This year’s Climate Week is shaping up to be a historic one as 31 countries officially joined the Paris Agreement today, which is expected to rocket into force before the end of the year. This brings the total count to 60 countries, exceeding the threshold of 55, and 48% of global emissions, which falls just below the required amount. UN officials and national leaders are confident the world will cross that threshold within the coming months.
21 September 2016 | It’s that time of year again! Climate Week kicks off in New York City this week alongside a United Nations General Assembly – the first held post-Paris.
Climate Week typically plays host to a number of announcements (with Monday already seeing the launch of the Climate Bonds Initiative’s State of the Market 2016), but perhaps the most-anticipated announcement will come later this week. The odds look good for the climate pact to enter into legal force less than a year after nations finalized it. During a UN event in New York today, some 30 countries officially joined bringing the count to 60 countries representing nearly 48% of global emissions. In order for the world to bring the agreement into force, 55 countries that represent at least 55% of global emissions must join.
“One threshold met, the other almost met,” Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, tweeted earlier today.
Countries are moving at rocket speed to implement it, which is basically unheard of when dealing with a major United Nations agreement. As one UN official said: “It usually takes years, decades and sometimes never to cross these thresholds for entry into force.”
The agreement took a giant step closer to entering into force earlier this month when the United States and China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, officially joined.
Even with the additional countries signing the agreement this week, total emissions covered fall just short of the 55% needed. But ratification by the European Union could tip the scales, with the EU planning to hold a meeting on September 30 to fast-track agreement among participating environmental ministers and could result in ratification as early as October 7.
As the Paris Agreement moves closer to implementation, a new Forest Trends report, The Implications of the Paris Climate Agreement for Private Sector Roles in REDD+, urges businesses to increase their contribution. The authors point out that the private sector is the biggest missing piece to the puzzle of forest finance and realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement.
That’s not to say the private sector is completely absent: buyers have voluntarily paid more than$381 million to purchase offsets that reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in thirteen key tropical countries tracked in the report. That means the private sector provided about 10% of the 4 billion in REDD+ finance commitments tracked by Ecosystem Marketplace and our sister initiative REDDX.
Report authors warn public financing will remain limited – and greater private sector inclusion is needed to make the emissions reductions needed to cap a temperature rise at 1.5 Celsius. In particular, they see potential for future interest from the green bonds market (the bulk of which currently finances climate-friendly energy and transportation measures) and through public-private partnerships designed to attract private capital (such as the United States’ Agency for International Development’s $134 M risk-sharing loan guarantee to the Althelia Climate Fund).
More news about carbon finance is summarized below, so keep reading!
HERE’S THE DEAL
Carbon exchange with tree roots
The Colombian Voluntary Carbon Market Platform just launched in August, after the idea of a voluntary carbon exchange first sprouted in 2010. The program starts with two local projects on the exchange, featuring cookstoves and forestry project types though the platform also accepts clean energy, residual and transportation projects. On the launch day, three local businesses lined up to show their support: with Corpbanca and Gimnasio Fontana buying 2,561 Gold Standard certified offsets from a clean cookstove project, and ISA buying 3,000 offsets from a VCS certified reforestation project. Each paid around $5-$6/tonne.
A point for the planet
FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, just scored for the environment, as it pledged to offset emissions for the upcoming 2018 World Cup. It became the first international sports organization to join Climate Neutral Now, which is a United Nations initiative supporting entities in becoming carbon neutral. Climate Neutral Now, which launched during Climate Week last year, is one of the initiatives promoted by Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) staff to increase demand for its Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs). Signatories of the pledge (like FIFA) vow to measure, reduce and offset their carbon footprint – with the pledge recommending participants buy at least 20% of their emissions reductions from CERs. Currently more than 7,500 projects in 105 countries are on the CDM, but only 36 are available on the Climate Neutral Now platform.
Carbon neutral copy
This month, Top Drawer Creative became the first Canadian advertising agency to receive 100% carbon neutral certification through Climate Smart. Top Drawer purchased carbon offsets through the Vancouver-based firm Offsetters to compensate for those emissions – 91.22 tCO2e worth – that were from employees’ commutes to the office. Top Drawer purchased $1,200 worth of offsets from a local project close to home: the Quadra Island Forestland Conservation Project, a wilderness and biodiversity program on Vancouver Island. The project has protected over 400 hectares of forest from logging or urban development.
Crosswinds at sea
Due to their international status, the shipping and aviation sectors were not covered in last year’s Paris Agreement. However, both sectors are anticipating governments will regulate their emissions in the near future. But while aviation is making progress on establishing a system to reduce emissions, the shipping industry is strugglin to find its footing. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) supports a carbon tax, but it says this will take five or six years to develop. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in the European Parliament is pushing for EU’s carbon market to include ships in the next decade which the ICS claims will distort the market.
Flying toward cleaner, greener skies
The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is aiming to strike the first global deal to put a lid on pollution from airplanes when its 191 member states meet in Montreal on Sept. 27-Oct. 7. The goal is to agree on a system where greenhouse gases related to the growth of the industry are reduced over time – possibly with the option to offset by investing in emission-reduction projects. ICAO’s potential deal is receiving significant attention as China, the United States and several European nations are backing it. Even the Marshall Islands, a country contributing little to the global emissions count, pledged its support. The EU says it won’t finalize any rules relating to aviation in its carbon markets until after the ICAO meeting.
Don’t forget to consider the climate
In early August, the US Executive Office issued final guidance instructing all federal agencies to fully consider global warming and its impacts when making decisions and implementing activities. The guidance works in coordination with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is leading some market practitioners to see potential to use offsets to mitigate NEPA activities. The guidance outlines accounting systems and includes instruction on how to quantify greenhouse gas emissions, which could imply that the US government will change its “no offsets” policy. Market players will have to wait and see but one point is for sure: the guidance integrates climate change into NEPA in a profound way that will ultimately affect the value of land that stores carbon.
Beat the clock
This year’s G20 summit, which the Chinese city of Hangzhou hosted, became the first G20 meeting to go carbon neutral using a local tree-planting project to offset emissions. China, one of the world’s biggest polluters, made an even bigger splash at the meeting when it teamed up with the world’s other biggest polluter, the United States, to officially join the Paris Agreement. Their participation brings the agreeement significantly closer to entering into force. Analysts say the international community is keen to implement the agreement as soon as possible and not only because of the worsening effects of climate change. Turbulence in US politics has put a question mark on the country’s participation in 2016.
Online shopping for movies, books and carbon offsets
According to a recent study, online consumers will opt for the greener product when given a choice. They’ll even purchase carbon offsets. Conducting several experiments using Amazon Prime, Uber, Netflix and Airbnb interfaces, researchers found that 88% of participants added offsets to their bill when the option was selected by default. Even when it wasn’t on default, 40% of participants chose to offset. The report authors’ say ultimately, their research reveals that a market does indeed exist for climate-friendly options. Regular consumers often lack the know-how to calculate the carbon footprint of products and their actions, which is why, researchers say, the options must be made readily available to the online consumer.
Growing Corn and storing carbon
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) was among this year’s winners of a Conservation Innovation Grant, a program administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). As part of its Soil Health Partnership, the NCGA will spend the 1 million grant developing a greenhouse gas insetting framework that companies and other entities can use to drive reductions in emissions through conservation. Carbon insetting is growing more common in some industries and can incentivize farmers to adopt climate smart agriculture that sequesters carbon. The New York-based firm Encourage Capital also won a CIG worth over a million dollars. It will use the money to jumpstart a carbon market to stimulate investment in conservation on working lands.
You paid how much?
The latest State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2016report tracked offsets selling for as little as $0.1/ton and as much as $44.8/ton. Why the discrepancy? In an opinion piece, Claire Willers of the Gold Standard says the reasons carbon credits vary so wildly has to do with a variety of factors that include degree of rigor, project location and economies of scale among others. The value of beyond carbon benefits is key, she says. For instance, a large-scale wind project in Turkey delivers far more country level benefits than an improved cookstove project in Rwanda, which delivers benefits at a community level.
Manager, Climate Change Policy – Conservation International (CI)
Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Manager for Climate Change Policy will lead, with oversight of the Climate Policy Director, CI’s global climate adaptation policy initiatives and contribute to the development and implementation of national adaptation policies. S/he will support CI’s climate policy priorities related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through tracking relevant negotiations and preparing policy analyses of national and international adaptation policies and practices. S/he will contribute to the implementation of relevant CI regional strategies, including the piloting of CI EbA (ecosystem based adaptation) tools, and assist in the development of relevant case studies, policy documents, and other EbA policy resources.
Senior Land Use Economist, New Climate Economy project – World Resources Institute
Based in Washington D.C., the World Resources Institute seeks a Senior Land Use Economist to lead on research for the proposed New Climate Economy (NCE) Land Use Special Initiative. The Senior Economist will be a key subject matter expert on land-use issues, ideally including agriculture, restoring degraded lands, land tenure, forest financing and REDD+. Successful candidates will have at least seven years of experience and at least a masters in economics, environmental economics or land use economics.
Senior Program Officer, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, Winrock International
Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Senior Program Officer will serve as a key member of the Forestry and Natural Resource Management Unit management team and will support program implementation and management, as well as new business development focusing on international forestry, biodiversity conservation, and climate change projects. The officer will manage a variety of projects around payments for ecosystem services, REDD+, land use management and more. Successful candidates will have at least ten years’ experience in international development and at least five years’ experience in forestry, environment, natural resource management and economic development.
Geospatial Analyst – The Nature Conservancy
Based in Arlington, Virginia, TNC seeks a Geospatial Analyst to conduct geospatial and other analyses for TNC’s carbon science team. The primary focus of analysis will be related to quantifying and mapping climate mitigation opportunities for TNC’s Natural Climate Solutions work and will be a member of TNC’s Global Lands Carbon Science Team. Successful candidates will have a graduate degree in a science related field and one year of experience with a background in geospatial software. Ideally, candidates would have experience working in tropical countries and knowledge in building interactive web maps and data visualization.
Remote Sensing and GIS Technician – BioCarbon Partners
Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the Remote Sensing and GIS Technician’s primary responsibility is the remote sensing and GIS components of REDD project implementation and design as well as broader BioCarbon Partners data management strategy. In addition to the geospatial components of the job the GIS and Remote Sensing Technician will also manage aspects of the digital data collection systems employed by BioCarbon Partners. Successful candidates will have a BSC (or BTEch) degree in Geographic Information Systems, computer science, geography or a GIS certificate from an accredited institution and at least two years of related experience. This position also requires competence in advanced scientific report writing and knowledge of greenhouse gas mitigation standards such as Verified Carbon Standard REDD+ methodologies.
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