or perceived. There’s also less of that money available. So by not addressing the political risk that this forum is creating, it’s reducing the availability of capital to go into emissions reductions. It’s making the capital more expensive, which means that there is less of it.”

The EU is the largest buyer of CERs and has been consistently pushing for reform of the CDM. The Executive Board has resisted some of the requested reforms, which is part of the reason the EU has restricted CDM offsets to least-developed countries excluding advanced developing countries such as China and India. But the EU has also been “somewhat blind” to the fact that this is inherently a multilateral process and it will not always get want it wants, which gets in the way of reaching a balanced agreement, Austin observed.

“That scares off patient, cheap capital, which is fairly abundant, and attracts impatient, high-return capital,” he said. “But at the moment, there is almost no capital available for the CDM because the demand has completely collapsed.”

Using all the Tools in the Toolbox

Carbon pricing is the tool of choice to ensure that the rise in global temperatures is limited to below 2 degrees Celsius in an economically efficient way, Hauser said. GDF Suez does not focus on the currently low price of carbon, but applies an undisclosed internal carbon price, he said.

“We don’t look at the current lack of demand that the market is showing,” Hauser said. “We look at the significant demand for abatement being imposed by our environment. And that leads us to the conclusion that there will be a carbon price in the future and there will be demand for carbon credits and mitigation in the future. That leads us to a carbon price that allows us to do clean energy investments.”

GDF Suez and Solvay were both signatories to the World Bank’s statement on carbon pricing, which was published in June, but gained momentum in September during the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit when 74 countries, 23 subnational jurisdictions and more than 1,000 companies and investors expressed support for a price on carbon.

Smart combinations of existing and emerging policies and tools such as the CDM and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) with multilateral development bank (MDB), GCF or private-sector financing such as the GDF Suez’s 2.5 billion Green Bond issued in May 2014 to finance development of renewable energy projects and its energy efficiency activity gives value to emissions reductions, Hauser said.

“It’s all things we have on the table, but if we combine them, we can do very interesting things,” he said.

The company is already engaging such combinations. It has 16 projects registered under the CDM, 11 of which are supported by NAMAs and seven of which are financed by MDBs. “There’s nothing which prevents you from combining these tools and this is what we think is necessary,” he said.

The NAMAs create the enabling policy needed to finance these projects, which then generate emissions reductions that can be measured, reported and verified using current tools, he said.

“The CDM, which is a very important mechanism to price and monitor emissions reductions, has to be in synergy with national policies,” he said. “They cannot be in conflict.”

“We know very clearly where we want to go,” Hauser continued. “We know the tools that we have and there is a creative path of combining solutions, getting new results and moving toward this global, comprehensive carbon markets that we need for the future.”

This Week In V-Carbon: Your Guide To COP 20

3 December 2014 | Will climate change render the world merely increasingly unpleasant or uninhabitable? That depends in part on the outcome of the 20th meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru, which started on Monday. Though a recent World Bank and Potsdam Institute report finds that we’re already locked into 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, there is still a chance to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees scientists’ best guess at the “tipping point” between a livable climate and a too-hostile one.
Since last year, the UNFCCC process has been turned on its head as countries transitioned from trying to negotiate a top-down agreement to building a bottom-up framework based on “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” or INDCs. Ecosystem Marketplace Editor Steve Zwick’s recent guide to the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) offers an annotated reading list for understanding the “alphabet soup” of the negotiations.

The role of market-based mechanisms to reduce global emissions remains uncertain, though a United Kingdom official called such a market “the most important part of any international agreement.” Last year’s negotiations did solidify a “Rulebook” for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and degradation of Forests (REDD), and countries are beginning to design systems that could eventually allow for large-scale finance to flow from polluters to tropical forest countries as payments for verified emissions reductions.

 

Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report, released on November 21, found that demand for forest carbon offsets grew 17% in 2013 as companies and governments invested $192 million in forest conservation and protection. More than 80% of offsets transacted from REDD projects, and the majority of those were sourced from Latin America, with Brazil and Peru alone supplying more than half of forest carbon offsets globally.

 

Certain developments such as a $40-million agreement between the Brazilian state of Acre and the German development bank KfW to deliver eight million tonnes of emissions reductions over four years indicate that payments for performance for REDD could scale up to the jurisdictional and eventually national level. The New York Declaration on Forests signed by governments and corporations in September included another $1 billion in financial pledges with the goal of halving deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030.

 

We’ll be in Lima following these developments closely, so check EcosystemMarketplace.com throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter (@EcoMarketplace) for breaking news.

 

COP 20 in Lima will cap off what has been a busy year for climate change news. What do YOU think were the biggest stories of 2014? Tell us here. While you’re putting your own spin on the news of the year, let us know what direction you think we’re headed in 2015. We’ll review our readers’ top 10 for the year gone by and predictions for the year ahead in a special New Year’s edition of V-Carbon.

 

The Editors

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

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V-Carbon News

VOLUNTARY CARBON

Real reductions in the enchanted forest

The community of San Juan Lachao has launched the first pilot project under the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Mexico forest protocol, first approved in October 2013. The project will improve forest management across 25,000 hectares, provide 30 direct jobs (and 150 indirect jobs) to the Chatina indigenous community, and generate 20,000 offsets per year. Developed with the assistance of environmental nonprofit Pronatura, Walt Disney is providing financial assistance to get the pilot off the ground. “We developed it to be adaptable to Mexico’s REDD+ program as a nested project in the future,” said John Nickerson, CAR’s Director of Forestry. Disney’s internal carbon tax has generated more than $48 million for carbon offset and other projects.

Read more here

Computing the cost of carbon

Microsoft has achieved its goal set in July 2012 of becoming a carbon neutral company. As part of its commitment, the company set a voluntary fee on carbon of $6 per tonne across its 14 business divisions. The funds generated have been used to offset more than 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The company’s offset purchases have included the Kasigau Corridor REDD project in Kenya and the Oddar Meanchey forest protection project in Cambodia.

Read more here

Offsets and then some

Carbon offset reduction projects are increasingly becoming important for more than just their impacts on climate change. “The more co-benefits a project can offer, the better story you can tell around the carbon reductions,” says Jochen Gassner, of First Climate, a Frankfurt, Germany-based carbon offset and water services provider. That sentiment was borne out by Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report, which found that co-benefit projects such as REDD+, clean cookstoves and water filtration accounted for two-thirds of the voluntary offset market. Examples of co-benefits beyond carbon sequestration include watershed protection, biodiversity gains and reduced health risks. REDD+ projects are seen as particularly attractive to offset buyers due to the social and economic co-benefits to local communities.

Read more here

COMPLIANCE CARBON

Laying out the unwelcome mat

Guangdong pilot carbon market is moving to ban offsets generated from projects such as hydropower, waste heat utilization and any power or heat generation project using fossil fuels, according to draft regulations. China national regulator allows developers to use China Certified Emission Reductions to offset 5-10% of the total obligations of companies covered by the trading system. But local authorities determine what offsets can be traded and none of the 6.5 million offsets the national regulator approved this week would be eligible in Guangdong. There still a chance for those project types in other pilots as offsets used in the pilot markets are expected to be eligible for a national program. Su Wei, Chinas chief climate negotiator, said those rules could be unveiled by the end of this year.

Read more from RTCC here
Read more from Reuters here

Sitting on the border

The Canadian province of Ontario has not ruled out joining the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. “We are just beginning our conversations and our discussions, a partnership with industries,” Ontario’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said. Ontario was once a full member of the 7-US state, 4-Canadian province coalition that once formed the WCI, but California and Quebec are the only two WCI trading partners at this time. They held their first linked auction in late November after a nearly week-long postponement caused by technical problems with the auction platform.

Read more from Sun News Network here
Read more from the Sacromento Bee here

Oh, how the mighty have fallen

New Zealand Carbon Farming is suing Mighty River Power for $34.7 million over carbon offsets the energy company contracted to buy to offset carbon emissions from electricity generation. The case is based on a methodology change governing the generation of forest offsets under New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Mighty River Power is resisting the claim because it could be forced to buy significantly more forest carbon offsets than expected, which would double the value of its 15-year contract with New Zealand Carbon Farming.

Read more here

CARBON FINANCE

The pot of gold keeps getting brighter

The Green Climate Fund has received $9.7 billion in pledges from developed countries, just short of an initial $10 billion fundraising target. The fund aims to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Developed nations have vowed that developing countries would receive $100 billion per year for such initiatives by 2020. The United States and Japan are the biggest contributors to the fund to date, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Hela Cheikhrouhou, the fund’s executive director, said the money would be spent equally on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Read more from BCC here
Read more from the Green Climate Fund here

First come, first serve

State-owned power generator Huaneng set up China’s first carbon fund, valued at 30 million yuan ($4.9 million), which will focus on trading carbon permits in the pilot emissions trading system in Hubei province. The Hubei market is the most liquid of China’s seven pilot schemes, with daily trading averaging around 40,000 permits since trading began in February. The generator’s local subsidiary also obtained a 300 million yuan loan from the China Construction Bank by using carbon permits as collateral, the second time permits have been used for that purpose in China. The Hubei program caps carbon dioxide emissions from about 140 power generators and manufacturers.

Read more from Reuters here
Read more from the Himalayan Times here

STANDARDS & METHODOLOGIES

Double trouble no more

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCB) have traditionally worked in tandem. Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report found that 85% of all VCS projects were also developed using CCB guidelines, in recognition of the importance of verifying additional social, economic and biodiversity co-benefits. That collaboration now goes a step further, with VCS managing day-to-day activities of the CCB. While project developers shouldn’t expect to see any changes now, future projects will be able to gain dual accreditation at once. VCS CEO David Antonioli expects that the alliance will streamline the process and make it less expensive to use both methodologies over time.

Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here
Read more from VCS here

Come one, come all!

The American Carbon Registry (ACR) opened a public comment period to gain feedback on two proposals. The first is an update to its ACR Standard the organization is finalizing the version 4.0 changes to be effective starting on January 1. The comments can include anything from requirements and/or specifications regarding the quantification, monitoring, reporting, verification of projects and more. The second proposal open to discussion is a modification to ACR’s 2012 Restoration of Degraded Deltaic Wetlands of the Mississippi Delta modular methodology. The modification would add tree and soil carbon sequestration reduction and organic matter decomposition emissions, reflecting the newest scientific understandings of wetland emissions dynamics. Interested parties should send comments to ACR@winrock.org by December 22.

Read more here

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

The deforestation is in the details

Though Indonesia created a National REDD+ Agency late last year, the country faced a host of forestry data problems, including conflicting data sets and poor access and data management, before it could move on to actually creating a REDD+ program. This will soon change, though, as Indonesia just announced it is ready to submit a deforestation baseline to the forest reference emissions level, a global benchmark required for any countries to measure their progress with REDD+. A team of experts from across government and international organizations determined that country’s deforestation rate benchmark is 671,420 hectares per year. The government will submit its results during the COP in Lima.

Read more here

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INDCs, REDD+, And The Alphabet Soup Of COP 20

1 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru If you haven’t heard of INDCs, you’re not alone. Try finding them on Google News, and you’ll end up learning more about what’s happening “in DC” (the US Capitol) than about the “Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions” that have re-framed global climate negotiations that begin here today.

Hatched in the closing hours of last year’s talks in Warsaw, INDCs turn the negotiating process on its head. In place of the quixotic quest for a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution, negotiators are now aiming to build a bottom-up framework that lets individual countries attack the most vexing challenge of our day  and each in its own way.

In simple terms, INDCs are the concrete, specific proposals that individual countries will begin submitting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the first quarter of next year. Done right, their emergence could be the biggest diplomatic breakthrough in climate negotiations since the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Done wrong, however, INDCs could be the biggest can-kicking since the Bali Action Plan a misnomer that split the talks into two parallel (yet supposedly convergent) streams in 2007.

Why “Nationally Determined”?

Like the “Action Plan”, INDCs were created to end a stalemate between developed countries and powerhouse developing countries like China and Brazil. Unlike the Action Plan, however, the Warsaw Roadmap that created INDCs inherently recognizes the fact that, by definition, parallel lines don’t converge.

They must, however, be on the same plane and point in the same direction, and the Lima talks are where that orientation will happen or not.

If negotiators get INDCs right in Lima, we’ll have a race to the top like the one the United States and China embarked on last month, when the US unveiled part of its emerging INDC. If negotiators get it wrong, however, we’ll have more of the screwball tragedy that’s left us in limbo for decades.

In our effort to keep up to speed on the process, we’ve pored through all the research we could find and then distilled this short list of the very best work exploring INDCs and the land-use issues that we focus on. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a fundamental one that gives you what you need to know to understand the events as they unfold in Lima.

We’ve arranged them in order from the simplest and most general to the more complex and specialized.

The Big Picture: a Tale of Two Time Frames

We’ll circle back to INDCs later, but first some context.

The Lima talks are a precursor to the big finale next year in Paris, and the Paris talks will yield a plan of attack for two time frames: 2015-2020 and then post-2020. INDCs apply to what happens after 2020, and the most interesting stuff in the 2015-2020 period might not come from within the UNFCCC, but from businesses, donors, and subnational initiatives.

Jennifer Morgan and David Waskow of the World Resources Institute (WRI) provided a fairly clear frame when they laid out five objectives for Lima: first, agree on what constitutes an INDC; second, establish a process to assess country plans for action; third, narrow down the negotiating text and ensure the agreement has staying power; fourth, come up with a realistic financing plan; and fifth, get the 2015-2020 stuff up and running. WRI also held an enlightening press conference that fleshes these ideas out further.

Technically speaking, the talks are happening in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which is usually called the “ADP” and is chaired by Kishan Kumarsingh of Trinidad and Tobago and Artur Runge-Metzger of the European Union.

The ADP has two work-streams: the 2015-2020 stream, which is “Work-stream 1” and the post-2020 stream, which is called “Work-stream 2”.

Big-Picture Reading

By far the simplest, most accessible introduction to the talks is the Guide to the Negotiations, which the Institute of la Francophonie for Sustainable Development (IFDD) publishes every year, along with an even simpler Summary for Policymakers.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) also posts an incredibly clear curtain raiser at the start of every COP. It offers a detailed history of the talks from day one They also publish the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, which covers every twist and turn of the talks, but won’t make sense if you don’t already know the players and the game.

If you want to go deeper, the Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG), has two papers that will take you into the weeds. The first, “Taking Stock of the UNFCCC Process and its Inter-linkages” is by Gregory Briner, Takayoshi Kato, Susanne Konrad and Christina Hood. It offers an encyclopaedic dive into the tangled mess of institutions that have emerged as the UNFCCC has progressed.

The second, The Role of the 2015 Agreement in Mobilising Climate Finance, is by Takayoshi Kato, Jane Ellis and Christa Clapp. It offers a somewhat wonky but handy overview of the ways carbon finance can flow into sustainable land-use between 2015 and 2020.

For real-time tracking, visit the Forest Trends’ REDD Expenditures Tracking Project (REDDX), which keeps tabs on donor commitments and deliveries for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in the here and now. At last check, it shows that donors have committed a massive $4.5 billion to scale up REDD+, but they’ve delivered less than $600 million of that, and almost all of what they have delivered has gone into “REDD Readiness”.

For a more general take on the overall discussions, the Climate Action Network (CAN) provides daily coverage culled from more than 700 NGOs in 95 countries.

Back to INDCs

After Lima, Countries will then spend about three months uploading their INDCs to the UNFCCC web site, ramping up an iterative process designed to blend the bottom-up INDCs with top-down reality checks, culminating, we hope, with a global agreement at the Paris Climate Summit (COP 21) at the end of 2015.

At that point, contributions become commitments again, but they’ll be commitments to specific actions that suit each country’s reality, rather than to a one-size-fits all agreement that, in reality, never quite fit anyone right.

It’s a process that began in Warsaw and reached a fever pitch in Bonn, Germany, after more than two dozen countries submitted their ideas. In July, Kumarsingh and Runge-Metzger distilled those proposals into a draft negotiating text on INDCs. This draft text is essentially a laundry list of activities, and you can expect it to expand and contract quite a lot in Lima.

INDCs and Comparability: a Reading List

To work, INDCs have to be transparent and comparable across countries. If most countries feel the INDCs are fair, the theory goes, they’ll play the game to win, rather than simply not to lose.

Niklas Hí¶hne, Hanna Fekete, and Markus Hagemann recently summarized the challenge on the New Climate blog.

“INDCs of countries with similar circumstances will have to be judged by others to be equally ambitious,” they wrote. “But how can you judge whether a country’s contribution is fair and ambitious in comparison to others, when all 194 countries are very different in development, industrial structure, capabilities and responsibilities and these aspects even change over time?”

It’s a short and quite readable piece that offers five potential indicators and links to several enlightening examples, but for a more philosophical dive, you can turn to “Comparability of Effort in International Climate Policy Architecture“, a discussion paper published at the very beginning of the year by Joseph Aldy of Harvard and William Pizer of Duke in January.

The paper begins by proposing four attributes of a good metric (comprehensive, observable, replicable, and broadly applicable), but its real value is the solid, nuts-and-bolts comparison of ideas that have been in the air for years, and that some countries love and some hate. They look at different ways of measuring emission levels, different ways of thinking about a carbon price, and different ways of using taxes and trade to enforce bilateral agreements to make sure countries don’t inadvertently export their emissions.

Similar ideas surfaced in a less formal context at the University of Chicago last month, in a debate over what Milton Friedman might do to combat climate change.

If comparability seems overwhelming, check out WRI’s CAIT Equity Explorer. It’s a nifty tool that lets countries make comparisons based on their levels of development, their emissions, and how vulnerable they are to climate change.

For some insight into the INDCs we may see from developing countries, check out “A Mitigation Analysis of CDKN Priority Countries“, which the Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) published In July. Published by Helen Picot, Kiran Sura and Christopher Webb, it takes stock of efforts already underway in several developing countries including India that together account for 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

REDD+ and INDCs

Negotiators finalized the REDD+ Rulebook last year in Warsaw, so there’s plenty of guidance on carbon accounting and finance as it will evolve under the UNFCCC which is different from how it’s evolved in regional and private programs. For an understanding of how is playing out in practice, our annual State of the Forest Carbon Markets offers a comprehensive overview of the trends in forest carbon distilled from more than 400 projects over the past decade.

Under the UNFCCC, there are still some technical issues to be worked out: specifically, how to develop Safeguard Information Systems (SIS), and then whether Bolivia’s proposal for non-market REDD will get a hearing. The ADP has passed these two issues to The Subsidiary Body for Science and Technologic Advice (SBSTA).

“We do not expect significant new guidance to be agreed upon, as many REDD+ countries are just beginning to create or design these systems and will be skeptical of more explicit guidance that may not be relevant to their country context,” wrote Chris Meyer of EDF in his blog.

Still, safeguards are always a contentious issue, and CIFOR published a guide that’s more readable than its title: “Multi-Level Policy Dialogues, Processes, and Actions: Challenges and Opportunities for National REDD+ Safeguards Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV)“.

REDD and LULUCF in the UNFCCC

Everyone seems to know what REDD is these days, but how about LULUCF?

It stands for “Land Use, Land-Use-Change, and Forestry”, and it basically means that developed countries have to keep track of their emissions from forests, farms, and fields and they have to report those emissions over time as forests become farms and fields become forests.

LULUCF pre-dates REDD, and negotiators harvested the LULUCF accounting rules to make REDD. Then came the Bali Action Plan, with its two separate negotiating tracks, and LULUCF was in the Kyoto negotiating track, while REDD was in the other track. What’s more, because REDD was going to be a voluntary activity involving massive payments, its accounting mechanisms evolved, while LULUCF’s didn’t. On top of that, LULUCF has a ton of loopholes, not the least of which is that countries can choose which activities they report and which they don’t rendering it, in the views of some, meaningless.

In Lima, negotiators will be wrestling with this discrepancy, and fortunately there’s an explainer called “Understanding Land Use in the UNFCCC“. Co-written by Marcelo Rocha and Peter Iversen, who co-chair the contact group focused on LULUCF, and Donna Lee, who used to head the US negotiations on REDD+, it offers a detailed history of this evolution going back to the early reporting requirements of the 1990s and moving into the present. Its weakness is that it’s a bit uneven: it spoon-feeds some information, but then sends others flying at you in a torrent. Some parts are impossible to understand without some guidance which Rocha and Iversen do offer in a series of four webinars that you can watch here.

The CCXG has another paper in the section one we could have included further up, but are putting here because, despite its title, it’s pretty heavily focused on land-use: “Planting the Foundations of a post-2020 Accounting Framework“, by Gregory Briner and Susanne Konrad, picks up where Rocha, Iversen, and Lee left off and looks at how land-use issues can evolve in both the long and short term.

Indigenous Leaders Call Foul On Once-Revered Catholic Organization

22 December 2014 | Julio Surui couldn’t believe his eyes.

He and other members of the Paiter-Surui Parliament had worked hard to eject illegal loggers from their indigenous territory in the Amazon, and they’d mostly succeeded: all but a few of the loggers who once ran roughshod over their territory were gone, and as a result, the traditional hunting grounds had come back to life, while the children had begun to embrace their forgotten traditions even as they learned to navigate the outside world.

That doesn’t mean the logging threat was over. Far from it. Loggers had threatened to murder Julio and other members of the community who locked them out, and those threats gained credibility in September and November, when loggers and miners assassinated leaders of the Ashéninka and Shuar people in Peru and Ecuador. Earlier, police had uncovered a plot to assassinate Almir Surui, the Paiter-Surui’s “chief of chiefs”, or Labiway Esaga, and federal authorities had placed him under 24-hour armed protection.

Disturbingly, some members of the Paiter-Surui were colluding with loggers, but their activities were concentrated around one entry point, known as “Line 14″, and Julio and the Parliament knew them well. They were the remnants of an old guard who had a long and complex relationship with loggers dating back to the 1980s. The current leadership saw their activities as a troubling but manageable nuisance, akin to the challenges that any government faces when dealing with, say, illegal dumping or building-code violations.

Yet when the young indigenous leader opened the latest copy of Porantim, the flagship publication of Brazil’s Missionary Council for Indigenous Peoples (Conselho Indigenista Missionário, “CIMI”), he saw the leader of the logging faction, Henrique Yabaday Surui, staring back at him.

The Disconnect

CIMI is a Catholic organization revered among many indigenes, but Henrique is known among his people as the main dissident selling illegal hardwood along Line 14. For Julio, it was a surreal experience – in part because the photo was of Henrique in his heyday, when he was a charismatic leader whose collusion with loggers had the support of the community. In fact, the entire magazine was full of old images, often of long-dead Paiter-Surui – an act considered an insult to their people.

 The Paiter-Surui Metareilá Indigenous Association's response to Porantim's broadside on their efforts to combat deforestation
The Paiter-Surui Metareilá Indigenous Association’s response to Porantim’s broadside on their efforts to combat deforestation.

But what struck Julio the hardest were Henrique’s words (available in English here). They seemed to come from a dystopian parallel universe – one where Henrique and his small contingent of loggers were defending indigenous traditions, and where the duly-elected Parliament didn’t exist.

Not only that, but the interview – and in fact the entire magazine – seemed contrived to torpedo the Surui Forest Carbon Project (SFCP), which taps carbon markets to save their forest. The SFCP uses a financing mechanism called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) to generate carbon offsets based on the carbon content of the trees that the project saves, and it’s what enabled them to eject the loggers.

Incensed, Julio did something unprecedented. He sat down at his computer and used his Facebook pageto boldly and publicly call out a powerful organization revered by older indigenous people, but increasingly under fire from younger indigenes more interested in exercising their autonomy.

“I, Julio Surui, acting in my capacity as a representative of the Makor Parliamentary System of Governance of the Paiter-Surui people, hereby condemn Porantim, the newspaper of the Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI),” he began – and he wasn’t alone.

CIMI: Ends and Means

We reached out to CIMI for comment, but they have not yet responded.

No one denies that the organization fought hard to secure demarcation of indigenous lands in the 1970s, and it continues to do good work today, but many indigenous leaders say it’s become paternalistic and heavy-handed in dealing with indigenes who don’t toe the party line.

That party line is laid out quite clearly in the closing pages of Porantim: “We need to regain the memory of humanity on our links with nature, expressed in Sumak Kawsay (Live Well),” it reads. “The environment, and the cultures living in harmony with it, should be the basis for human development and societies; not an item of the market economy.”* (Italics added.)

While many indigenous leaders, including Almir and Julio Surui, support CIMI’s efforts to protect uncontacted tribes, of which there are more than 60 still, the organization has a long history of locking horns with indigenous leaders whose vision differs from theirs.

“They see us as their little Indians,” Almir once said. “They think they know better than we do how we should lead our lives, and they punish us when we don’t follow orders.”

Even Ailton Krenak, the indigenous leader who was instrumental in getting indigenous rights enshrined in the Brazilian constitution, ran afoul of CIMI when he helped the Paiter-Surui launch their early efforts at sustainable agriculture in the late 1980s – efforts that failed initially, but formed the basis of the community’s current sustainable development program. The payback came when he embarked on a fundraising tour of the United States with legendary Brazilian entertainer Milton Nascimento. CIMI accused him of pocketing the proceeds of that tour for himself – accusations that later proved baseless.

Almir locked horns with CIMI throughout the 1990s, as he chose to cooperate with the World Bank rather than fight them, but the Paiter-Surui felt the full wrath of CIMI when Almir launched the REDD Project.

Almir and Henrique: The Rivalry That Defines a People

To understand the REDD Project, you have to understand the Paiter-Surui political constellation, which centers on their relationship with the forest. One pole of the constellation sees the forest as a source of timber, and the other sees it as a source of life, with most members scattered in between.


    • For a detailed examination of the history of logging in the Surui Territory, see “Almir Surui: Perseverance Under Pressure“.
    • Disclosure: The author is working with Chief Almir on his autobiography, and has interviewed him and scores of other members of the community, including those in Henrique’s camp, extensively. Efforts to speak with Henrique himself or with CIMI have been unsuccessful.

 


Henrique is a former Labiway Esaga who first won office in the 1980s on a platform that was decidedly pro-development: he wanted to chop the forest to meet the needs of his people. Almir emerged as Henrique’s primary rival in the 1990s, and advocated a platform of conservation.

The two men are as different tempermentally as they are philosophically. In his youth, Henrique was courageous and had a flair for the dramatic. Though an advocate of logging, he wasn’t afraid to pull arms on loggers who short-changed his people, and he engaged in bloody battles with them in the 1990s. He also spoke truth to power, and once pulled his bow and arrow on a Brazilian Senator named Antonio Carlos Magalhães – only to be grabbed from behind by environmentalist and eventual presidential candidate Marina Silva. Almir is more deliberative, and tends to seek compromise over conflict.

To this day, the Paiter-Surui are roughly split into three schools of thought: Almir’s school is dead-set against chopping the forest, while Henrique’s school advocates logging. The middle school – possibly the majority – is akin to the global middle class: they don’t want to chop the trees, but they need to feed their families, and in the early days, Henrique’s logging activities seemed to meet that need. Over time, as Almir found ways to make money for his people by protecting the forest, his star rose as Henrique’s set.

Almir’s efforts culminated with the REDD project, which propelled Almir into the positon of Labiway Esaga in 2010.

The REDD Project: Public and Private Goods

Money from the REDD initiative goes into a segregated account held by the Fundo Brasileiro Para a Biodiversidade (FUNBIO), and it’s used to pay for specific activities designed to jump-start a 50-Year “Life Plan” that grew out of Krenak’s early efforts to help the Surui revive traditional practices. The plan supports their traditional practices by creating an economy built on sustainable forest products like Brazil nuts and acai, as well as ecotourism and traditional handicrafts.

Early funding is key to implementing the plan, and if the Paiter-Surui are to earn all the offsets they hope to, they must keep illegal deforestation at a level 90% lower than what it was in the past. So, when the Paiter-Surui Parliament learned that Henrique had started letting loggers back into the territory, they confronted him. When Henrique refused to halt his activities, Almir invited local police to accompany him on a helicopter flight over Henrique’s village to see if they could help.

“The police saw the loggers,” Almir says. “But they told us it was an internal matter for us to sort out ourselves.”

The Interview

The internal matter became part of the national debate when CIMI interviewed Henrique, whose version of events differed considerably from that of most members of the community.

“We are now in the hands of the Federal Police, who threaten us for anything – from taking trees for our own needs to hunting on our own land,” Henrique is quoted as saying – a statement that had a germ of truth in it. After all, Almir had called the police, but they’d refused to act, and the only federal police who entered the territory were Almir’s bodyguards, who were assigned to protect him after loggers threatened his life.”

And as for restrictions on hunting?

“The Paiter-Surui 50-Year Plan never banned the use of the Earth, much less hunting, fishing, or the creation of new agricultural plots developed in a traditional and sustainable way,” wrote Almir on his Facebook page. “The only activities we oppose are the illegal extraction of timber at an unfair price or the leasing of the Earth to invaders for fishing and poaching – activities long supported and authorized by Henrique Surui.”

Henrique went on to allege that members of the Surui had been told that REDD funding would flow directly into their accounts, but both Julio and Almir deny ever making such promises – and, in fact, Almir’s 50-Year plan explicitly focused on the common good.

Julio’s Response

“I found it rather absurd to read the false accusations and slanderous statements against Almir Surui, his 50-Year Plan, (plano de gestão do território Sete de Setembro), and the Surui Forest Carbon Project,” wrote Julio. “The fact is that there are other interests behind these false accusations and affirmations, seeking to empower the illegal exploitation of timber and the natural resources of the Surui traditional lands.”

He then asked why CIMI would turn a blind eye to illegal logging while sabotaging a mechanism that was delivering tangible benefits.

“It is absurd that CIMI supports this act, committing a grave crime by causing division and intrigue among the Surui people,” he wrote. “Does the Church really support this? Why have they not protested the illegal exploitation of timber and the other illegal activities that are happening within the Surui Indigenous Lands?”

Other Responses

And he wasn’t the only one speaking up. The Metareilá Indigenous people’s Association, which speaks in one voice on behalf of the four clans of the Paiter-Surui and acts as project proponent for the REDD Project, formally denounced CIMI on their Facebook page as well.

“When a newspaper of the Missionary Council for Indigenous Peoples strikes an indigenous project with the serious accusations of misuse of money, purchase of leaders, federal police coercion, transfer of territory and preventing the exercise of traditional activities, it is necessary to react,” they wrote – adding that they had filed a formal complaint with the Ethics Committee of the Federal Journalism Society (Sindicato dos Jornalistas do Distrito Federal).

“We know that CIMI has deep ideological divergence in relation to environmental compensation projects, and we are able to follow the debate on this subject, and even participate in it,” they continued. “However, we hoped that the members of that entity knew the difference between debating an environmental issue and conducting an outright smear campaign against the name and reputation of an entire indigenous people.”

Beyond the Paiter-Surui

Members of the neighboring Gavião and Arara took issue with CIMI’s broadside.

Both peoples are exploring the use of REDD to implement long-term life plans, and both are working with COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin / Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica), an umbrella organization of indigenous organizations across the Amazon, on something called “Indigenous REDD”, which also aims to harness carbon finance to support indigenous Life Plans, but may or may not tap markets. The discussions have been going on for several years, but Henrique’s comments portrayed the two peoples as naïvely stumbling into a bad deal. Delson Gavião, head of the Padereehj Association, issued a formal condemnation of his own, also posted on Facebook.

“These are lies aimed at harming indigenous people and damaging projects that are running correctly and helping to protect indigenous lands from the advance of illegal logging and the destruction of the forest,” he wrote. “We reject the comments of Henrique Surui, which were published by CIMI, because neither he nor they have been on our land to discuss the projects we’re executing, much less done anything to address the problem of illegal logging on indigenous lands.”

He went on to attack “the disrespectful attitude of CIMI and Henrique Surui, which only serves to propagate lies, divide the indigenous people, facilitate the theft of wood, and enable colonial invasions in our lands. We do not allow anyone – whether ‘white’ or indigenous – to treat our people and institutions with disrespect.”

Almir Responds

Fearing that Henrique’s comments would drive a wedge between his people and their neighbors, Almir – who had long asked his people to go easy on Henrique – then took to Facebook as well to make it clear that Henrique did not speak for the majority of his people, and todetail Henrique’s record.

“Does he, by any chance, have another project or initiative better for the Paiter-Surui?” he asked. “As far as I know, Henrique Surui is the greatest destroyer of our forests and their rich biodiversity, because he has been involved for quite some time in the illegal sale of timber, and he works day-by-day to convince other people and families to join him in his illegal activities.”

But he also took CIMI to task, and accused them of manipulating Henrique, who has been working through some health issues at CIMI facilities.

“We will not let a single indigene, one who had been involved in the sale of illegal timber and manipulated by CIMI, disrupt our strategic plan or interfere with the strengthening of the autonomy of our people,” he wrote.

Other members of the community have called on Almir to file a complaint with the Vatican, where Pope Francis used his Christmas address to rail against the Curia for acting as “lords of the manor – superior to everyone and everything.”

For acting, in other words, the way these indigenous leaders say CIMI has been behaving.

Wednesday In Lima: Indigenous Organizations To Propose Use Of Life Plan Success As Benchmark For REDD+

1 December 2014 | LIMA | Peru | Indigenous people across the Amazon have created “Life Plans” to dock their traditional economies and ways of life with the global economy. These plans are built communally in a process that harnesses indigenous traditions, and they have become a fundamental instrument for territorial governance.

A small but growing number of indigenous organizations have begun to use REDD+, (reducing emissions from forest deforestation and degradation) to jump-start their plans, and on Wednesday the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve of Peru and the Federacií³n Nativa del Rí­o Madre de Dios y Afluentes (FENAMAD) will propose a method for using the progress of indigenous life plans as a REDD+ benchmark.

FENAMAD says it has worked in coordination with COINBAMAD, the indigenous council that covers a portion of the Madre de Dios region, and COHARYIMA, another indigenous organization, to build a collective methodology for regarding the lives of the native communities.

Unlike NGOs or private institutions that lack a deep understanding of the indigenous communities, FENAMAD’s methodology involves the local groups. The organization says it aims to work strategically with community leaders to develop viable holistic management and an indigenous economy. Its plan also includes a learning-based approach to resource conservation where local people-either indigenous or not-make the final decisions.

The event will take place at 10am on Wednesday, December 3, in the Indigenous Pavilion.

Objectives

  • Analyze and reflect on the indigenous territory and the role of the management plans
  • Consider Indigenous REDD (REDD + indigenous Amazonian, or “RIA”) as a medium and tool for the life plans implementation drawing from indigenous experience

Methodology

  • There will be two exhibitions on the guiding framework and a panel discussion. A first exhibition details the importance of RIA in the life plan implementation. This exhibition will also generate follow-up questions for the panel discussion:
  • What are the characteristics of the PV with respect to other conventional planning or development plans?
  • How can life plans be taken into consideration by local or regional governments?
  • How can life plans become part of public policy? A second exhibition will reflect on the role of life plans in the managed indigenous territories. This exhibition will generate the following questions for the panel discussion:
  • Is it important for indigenous communities to have its life plan developed before deciding to implement REDD activities?
  • If another community is about to begin its life plan process, what recommendations would you give them?
  • How can the life plans be understood by everyone in the community-both men and women?

The panel discussion, represented by three indigenous people, will follow the exhibitions. Each panel member shall respond to the questions asked in the context of the case study they’re presenting on. Finally the session closes with an expert discussing final key thoughts.

Agenda

 

No

Duration

Session

Presenter

 

1 5 minutes

Welcome

President of ORAU
2 15 minutes RIA as key element in the implementation of life plans

  • What are the characteristics of the life plans with respect to other conventional planning or development plans?
  • How can life plans be taken into consideration by local or regional governments?
  • How can life plans become part of public policy?
Fermí­n Chimatani ECA RCA
4 15 minutes Reflections on the role of life plans in managed territory

  • Is it important for indigenous communities to have its life plan developed before deciding to implement REDD activities?
  • If another community is about to begin its life plan process, what recommendations would you give them?
  • How can the life plans be understood by everyone in the community-both men and women?
Chris Van Dam Forest Trends/AIME
Panel Discussion

5 20 minutes Final thoughts: Challenges, articulations and key messages Miguel Macedo Unidad de Apoyo ICAA

Flood Disaster in the Amazon: A Fight Against Climate Change Gets Personal

30 November 2014 |The rain hit hard and fast, and in the dead of night. “The people woke up around midnight, and the water was everywhere. Houses were destroyed, children were crying,” says Chief Tashka Yawanaw¡ of the Yawanaw¡ indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

On November 15, a devastating flood hit Tashka’s community in the Rio Greg³rio Indigenous Territory in the state of Acre, Brazil. The disaster took a heavy toll on all seven villages of the Yawanaw¡, where more than 565 people now live. Along with their homes, many families lost all their belongings, including essential items like boats, generators, well pumps, solar panels, clothing, food, and furniture. Livestock and crops were washed completely away in the deluge.

 

Ya1

Images of the Yawanaw¡ community, after flooding (Photo credit: TEDGlobal)

The community straddles the Greg³rio River, which rose to never-before-seen heights, sweeping away the villages. The people fled the rising water into higher land, in the jungle, remaining there until the waters began to recede.

“There was nothing anyone could do,” says Tashka. “Because the water came so fast and strong. For three or four days, it was all under water. That was really scary. Thanks to the Creator, nobody died. But we lost almost everything we had. It makes people really sad. People are trying to find their belongings now, but it looks like the water has taken everything.” The Yawanaw¡ plan to rebuild on higher land, but they need support. They are establishing a fund, “SOS Yawanaw¡,” through which people can help out.

“I heard of one man who was in another village during the flooding,” says Tashka. “When he came back to his house, he found nothing. Nothing was there. He could not believe it. Imagine if you returned to your home, and your home is disappeared. That man just sat down and started crying.”

 

A Leader in the Fight Against Climate Change

Just last month, Tashka gave a TEDTalk during the opening session of one of the largest conferences in the world, TEDGlobal in Rio, which featured speakers and performers from all over the world. Of the 65 speakers, Tashka was the only indigenous person presenting. He told the audience how his community has been working hard for decades now to protect their home–the forest–from outside interests like ranching and mining, which see more value in a clear-cut forest than a living forest.

Tashka told the crowd of his dedication to working in response to climate change, a problem to which his people are particularly vulnerable–as last week’s floods revealed in sharp and tragic focus.

November is the start of the rainy season in the Amazon, but last week’s unprecedented amount of rain, explains Tashka now, is symptomatic of a changing climate. “One of the shamans in our village told me that the rain looked like somebody was very angry and passed by here and destroyed everything,” he says. “They did this to advise us about what’s really happening with our planet.”

While scientists are reticent to tie any individual disaster to climate change, they consistently warn of extreme weather–deeper droughts and unprecedented  intense rains. This one certainly fits that pattern.

“We have lived in this territory for time immemorial, and this has never happened,” says Tashka. “Never in our history. How we see it is that the whole climate is changing. Nature reacts differently now.”

 

Indigenous People Particularly Vulnerable

Communities like the Yawanaw¡ are especially threatened by the impacts of climate change, as explained in a 2008 “backgrounder” paper from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: “Indigenous peoples are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, owing to their dependence upon, and close relationship with the environment and its resources. Climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by vulnerable indigenous communities, including political and economic marginalization, loss of land and resources, human rights violations, discrimination and unemployment.”

In Tashka’s case, the damage wrought by the flooding is particularly heartbreaking, given the fact that he dedicates his life to engaging in practices and with tools that enable his community to keep their forest home alive standing–and doing its vital work of keeping carbon locked in trees instead of in the atmosphere, a key component to global warming and climate change mitigation.

“Climate change poses threats and dangers to the survival of indigenous communities worldwide, even though indigenous peoples contribute little to greenhouse emissions,” reports the UN paper. “In fact, indigenous peoples are vital to, and active in, the many ecosystems that inhabit their lands and territories, and may therefore help enhance the resilience of these ecosystems.”

Tashka has been collaborating with the D.C.-based nonprofit Forest Trends on innovative ways to keep the forest standing, such as implementing economic incentives for supporting the Yawanawa’s traditional forest stewardship via public and private financing. Forest Trends’ Communities and Markets Program has been working with Tashka and other indigenous communities to enable them to better adapt to climate change, by supporting the communities’ Life Plans and integrated territorial governance.

“I am deeply saddened by this loss, as I was there just a few months ago and saw that the community was thriving,” says Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends’ Communities and Markets Program. “The Yawanaw¡, like other indigenous communities, are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as extreme flooding. On the verge of the 20th climate change Conference of the Parties in Peru, global leaders have an obligation to acknowledge and respect the rights of indigenous and other forest-dependent communities into the negotiations.

“Indigenous peoples,” he adds, “have been effective guardians of their forested territories, preventing large amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere through forest clearing and degradation. Yet, the important contributions of these forest guardians to climate change mitigation have resulted in surprisingly few benefits for them.”

 

Recovery and Resilience

The Yawanaw¡ are reeling, understandably. But they are also resilient, and they will rebuild their community. The same determination and focus that has made Tashka Yawanaw¡ an effective and respected leader both within his community and internationally will aid the Yawanaw¡ greatly as they recover.

The world should know, though, explains Tashka, that what happened last week on that terrible night in a few tiny villages in the Amazon has implications that go far beyond his community and his work. As the international climate change negotiations of the Conference of the Parties take place next week in Lima, the representatives in attendance–from all over the world–would do well to remember that fateful night of flooding.

“What has happened to Yawanaw¡,” Tashka says, “It’s just a little piece of what is really happening in the world because of climate change and global warming. A lot of people do not believe that this is really happening right now. But people like us who live with the struggle know what is happening.”

Yet Tashka is hopeful. The same optimism that so impressed audiences at TEDGlobal last month is still with him: “We are doing our part, but other people must also do their part. If we all come together and do something, our little work can become bigger and bigger, and make a real difference in the world.”

Support the Yawanaw¡ as they rebuild by donating here:

Bank name: Banco do Brasil

Account name: Associao Sociocultural Yawanawa

Account number: 63235-x Bank branch/agency: 0071-x

Swiff number: BRASBRRJMNS

Bank address: Rua Arlindo Porto Leal, 85

69908040 Rio Branco – Acre – Brazil

Playing It SAFE: Integrating Energy Into Humanitarian Initiatives

19 November 2014 | In May of this year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced its global strategy for Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE). The announcement marked the culmination of years of work across UN agencies and non-profits to bring attention to the risks women are forced to take when finding fuel for cooking, lighting, and heating.

 Mother cooking on cookstove in Kigeme refugee camp, Rwanda<br /> © Katherine Arnold, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Mother cooking on cookstove in Kigeme refugee camp, Rwanda
© Katherine Arnold, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. 

In humanitarian settings, uncooked food is distributed to refugees and internally displaced people. It falls upon women and children, particularly girls, to find fuel to cook this food sometimes walking up to 10-20 kilometers to find firewood. These needs first started to be addressed 15 years ago. The Sphere Handbook, a guide with minimum standards for humanitarian implementers, was released in 2000 and updated in 2004 and 2011. The handbook identified access to safe and efficient cookstoves, fuels, and lighting as integral to any humanitarian response.

Until 2007, there was no designated group working to encourage humanitarian organizations to comply with these cooking and lighting standards. As a result, these issues languished and refugees, internally displaced persons, and other crisis-affected populations suffered.

In response, organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency, Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), UN World Food Programme (WFP), and others, collaborated to form the SAFE Steering Committee, which the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance) and WRC co-chair.

UNHCR’s announcement of its Global SAFE Strategy is the first big step towards implementation. “The UNHCR strategy formally commits and binds the organization to address these issues instead of having individual projects that are tested for a couple years and then fall off the radar, said Megan Gerrard, Senior Gender-based Violence Prevention Officer at WRC.

The focus now is on developing cohesive strategies, she said. “There have been enough pilot projects that we don’t need to keep reinventing the wheel. We know more or less what has worked well and what has not. We’re really trying to scale up.

Training to be SAFE

Acquiring resources and scaling up training and implementation is the next big challenge.

The Alliance and WRC began tackling the training needs in June, when they teamed up with UNHCR for a SAFE 101 training. The training attracting a mix of UN, non-profit, government, and private sector staff focused on practical, on-the-ground applications and best practices.

For the first two days of training, participants spent time indoors learning how to implement SAFE projects, where to find resources, and best practices for East African humanitarian settings. They then visited refugee camps to see examples of SAFE projects in action.

“We wanted to really prioritize national staff this time around because they are the ones overseeing work on a day-to-day basis and working with the communities in and around the camps, Gerrard said.

Many of the local participants lack funding and resources so the Alliance helped cover event costs and travel for almost all of the 65 participants who attended from 15 countries. Eventually, scaling up implementation will mean that humanitarian programs yearly budgets and proposals must prioritize SAFE, so future trainings may include guidance on grant-writing and developing fundraising strategies.

Gerrard doesn’t expect overnight implementation. “The humanitarian community typically adapts to change very, very slowly largely because of the complexity of the environments we’re working in, she explained.

UNHCR will finalize national energy and environment strategies for five countries in 2014: Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Chad, and Burkina Faso. These countries will then begin implementation in early 2015, and the plans intend to take each country through until 2018. Four more countries will develop national strategies during 2015, for implementation beginning in 2016.

With the latest tracked humanitarian activities in the Alliance’s 2013 Results Report, one-third of the 29 humanitarian projects described utilizing the WFP handbook, which provides guidance on SAFE project planning and monitoring and evaluation, or other SAFE resources. An additional 19 cookstove and fuel projects reported through the SAFE Steering Committee’s online project database representing approximately 400,000 households that were provided with cleaner stoves and fuel in nine countries.

“It’s exciting to see the progress we’ve made on SAFE in the past year, said Corinne Hart, Director of Gender and Humanitarian Programs at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “Our work on the SAFE Steering Committee and UNHCR’s new global strategy has sparked interest on the issue of safe access to fuel and energy for humanitarian populations, and I think the global community is starting to realize that this is an urgent and overlooked problem that needs to be addressed.

For more information, please visit the recently launched SAFE website at www.safefuelandenergy.org.

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

Cookstove Distribution Soars; Carbon Finance Now Top Funding Source

12 November 2014 | Last year, when Hillary Clinton announced the Results Report 2012 at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (“the Alliance”) Leadership Council, she spoke to a crowd including a President, former President, and other notable guests. This year’s report launched quietly online with little fanfare. Though lacking the star-studded attention, the results remain just as important in understanding the latest progress toward ending the four million annual deaths from household air pollution that occur across the globe.

The Results Report 2013 is the second year-long effort by the Alliance to track activities in the improved stoves and fuels market. Like last year, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace assisted with this effort. Unlike 2013, Ecosystem Marketplace administered, analyzed and wrote the most recent report.

A total of 456 Alliance partners responded to this year’s survey, up from 246 in 2012, which means that greater insights can be gleaned about market activities. Of particular note are the headline numbers of stoves distributed: an all-time high of 14.3 million stoves were tracked, a 75% jump from 2012 estimates.

However, both the volume and overall value of cookstove project offsets fell by 63%, to 6.3 million offsets worth $61 million. Likewise, the number of stoves distributed with carbon finance dropped from four million last year to one million stoves in 2013. A look beyond 2012 reveals that the 2013 changes still represent a gradual increase from 2008-2011 (Figure 1); meaning that the market should be viewed as cyclic rather than declining.

The 2013 report did feature some good news for carbon finance in that it was the top reported source of funding, edging out government grants. Last year, government grants totaled 36% of all reported finance while carbon finance made up only 6%. This year, the latter jumped to 36% and government grants subsided to 25%.

Another positive outcome for carbon developers is that pricing remains strong, with the overall price rising a modest 5% to $10.4 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The average voluntary emissions reductions and certified emissions reductions (CER) spot price both rose significantly, to $12.2/tCO2e and $6.4/tCO2e, respectively.

The higher prices found on the voluntary market are reflected in the shift of primary certification types. Last year, over half of cookstoves were developed in compliance with Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) guidelines and only 36% were verified through the Gold Standard (GS) Foundation. This year, GS offsets represented 61% of all transacted volumes, which marks a shift towards targeting voluntary buyers. The CDM made up an additional 37%, with Verified Carbon Standard and dual CDM/GS offsets making up 1% each. While CDM/Joint Implementation (CDM/JI) offsets averaged $6.3/tCO2e, an improvement from 2012, they still don’t match the GS $12.1/tCO2e average.

Despite this shift, compliance markets remain committed to cookstoves. European governments remained willing to pay higher-than-average pricing for cookstove CERs as evidenced by the jump in CER prices. This includes a substantial commitment from the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) to pay above-average prices for offsets that comply with the Europe Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). In late 2013, the SEA confirmed two large-scale contracts to deliver 500,000 offsets each by 2020; scales the project developers said were not possible with constrained voluntary market demand.

Luckily for large-scale projects, Sweden is not the only country considering this. The United Kingdom (U.K.) developed the Carbon Market Finance Programme, which will contribute £50 million between 2013-2025 to support greenhouse gas mitigation and renewable energy generation in least developed countries though increased access to carbon finance.

In December 2013, the World Bank’s Carbon Initiative for Development Fund received additional financial support from Sweden, the U.K. and the Swiss-based ClimateCent Foundation in the form of a $125 million pledge. The Fund targets carbon projects that focus on clean energy technologies.

In September, the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation announced a second call for proposals for the Norwegian Carbon Procurement Facility to “prevent the reversal of emission reduction activities by procuring credits from projects whose survival or continued emission reductions depend on a higher carbon price than achievable under current market conditions.

These initiatives reflect the EU ETS’s new regulation beginning in 2013, which requires compliance buyers to purchase any new CERs from Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Unsurprisingly, Africa, home to the most LDC countries, provided 78% of all carbon offsets. Asia and Latin America snagged an equal share of the rest, with 12% and 10%.

Graph1

 

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

Carbon, Cookstoves, And Kids

When Hurricane Mitch blew through Central America in 1998, the result was catastrophic. The second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history claimed 11,000 lives and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage.

Honduras, a poor country with even poorer infrastructure, did not fare well. Humanitarian aid groups flocked to the region, including medical mission volunteers Richard Lawrence and his daughter Skye. The medical mission headed towards Atima, a town in the mountainous coffee growing-region of the country surrounded by countless rural villages.

Richard Lawrence, Executive Chairman of Overlook Investments and future Founder of Proyecto Mirador, acted as a translator for doctors on the trip. Standing in the midst of the crush of people who waited to see the doctors in a primary school temporarily converted to a medical clinic, he was struck by the number of children lined up against one wall of the schoolroom breathing with nebulizers.

“I’m not a doctor, and I thought, the air seems really clean so it beats me what it’s about, he said.

Skye stumbled upon the explanation by chance, when she visited one of the local children’s homes. The inside of the house was black and filled with smoke from the cooking stove. The stove was constructed of adobe mud, with an oil drum for a cooktop and a wide stove mouth stuffed with logs. There was no chimney, so the smoke curled around the room and turned the ceiling black.

 School children participated in a contest to name the Mirador stove.   Reina Mejia called it Dos por Tres because it is Honduran slang for an in an instant--and she felt that the stove cooked fast, quickly used less wood, quickly got smoke out of the house.
School children participated in a contest to name the Mirador stove. Reina Mejia called it Dos por Tres because it is Honduran slang for an in an instant–and she felt that the stove cooked fast, quickly used less wood, quickly got smoke out of the house.

After research some improved stoves, the family raised money from friends to build 29 stoves designed by Aprovecho Research Center, a US-based stove research organization. An investor by trade, Lawrence couldn’t help making some quick calculations. With improved stoves using half the wood, how long would it take families to earn the rate of return on investment? The answer: in a few short months. People will line up to improve their stoves, he thought.

Thus, Proyecto Mirador was born. But despite the fact that the stoves were popular with users, turning it into a sustainable enterprise wasn’t as easy as those calculations.

Finding the finance

For one, selling the stoves outright was out of the question. In rural Honduras, poverty affects almost two-thirds of the population, and more than half of rural households struggle with extreme poverty, living off of $1.25 a day. Proyecto Mirador targets these villages in Honduras.

While a few families could afford the stoves, the majority couldn’t or wouldn’t purchase one even if the families might recover their costs within two months. Even with available money, men control the purse strings. Since most work outside, fewer health impacts from cookstove smoke and didn’t see the necessity of spending money on cleaner stoves.

Instead, Lawrence’s family and friends financed the early installations. Co-director Do Emilia Mendoza, the wife of a Honduran Episcopal minister and cook for the mission trips, kept costs down by running the enterprise out of her house. Metal sheets and clay parts littered her backyard, and she drove the materials to homes in a pickup truck.

The Lawrences decided early on against relying on donors (or friends) for future funding. They wanted a steady source of financing and – at the time – carbon offsets provided that.

Using initial “donated equity from foundations, Proyecto Mirador spent three years certifying their carbon offsets under the Gold Standard. Though the complicated process took far longer than expected, the gamble worked. Mirador became the 4th project to be certified under the Gold Standard methodology that includes consultation with local stakeholders and provides sustainable outcomes; this was before the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) developed an official Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) cookstove protocol.

Family with clean cookstove. 

“We’ve been fortunate to have success with carbon, Lawrence said, referring to the more than 430,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide offsets sold. “But it’s harder than it should be… I’ve got two people who spend 24-7 reaching out to corporations to try and convince them to offset.

Carbon offsets finance 75% of the stove costs, with families contributing the rest in the form of cement, sand, bricks, adobe and labor. The latter is part of Mirador’s philosophy that stoves are not gifts and that families must “have skin in the game or “No Cuesta, No Cuida (no cost no care). Mirador uses the income from the sale of offsets to provide the plancha cooktop, firebox and chimney; technicians to build the stove; and supervisors who make three regular follow up visits to ensure the proper stove use and maintenance.

Revving up the impact

If the beginning of Proyecto Mirador seems a bit homespun, the result is anything but. The organization has scaled up from building 250 stoves in a year to nearly 125 a day now. With more than 80,000 stoves disseminated in the last five years, the organization has become the largest in Latin America.

While selling the carbon offsets remains an unpleasant task, verifying the offsets has only gotten easier. Though the process takes at least nine months of documentation, reports and technical review, the actual site visit only takes four or five days. The main reason for this quick turnaround is technology.

Around 2010, the stoves were really taking off. Community solicitations, requiring at least 10 families to sign on from a single village, poured in and started the beginnings of the now 2-year backlog of requests. Copycat chimneys started appearing on houses Proyecto Mirador hadn’t visited, making it difficult to follow up with customers. Carbon finance couldn’t cover the costs, so the organization once again turned to foundations.

Using the donations, they hired a consulting firm to build a platform and implemented the first use of Salesforce.com, a well-known customer relationship management product, in Latin America. It took a year for the program to be implemented and an additional three months to train the staff. Donations were used to equip all stove builders and field supervisors with GPS and reporting system to upload information online.

PMtransportation

Entrepreneur teams, called Ejecutores, and Proyecto Mirador staff use smartphones to record and upload data while in the field. Salesforce and GPS points are stored in the cloud, allowing staff to monitor installations and material needs or to provide interactive imagery of stove locations in real time.

“It’s really something,” Lawrence said. “All the employees at the office have been trained and know Salesforce. We built a special holder for the phones on the front of each motorcycle, so when supervisors make home visits, they can identify exactly where the houses are that have our stoves.

Though initially made to keep track of stoves by staff on the ground, the investment also paid off for remote staff. “We use it as much in California as they use it in Honduras, he said, referring to Proyecto Mirador USA, the non-profit side of the organization that manages Gold Standard certification, finds donors and helps with the business issues of Proyecto Mirador, Honduras.

A smoke-free Honduras?

Now, Proyecto Mirador supports 17 full-time businesses: six Ejecutore construction companies, nine suppliers and two consultants. Outsourcing has allowed the organization to go from 250 stoves in a year to a predicted 29,000 stoves this year. However, Proyecto Mirador is still dealing with a backlog of stove requests. These households may have to wait a little longer for their stoves.

“The idea is that we would rather grow in a very measured way than grow exponentially and have troubles and have to stop, he said.

However, health remains at the heart of the organization’s work. Mirador surveyed stove recipients and almost all 99% – reported cleaner indoor air and improved respiratory health after switching. One grandmother, Maria Claudina Diaz Vargas, said: “my granddaughter suffers from a chest ailment and today without smoke she has improved.

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

Food Without Forests? Don’t Count On It

18 December 2014 | While land-use negotiators at the United Nations climate talks tend to focus on the carbon released into the atmosphere when forests are felled. Deforestation does, after all, account for as much as a fifth of global emissions the climatic effects of land-use change go well beyond escaped carbon dioxide molecules. A new study released today in Nature Climate Change culls together the results of dozens of global and regional climate models to demonstrate the effects of deforestation on temperature and rainfall patterns, with implications for farmers around the world.

General circulation models (GCMs) that simulate the Earth’s climate system, including the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface, allow scientists to hypothetically wipe out all tropical forests to see what would happen. These simulations show that a world without forests would be a hotter and drier one.

At the upper end of the models’ projections, a world with forest-bare tropics would be 0.7 degrees Celsius hot. about equal to the global warming since the Industrial Revolution. And this is without including any effects from the three gigatonnes of carbon that deforestation spurts into the atmosphere each year as felled forests decompose.

Tropical forests also move and regulate huge amounts of water, creating crucial micro-climates for plants and animals. Overall, deforestation leads to reductions in rainfall between 10% and 15% in the surrounding area.

“Tropical forests are often talked about as the ‘lungs of the earth,’ but they’re more like the sweat glands,” said Deborah Lawrence, the study’s lead author and a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. “They give off a lot of moisture, which helps keep the planet cool. That crucial function is lost and even reversed when forests are destroyed.”

Observational data the on-the-ground stuff indicates that deforestation has already had staggering effects on local climates. For instance, across deforested sites in Sao Paulo, Brazil, rain events were higher intensity but less frequent compared to areas that kept their forest cover. In Rond´nia, Brazil the wet season has started on average 11 days later in deforested regions but remained unchanged in forested ones.

clua_rainfall_map-03

An Invisible Tipping Point

Complete deforestation of the tropics is a fairly unlikely scenario, as Lawrence and her co-author Karen Vandecar note. So what will happen to Earth’s climate if deforestation continues in its current “business-as-usual” trajectory, with smallholder farmers slashing and burning, palm oil companies clearing their concessions, cattle ranchers grazing their herds, and mining companies splintering new roads into the canopy?

The models suggest that there may be a critical threshold beyond which reduced rainfall due to deforestation “triggers a significant decline in ecosystem structure and function.” For the Amazon, this threshold is likely between 30% and 50%. The tipping point may be different for Africa’s comparatively drier tropical forests where forest fires are more common, releasing aerosols that affect rainfall. Southeast Asia’s tropical forests are naturally more humid and surrounded by oceans, also potentially affecting the climatic point-of-no-return.

“Although the current level and pattern of deforestation may not have pushed tropical climates over a tipping point yet, modelling results at regional to global scales are consistent in their predictions that such a tipping point exists,” Lawrence and Vandecar write.

Not all Deforestation is Created Equal

The models demonstrate that the rateof deforestation doesn’t matter much in terms of the climatic impacts, and that deforestation almost universally leads to temperature increases. However, the pattern matters a lot in terms of effects on rainfall.

Generally speaking, clearing a huge area of rainforest while leaving another huge swath intact reduces rainfall more than if the deforestation is “patchy” across the entire area (even if the same number of trees are cut). And if the deforestation is patchy, the size of those patches also makes a difference. A model that simulated two checkerboard patterns of deforestation one using a 500-kilometer grid and the other using a 200-kilometer grid found that, though both scenarios hypothetically cleared half the forest area, the 500-kilometer grid with both larger bare patches and larger forested patches received more rainfall.

“While somewhat surprising, these results are consistent with research that demonstrates the importance of large patches of forest in promoting or sustaining rainfall downwind,” the authors write.

The Edgier the Better?

However, when the authors looked at regional models at a much smaller scale than the GCMs, they found that clearing very small patches of forest can actually lead to increased rainfall as the hot air over the deforested area rises and mixes with the moist air along the forest edge, leading to cloud formation. The smaller the patches, the more edges and the more rainfall.

So, in addition to a tipping point for the percentage of tropical rainforest that may be lost, there may also be a sweet spot in terms of patch size. These findings may explain apparent contradictions between models that predict drier conditions with large-scale deforestation and real-life observations that find no change or even more rain in some deforested areas.

Earth’s Future Menu

So, what happens if we tumble over the edge of these invisible deforestation tipping points?

The authors suggest that on the other side of the cliff may be a world of strained food production. Without the forests that drive water and wind systems, the breadbaskets of the world even those on entirely different continents from tropical forests could see altered climate conditions.

Models suggest that deforestation in the Amazon could reduce rainfall in the U.S. Midwest, which grows much of the world’s corn. Deforesting the Congo could cause up to a 50% reduction in rainfall and a three-degrees-Celsius temperature rise, affecting cassava, plantain, coffee and cocoa production. And clearing 40% of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall 4% in the Rio de la Plata Basin, a center of soy and wheat production thousands of kilometers away.

On-the-ground observations in the Amazon and elsewhere also show that deforestation can also exacerbate climatic extremes, such as more pronounced dry periods followed by monsoons or much hotter days and cooler nights.

“Farmers, so reliant on consistent and reliable growing conditions, could lose their bearings and even their incomes, when facing these ups and downs in temperature and rainfall,” Lawrence said. “While farmers may ultimately adapt to shifts in the season, it’s difficult if not impossible for farmers to adapt to increased floods or parched soils.”

Deforestation could affect what types of crops can be grown and where, as well as what types of techniques might be needed to adapt to projected changes.

“What happens on the surface of the Earth (in terms of changes in vegetation) is a big factor in climate change,” Lawrence said. “We ignore it at our own peril.”

Biodiversity And REDD: How They Fit Together

22 October 2014 | Over half the world’s known species are found only in tropical forests, and companies that invest in forest carbon projects often do so as much to conserve endangered habitat as to sequester carbon. Indeed, most privately-funded forest-carbon projects explicitly identify and tout their biodiversity impacts to attract top dollar, which is why voluntary carbon markets have succeeded in using carbon finance to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and to conserve biodiversity.

But can governments replicate that success at a national or at least state-wide level?

That question was central to last week’s 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where delegates explored the synergies between sustainable forestry and biodiversity conservation.

Such exploration is critical, but it’s often accompanied by apprehension and with good reason: biodiversity is complex by nature, and REDD is already complex by design. Well-intended efforts to create comprehensive global agreements often yield theoretical frameworks that solve the world’s problems on paper but prove impossible to implement on the ground as anyone who’s followed the CBD and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) can attest.

Or, as the authors of “A Sourcebook: Biodiversity Monitoring for REDD+ put it: “A key challenge [to monitoring biodiversity for REDD] is to avoid creating monitoring and reporting systems that will be too difficult and expensive for countries to implement.

Published jointly by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fí¼r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the sourcebook scoops together research and analysis from scores of sources and then scrapes away the jargon to provide as clear and concise a summary of the current policies and programs as you’ll find anywhere.

The book offers a four-stage framework that begins by explaining the objectives of monitoring biodiversity for REDD+, then identifies specific indicators that can be used and progresses into implementation and communication to relevant audiences.

This sequence provides an incredibly accessible explainer that will help anyone who knows the basics of REDD understand the complex array of efforts underway on the biodiversity front both in policy and in practice.

In the early chapters, the sourcebook clearly shows how the UNFCCC’s Cancíºn Safeguards for REDD deliver biodiversity benefits and how the CBD’s Aichi Targets support healthy forests. It also provides side-by-side comparisons of the four biodiversity safeguard initiatives already in place for REDD two emerging under the UN and World Bank, one created by two NGOs but for government programs, and one program that serves the voluntary sector.

By the time you’re finished, you’ll know how animals are trapped and monitored, which organizations offer what support, and how all of these monitoring efforts dovetail with monitoring efforts that will already be undertaken to account for carbon under REDD, as well as what additional costs to expect in terms of human, technical, and financial resources.

Throughout the book, the authors revisit the Emalu REDD+ pilot project in Fiji to provide concrete illustrations of the concepts they’re exploring, and in the final chapter they examine five monitoring initiatives to illustrate how the four-step process influenced their design. Each of the five is presented in three ways: a fact sheet introduces the project, a summary page examines how each project incorporates the four steps, and a report card then grades each step based on how purposeful, effective or realistic it was three criteria that were laid out at the beginning of the book.

The narratives in this closing chapter are, unfortunately, a bit of a disappointment especially given the clarity and depth that the rest of the book offers. It’s hard to tell whether the authors were simply trying too hard to be succinct (a welcome aspiration in a sector that’s often drowning in words) or whether they ran out of time before they could conduct the kind country-specific interviews that would have fleshed out the narratives (a challenge we can all relate to). Whatever the reason, they clearly leave a lot of meat on those five bones meat that they exquisitely prepared over 70 carefully-crafted pages, and which they should have given us a chance to enjoy before clearing the table.

But even that sense of disappoint speaks more to the quality of the pages that came before it than to the brevity of that last chapter. This is, after all, a sourcebook and not a comprehensive compendium of biodiversity finance, and the authors do provide plenty of links to the projects they’re summarizing.

With the landscapes approach to REDD gaining prominence in the lead-up to year-end climate talks in Peru, we need more efforts to bring these complex issues out of the wonky world of the experts and into the simple world that most of us inhabit. This sourcebook succeeds in doing just that, and it should be at the top of any REDD specialist’s reading list.

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Steve Zwick is Managing Editor of Ecosystem Marketplace. He can be reached at szwick@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

Ghost Of Milton Friedman Materializes In Chicago, Endorses A Price On Carbon

13 October 2014 |The familiar, shimmering apparition hovered above the room for a minute or two, then left, then reappeared for a bit longer before fading away.

“There’s always a case for the government, to some extent, when what two people do affects a third party,” it said. “There is a case, for example, for emission controls.”

Nearly a decade after his death in 2006, Milton Friedman the man the Economist described as “the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century … possibly of all of it was back at the University of Chicago, where he’d built the reputation that won him the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976 and established him as the patron saint of laissez-faire economics.

But unlike the free-market fundamentalists and Tea Party pontificators who often invoke his name, Friedman didn’t see the market as some all-knowing force that operates without governance, and he wasn’t opposed to environmental legislation. What he opposed was command-and-control regulation that dictated narrow solutions to complex and evolving challenges, and what he favored was something a bit more nuanced than the simplistic slogans spouted on Fox News.

So last week, former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis and two University of Chicago professors revived Friedman to answer the question,“What would Milton Friedman do about climate change?”

Watch the Full Discussion or Scroll Down for Summary

Using excerpts from videos of the fiery Friedman wrestling with 20th-Century challenges, they sparked an insightful, informative, and even entertaining dialectic on the economics of pollution and the art of communicating with ideologues creating in the process an introduction to the economics of “externalities”, which is what Friedman’s referring to when he says “what two people do affects a third party. Pollution is a classic externality.)

In his first appearance, Virtual Friedman offers his solution to one of the vexing problems of his day.

“The best way to [reduce auto emissions] is to impose a tax on the amount of pollutants emitted by a car,” he says. “[This] make[s] it in the self-interest of car manufacturers and consumers to keep down the amount of pollution.

Steve Cicala, who is an assistant professor at the U of C’s Harris School of Public Policy, then brings us into the logic of Friedman’s conclusion with a hypothetical. Let’s pretend, he says, that he owns a steel mill that sells its product for $100 a ton. And let’s further pretend that co-panelist Michael Greenstone, who is the U of CÃs Milton Friedman Professor of Economics, lives downwind from his mill.

“I’ve got to burn coal, and [Greenstone] has asthma,” Cicala says. “So, for every ton of steel, it costs him $20 in health.”

Pollution is Theft

Cicala is unequivocal on the morality of this situation: “I compensate every one of my other input suppliers,” he says. “I have to buy the coal. I have to buy the steel. All of that exchange is based on mutually-beneficial, willing exchange, but there’s no market for the pollution that I’m inflicting on Michael.

If he doesn’t compensate Greenstone for damages and do so in a way that Greenstone agrees to then Cicala says he’s not a capitalist. He’s a criminal.

“Companies that don’t pay are guilty of theft,” he says. “If someone has a better way of describing [the act of] taking something from someone without their consent and without compensating them, I’d be happy to use that term.”

Inglis, a rational Republican who was ousted by Tea Party insurgents in 2010, then asks the professors what they think to the anti-tax rhetoric that’s become dogma in his own party specifically, he brings up Texas Governor Rick Perrys dismissal of a carbon tax because it would raise energy rates.

Greenstone says the governor was probably correct, but that doesn’t make him morally right because greenhouse gasses are “sprinkling around damages in Bangladesh, in Los Angeles, in Houston, and even in Austin, where Governor Perry works.

And, unlike Cicala’s factory, this isn’t a hypothetical.

“Those costs are real, he says “And they’re not being reflected in the price I pay when I fill my gas tank or turn on the light.

So, yes, Perry is correct about the cost of energy at least in the short term, and to immediate consumers but he’s morally wrong to resist an effort to pay for “these innocent parties who are minding their own business and having the climate change around them.

Greenstone then reminds us that externalities aren’t part of radical, socialist ideology.

“Its a core idea of economics,” he says. “It’s an apolitical idea.”

Why not Just Ban the Stuff?

So, why focus on making polluters pay instead of passing a law that either bans certain pollutants or imposes standards? Friedman’s apparition returns with an answer:

“What we need is an adjustment mechanism that will enable us to adapt to what happens as it develops,” he says. “And of course, as everybody in this room knows, there is such a system: namely, the price mechanism which successfully steered us over several centuries from wood to coal to whale oil to petroleum to natural gas.”

That mechanism works better than command-and-control, he says, because it promotes solutions that we never could have predicted bureaucratically, and Greenstone wholeheartedly agrees.

“The price system isn’t working in the energy system right now, exactly because carbon is priced at zero, he says. “Its going to be very hard for companies to raise money to come up with new energy innovations when there’s no market for them.”

Then he reminds us again that this isn’t some crazy idea, for just as 98% of the 200 most often-cited climate scientists agree that climate change is real, dangerous, and man-made (despite the best efforts of climate-science deniers to tell us otherwise), so do most economists endorse a price on carbon.

“It’s really remarkable the media always reports this near-consensus among scientists about the effect of human activity on climate change,” says Greenstone. “What does not receive as much attention [is the] greater consensus, starting with Friedman and moving to the most left-wing economists that you can find, that the most correct public policy solution is to put a price on carbon.”

He may be overstating the consensus on a carbon price, although he later points out that all regulation has a price; it’s just than an explicit price on a specific pollutant is more targeted and efficient.

How to Set the Price?

Cicala agrees, and then offers the two most common methods for setting an explicit carbon price: one method is cap-and-trade, which puts a cap on the amount of emissions allowed and lets the price fluctuate. The other method starts with a price and lets that drive the amount.

“For most economists, I think it would be uncontroversial that we should have a cap-and-trade system in which we define the quantity of carbon that can go into the air,” he says. “Then, through trading, we’ll figure out..the least-cost way of [reducing emissions]. [Under such an approach], we’re not quite sure what the price is, but we’re certain about the quantity.

The second approach the one that starts with a price essentially amounts to a tax, and it has the distinct advantage of sending a clear and possibly long-term price signal so companies know it’s worth their while to find climate solutions.

“But the fear with the tax is that it will keep on going up,” says Inglis. “If you start taxing at this price, then how high does it go?”

Greenstone concedes the point and proposes a price that starts with the “social cost of carbon.” While this doesn’t really give the victims a say in the matter, it is a step towards justice. The problem is: how do you determine that price?

“There’s emerging science around that,” he says, citing research into the impact of plunges in crop yields and other results.

“The US government actually has an official number,” he says. “It’s $37 a ton. That would provide an excellent guidepost on how to set the tax and would be a way to constrain a mischievous congress from monkeying with it and making it go up or down to satisfy something political.”

Later in the discussion, he says that failing to embed the cost of environmental degradation in the cost of production amounts to a massive subsidy of nearly $240 billion annually for industry a number he arrives at by rounding US emissions off to 6 billion tons a year and multiplying by $40 per ton.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s subsidized at that rate in the rest of the economy.

(As a side note, the European Commission also advocates a set price on based on the cost of switching to low-emission technology. Their target price is ¬30 per ton.)

How to Implement it?

While it all sounds great in theory, how do you implement such a set price?

“If we’re the first to implement a tax, then carbon-intense pollution is just going to move overseas, says Cicala, floating the idea of “border adjustments” that “tax goods arriving at the US based on the carbon content.

Inglis then says that, to him, a tax without a border adjustment is a no-go.

“If I were still in Congress and had a carbon tax that wasn’t border adjustable, I couldn’t vote for it because of the problem just identified, he says.“We would become double losers. We lose employment and we lose the race to reduce emissions. Then, domestically, there are those who will fight anything that increases taxes in one area without a reduction elsewhere.”

He then opens an ideological can of worms by pointing out that the organization he now heads, the conservative Energy & Enterprise Initiative (which co-hosted last weeks event), believes any carbon tax should be “revenue-neutral”, which “means a dollar-for-dollar tax cut somewhere else. If we add a carbon tax, then we have to reduce another tax to keep government from getting too big, he says asking the others, with refreshing introspection, “Is that indicated by the economics or is that just my conservative philosophy coming to bear there?

Here they flounder a bit talking about the chance to reduce “distortionary” taxes while ramping up a tax that corrects a market distortion, but not directly taking on the distortionary subsidies given to the oil sector.

Offsetting and Other Missing Components

They manage to cover an incredible amount of territory in a very short period of time, but two glaring elements are missing from the discussion.

One is implicit: you can tell from their other statements that these gentlemen abhor subsidies for the oil sector. The other, however, is one they only skirt: namely, what happens to the money if this is a tax especially if revenue neutrality is an “imperative”, as Inglis says?

If revenue neutrality means you get to cut income taxes, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of charging a tax based on the social cost? After all, if the proceeds from that carbon tax just end up going to fund an income-tax cut, then where does that leave the victims of climate change? Greenstone does touch on this later in the discussion by alluding to energy transfers to the developing world, but the group never picks up the topic of offsetting, which is when the money raised under cap-and-trade goes directly to a reduction program elsewhere. I’m sure I’ll find some great stuff from both Cicola and Greenstone online, but it would have been great to explore this issue here.

There’s also a weird digression where they talk about the importance of American leadership this on an issue where the US has been doing globally what the Republicans have been doing domestically: namely, gunking things up. You could also argue, as Greenstone implies, that the global “solutions” developed so far are flawed to the bone, but they don’t really address existing global measures or lessons to be learned from their failures.

Going Global

Despite this or maybe because of it the discussion around border adjustments actually gets quite fascinating, especially when Cicola brings up the idea of inviting a challenge at the World Trade Organization. Under his scenario, a US carbon tax on imported goods would be structured in such a way that it can be offset by an equal tax in the country of origin.

“That gives more of an incentive for other countries to buy in,” he says. “Because if I start collecting the revenue on China’s or India carbon emissions, they’ll want a piece of that.”

And if those countries don’t implement a carbon tax on their own exported products?

“We have an opportunity to collect a bunch of revenue from other countries non-participation.”

How to Sell It?

Towards the end, Inglis opens a thread that’s obviously near and dear to his heart: how to convince idealogues on the right that climate science is real and we need to deal with it. He provides two answers: one is to slowly build a tribe of rational conservatives who are now too afraid to raise their voices lest some pinhead from the Heartland Institute pillories them; the other is to begin with the end in mind namely, begin with the message that we can fix this mess without creating the kind of bloated bureaucracy that none of us really wants.

Cicola and Greenstone warm to the first, but are leery of overselling the second point. While Greenstone does concede that the Obama administration’s current climate strategy is a mess, he points out that it’s a mess borne of necessity. Maybe, he says, now is a time for Republicans to offer a real plan based on a carbon price a plan that will be better than the mess necessitated in part by their own obstinacy.

Both however, go out of their way to remind us that free-market fundamentalism isn’t a strategy. It’s a fantasy. While recognizing the cost of government inefficiency, Cicola reminds us that government is a necessary evil, especially given the threat at hand. “If were deciding between catastrophe for civilization and government inefficiency, Im willing to take a bit of government inefficiency for that trade-off,” he says.

“It a kind of a fiction to think that markets exist on their own,” adds Greenstone. “They exist because government creates ground rules for them to operate in.”

Will Last Month’s Climate Summit Stir Real Action on Climate Change?

10 October 2014 | United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon raised eyebrows last year when he announced that the UN would host a Climate Summit in New York City in September 2014. Some observers questioned what could be accomplished at the Summit that had not been achieved during years of international climate negotiations. A lot, as it turns out.

The People’s Climate March brought more than 400,000 people to the streets ahead of the Summit to demand leaders of countries and corporations alike take ambitious action to address the climate change threat. The gathering was the largest civil demonstration in history on climate change and world leaders still had those voices echoing in their ears when Ki-moon called the Summit to order two days later.

Countries and corporations participating in the Summit responded to Ki-moon’s call for bold pledges with a wide range of commitments on agriculture, cities, energy, financing, industry, resilience and transportation. Perhaps the most ambitious in terms of emissions reductions was the New York Declaration on Forests through which government, business, civil society and indigenous leaders pledged $1 billion to end deforestation by 2030. Norway and the United Kingdom made particularly rich promises for climate finance (see Climate Finance section). If successful, the pledge would prevent the emission of between 4.5 billion and 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e) annually.

“I think the Summit was a success,” said Paul Bodner, Director for Environment and Climate Change for the White House’s National Security Council. “We talk about tipping points on climate change. I think it’s possible we’ll look back on this Summit as a different type of tipping point where countries really got serious about action.”

Carbon pricing was also at the top of leaders’ minds in New York. The World Bank counted 74 countries, 23 subnational jurisdictions and more than 1,000 businesses and investors as signatories on its petition supporting carbon pricing. Noticeably absent was the United States, which Bodner attributed to the lack of political consensus at the federal level.

On the opposite side of the world, New Zealand’s National Party maintained control of the parliament after a general election seen aspivotal for the country’s emissions trading system (ETS). In June, the Green Party pledged to abandon the “failed” ETS in favor of a tax of $25 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent on emissions for all sectors, except agriculture, if it prevailed in the election.

The opposing Labor Party promised to strengthen demand for domestic offsets through rule changes during a review of the ETS in 2015, but he National Party has no plans to make changes to the system. However, New Zealand Unit prices are still expected to rise since compliance entities will lose access to inexpensive international Emission Reduction Units next year.

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

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The Editors

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V-Carbon News

VOLUNTARY CARBON

Walking the Walk
In what Ki-moon called “walking the walk,” the UN maintained its commitment to keeping its system carbon neutral by minimizing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the Summit. The UN purchased over 18,000 tonnes of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to offset the emissions of participants’ air travel and make the event carbon neutral. Read more here
Mickey Mouse to the rescue
The Walt Disney Company 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. Its latest project supported the replanting of 234,000 spruces along the Missionary Ridge in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest through the National Forest Foundation. Intervention was necessary since the area showed no signs of regrowth after a 2002 fire. The 250-acre project area is expected to sequester about 54,000 tCO2e over the next 100 years, according to project documents filed with the American Carbon Registry. Read more here
Riding the rails
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is making a profit by selling CERs under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. However, income from international offset sales has waned as prices dropped from 20 euros per tonne to under a euro per tonne, said K K Saberwal, DMRC Director of Finance. “The West’s own attempts to reduce carbon footprints has impacted the cost of CERs.” The DMRC generates offsets through a regenerative braking system and its Modal Shift project, which accounts for the difference between train travel and more polluting transportation options. The Metro system handles 250,000 riders daily and generates more than 630,000 tCO2e offsets annually, according to DMRC’s blog. Read more here
More on Modal Shift methodology
Trees for you and me
A new initiative from Code REDD, Stand for Trees, is attempting to channel the public’s enthusiasm from the UN Climate Summit into real GHG reductions utilizing avoided deforestation offsets. The campaign will facilitate sales of forest offsets to the general public in half tonne increments through a new mobile web platform. “People are what motivate the private sector and the public sector decision making, so we feel it’s essential to engage the general population in forest conservation and helping them to understand the role of forests in climate regulation, said Kate Dillon, Director of Membership Development at Code REDD. Individuals represented less than 1% of demand for forest-based offsets in 2012, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013. Read more here

COMPLIANCE CARBON

Mock trials for carbon
South Korea is set to launch its ETS on January 1, so the Korean Exchange (KRX) began testing the system last month. During the first phase, KRX will coordinate infrastructure between itself, the country’s GHG management system and settlement banks as well as educate corporations on the trading process. The second phase will begin October 27 with mock trading for compliance entities. South Korea has voluntarily committed to reduce its GHG emissions 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020. Officials expect allowances in South Korea’s program to trade around $20/tCO2e, but some analysts say the price could reach nearly $100/tCO2e. Read more here
Chile reception for CO2
Chile has officially adopted a carbon tax, making it the first South American country to price CO2 emissions. The $5 per tCO2e tax will focus on electricity generators larger than 50 megawatts (MW). Chile has a voluntary target of cutting GHG emissions 20% from 2007 levels by 2020. The carbon tax is scheduled to begin in 2018 and is expected to raise $160 million in revenue as part of a broader tax reform bill. Chile’s program does not include provisions for the use of offsets, unlike similar taxes in Mexico and South Africa. Read more here
Filling their dance card
California and Quebec are courting others to join their cap-and-trade program. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said his staff has been in discussions with regulators in Ontario and New England states while California officials continue talks with fellowPacific Coast Collaborative members Washington and Oregon. Couillard singled out Vermont as particularly interested in partnership, but the state is currently a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) with eight other Northeastern states. “Vermont is not considering leaving RGGI – rather we are looking to strengthen RGGI even further by exploring the possibilities to integrate our market with others, said Justin Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources. Read more here
Double, but still trouble
The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) expects offset issuance will more than double from 40 million tCO2e in 2014 to over 80 million tCO2e in 2017 over half of which will come from project types eligible for California’s compliance program. However, CAR issuances would still fall short of fulfilling demand for offsets for California’s program if covered entities maximized the 8% limit they can use toward their compliance obligations because not all protocols are allowed into the program. Currently, only offsets generated under five protocols forest, urban forestry, livestock, U.S. Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and mine methane are eligible, with rice cultivation possibly added to the mix later this year. Read more here
Always be prepared
Chinese companies are preparing for a domestic carbon market scheduled to begin in 2016. Foxconn, an electronics manufacturer headquartered in Taiwan, has established its own carbon trading business, Shenzhen Fox-Energy Technology. The company has already benefited from investments in CO2 reduction technologies that allowed it to sell part of its allowance allocation in the Shenzhen pilot carbon market in addition to saving on electricity expenses. Once China establishes a national price on carbon, other markets will follow, according to leaders at the recent Summit. China could regulate 3-4 billion tCO2e by 2020 under its planned ETS, which would make it the largest carbon market in the world, according to officials. Read more on Foxconn’s activities
Read more about China’s influence
Gas in the power grid
Genalta Power has become the first company in Alberta to earn carbon offsets for converting waste gas that would otherwise be flared into electricity. The 4-MW Cadotte Peace River project generated more than 8,000 tCO2e in 2013 and will result in 240,000 tCO2e of reductions over its lifetime to be sold to the gas provider Baytex Energy. The project was developed under Alberta Environment’s waste heat recovery protocol in partnership with Blue Source Canada, with verification by Alberta-based Stantec. Read more here

CARBON FINANCE

No empty promise
The New York Declaration on Forest commits governments, multinational corporations, civil society and indigenous peoples to cut forest loss in half by 2020 and completely end it by 2030. The commitment comes backed with a promised down payment of $1 billion in economic incentives for countries to reduce forest loss. Norway has pledged up to $300 million to Peru and $150 million to Liberia to support their forest preservation efforts, bringing Norway’s total support for climate and forests initiatives to about $3 billion through 2020. The United Kingdom pledged $235 million split between two programs designed to jump start sustainable land-use programs across the developing world. Read more here
The perils of peace
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the second largest forested area in the world, and the usual threats to forests logging and agricultural expansion have historically been muted by the civil war that has plagued the country since the mid-1990s. However, the DRC’s increasing political stability could result in the forests falling under threat from development, so a new effort to protect the home of endangered species such as the bonobo  the great ape that is the closest living relative to humans is now underway. The government is launching a pay-for-performance avoided deforestation program seeking $50 million a year from the private sector, but the program will first need a $20 million boost from philanthropic donors. Read more here

STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGIES

Just a little tweak
The CAR will adapt its ODS protocol for use with ODSs sourced in Mexico and destroyed in Mexican facilities. The organization has invited stakeholders to form a working group this month to develop the modified protocol, which is expected to be complete by April 2015. ODSs have a high global warming potential and offsets are generated from their destruction in cases where they would have otherwise been vented to the atmosphere. Read more here

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

On different latitudes
A New York Times op-ed by Yale atmospheric chemistry professor Nadine Unger caused a stir last month when it argued that “large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse” and warned against UN funding for forestry. Unger’s research found that increasing forest cover at high latitudes darkens the color of the Earth’s surface and absorbs more sunlight. But scientists responding to the op-ed pointed out that REDD funding is directed specifically to tropical (low-latitude) forests, where the clouds that trees create lighten Earth’s surface color. Unger also stated that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released naturally by trees mix with fossil fuel emissions to produce GHGs. Critics responded that Unger’s own research shows that VOCs have anywhere from a cooling to a warming effect, while deforestation is clearly connected to an increase in GHGs. New York Times op-ed
Scientists response
Actions have consequences
Scientists have made an uncharacteristically strong connection between Australia’s 2013 heat wave and human-related GHG emissions. Five independent researchers using different methods concluded that last year’s temperatures could not have occurred without human intervention.“When we look at the heat across the whole of Australia and the whole 12 months of 2013, we can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change, said David Karoly, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne. The ground-breaking finding came too late to preserve Australia’s carbon pricing program designed to reduce the country’s GHG emissions which federal legislators voted to repeal in July. Read more on the heat wave
Read more about the carbon tax repeal

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