State of 2012: End of Times or a Brand New Day?

With the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report each year, we strive to offer voluntary market coverage that is global, insightful and freely available – to reach readers from Westpac to watchdogs.  Read on for details about the report and the latest news from around the world of v-carbon.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Voluntary Carbon newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of voluntary carbon automatically in your inbox by clicking here.

11 October 2011 | Show of hands: who among you regularly pays for market analysis?

Many of our readers probably have some access to industry news and trade data if their company is directly engaged in markets for emissions reductions.
But what about those readers that collectively shape public opinion and demand for offsets – i.e. prospective buyers, journalists, new start-ups, community members, NGO’s, educators, governments and the general public – who are interested in this marketplace but can face limited access to industry information?

When Ecosystem Marketplace teams up each year with Bloomberg New Energy Finance to produce the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report, we strive to offer voluntary market coverage that is global, insightful and freely available – to reach readers from Westpac to watchdogs.  
For five years now, we have offered the world’s only free year-on-year tracking of the evolving relationships between global voluntary offset transactions and the wider world of regulation, emerging markets and other external pressures that drive market maturation.

Some of these developments were set in motion long before we launched our first report in 2007, and will continue to unfold regardless of who is keeping tabs. With or without the State of reports, well-established market players will have access to necessary business intelligence.

But Ecosystem Marketplace was founded and is by now best-positioned to provide comprehensive, transparent industry knowledge through this benchmark report – benefiting everyone who is invested in voluntary emissions reductions, new and established alike.

That’s why, even as the funding climate has warmed to new markets and cooled for some traditional funding sources, we hope to again publish this report – free and expanded – and continue to operate our voluntary carbon program (including V-Carbon News briefs) in 2012.
In order to do so, we must raise US$90,000 in donations or sponsorship commitments by November 30, 2011.
There are a few ways readers can help us reach this goal:

  • Make a donation (of any amount!). Those that contribute over US$499 will be recognized in the 2012 report.
  • Become a Sponsor. This is how reader support can add up fast. Yes, we will display your logo at every opportunity. No, we don’t share confidential survey responses with sponsors.
  • Follow our progress. We will update our fundraising successes here as we count down to December.

Contributions to Ecosystem Marketplace are processed through our parent company, Forest Trends. As a 501c3 organization, that means your donation is tax deductible. Once you submit your donor information, a member of the Ecosystem Marketplace Carbon Program will contact you to confirm. If we are unable to achieve our fundraising goal, all contributions will be promptly refunded.

—The Editors

For comments or questions, please email: [email protected].

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Trees win big as forest carbon surges to record year

Investors and buyers have funneled record amounts of capital into forestry projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by conserving forests and capturing carbon in trees, according to a global survey of carbon market participants published last Thursday by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. The report, “State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011: From Canopy to Currency,” documents a record US$175 million flowing to support forest carbon projects in 2010, representing commitments to sequester enough carbon to offset nearly 30 MtCO2e. “Contracts for forest carbon offsets more than doubled over the past two years, likely due to international policy discussions, and increased awareness of the critical role forests play in sequestering carbon,” says Katherine Hamilton, Ecosystem Marketplace’s Director and a report author.

Read more about the report from Ecosystem Marketplace

Target Neutral sets site on ticketholders

In an attempt to make the London 2012 Olympics the most sustainable Games possible, BP Target Neutral is calling on ticketholders to sign up to offset their travel footprints to the event – but at no cost to event attendees. As the London 2012 official Carbon Offset Partner, BP Target Neutral is aiming to set a new world record – the largest number of people to offset the carbon footprint of their travel to a single event. “We believe this mass offset opportunity will raise awareness about the challenge we all face in living more sustainably and will engage people who might never before have thought about the carbon impact of their travel choices,” said Peter Mather, Head of Country, UK and Vice President, Europe Region at BP. All carbon emissions will be offset from a portfolio of six projects compliant with the ICROA Code of Best Practice – and representing each continental region participating in the Games.

Read the press release
Read more about the initiative from BP Target Neutral
Read more about the projects

New Forests Company under fire

Despite recent success in protecting Uganda’s old forests, its new forests are another story. A recent report by Oxfam describes serious allegations by people who claim to have been evicted from land in order to make way for a reforestation project by the UK-based New Forests Company (NFC), partially owned by HSBC and not to be confused with the AU-based New Forests Pty Ltd. More than 22,500 people have allegedly been forced out of their homes by the Ugandan government, which in 2005 granted NFC a 50-year license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in order to generate carbon offsets under the CDM. “It’s not acceptable for companies to blame governments for shortfalls in their operations,” said Oxfam director Barbara Stocking. “Investors, no matter how noble they purport to be, cannot sweep aside the needs and rights of poor communities who depend on the land they profit from.” NFC has responded with a statement saying it is taking Oxfam’s allegations “extremely seriously” and is conducting an “immediate and thorough” investigation.

Read more from Treehugger
Read more from the Guardian
Read more from the NY Times

Uganda on a Natural High

A rainforest rehabilitation project in Uganda has become the latest forest carbon project to achieve verification under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Started by Face the Future in 1994, the Natural High Forest rehabilitation project is located in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, home to one of the world’s largest Chimpanzee populations. Implemented by Face the Future, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and local community members, the project will see the restoration of 10,000 ha of indigenous forest vegetation on degraded lands within the boundaries of the national park. “This project helped pioneer the field of forest carbon offsets,” said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, Senior Vice President of SCS, who validated and verified the project. “Its validation to the VCS represents a milestone for the voluntary carbon market.” 370,000 Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs) were issued in September 2011 for the project, which Face the Future hopes to expand in the future.

Read more about the project from Face the Future
Read the SCS press release

My carbon footprint? Put it all on the card.

South Pole Carbon and Swiss Corní¨r Bank are taking charge of carbon footprinting – now offering Swiss credit card holders the opportunity to automatically offset their spendings. The Climate Credit Card allows holders to offset the CO2 emissions associated with the products and services they buy. The GHG emissions are calculated using a proprietary methodology for footprinting transactions of payment instruments developed by South Pole – accounting for the emissions caused during the life-cycle of a product or the provision of a service. Emission reduction certificates are obtained by the credit card company on behalf of the client to offset all emissions associated with their annual credit card purchases – supporting a variety of renewable energy, reforestation and other emission reduction projects.

Read more from South Pole
Read more about how the Climate Credit Card works

In defence of carbon

International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) CEO Henry Derwent had some tough questions to answer in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Lateline – but maintained his support for the future of carbon trading, despite its growing pains. While he acknowledged that some offset are not yet meeting the high standards that are going to be necessary in a functioning global carbon market, he defended the market based approach to emissions reductions – and the need for incentives. “There’s really no harm in people making money out of emissions reductions,” said Derwent. “Indeed if there wasn’t that prospect, there really wouldn’t be any interest in achieving it.” He also stressed the numerous “checks and balances” that exist in both the compliance markets and voluntary markets under third-party standards. “There’s always going to be people who want to rort the system,” he added, “but you need a system to try to stop that.”

Read the interview transcript

A grounded approach to aviation emissions

As the EU prepares to cover the aviation section under its ETS, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is moving forward with its own plan to reduce emissions – a global carbon standard for aircraft it hopes to operationalize by 2013. The industry has already experimented with voluntary market-based solutions – with Bombardier’s Carbon Offset program through ClimateCare and NetJets Europe carbon offset program with EcoSecurities. AIM reports that last year, more than 73 percent of NetJets flights were being offset via Kyoto-level offset projects in China, Brazil and Nicaragua. The aim of the new standard is to stabilize civil aircraft emissions at 2020 levels and thereafter achieve a 2 percent annual increase in fuel efficiency by 2050. Eli Cotti, director of technical services for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), calls the ETS a “market-based” solution designed to encourage aircraft operators to modernize their fleets, but maintains that only an ICAO standard will be truly effective. “The business aviation community wants a standard that is applicable on a global framework,” said Cotti.

Read the AIN article

BC co-op to cut truckloads of carbon

Last week the Carbon Offset Aggregation Co-operative of BC inked a five-year deal with the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) to sell carbon offsets generated through the reduction of diesel fuel consumption by heavy trucks and equipment. Co-operative chair MaryAnn Arcand told the Vancouver Sun that the 23 founding companies burn 50 million litres of diesel in their equipment each year – which can now be cut by 10-20 percent through a variety of technological and mechanical interventions as well as operator awareness training. According to PCT CEO Scott MacDonald, the co-op is the first of its kind. “It’s our first project in the transportation sector and in British Columbia, transportation accounts for almost 38 per cent of the emissions in the province,” he said. “This will become a model for all other projects to use in the province.”

Read more from the Vancouver Sun
Read the press release

A LEED-in to more efficient offsets use

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has proposed updating its LEED green certification system – but according to the CarbonNeutral Company’s Jem Porcaro, LEED 2012’s treatment of offsets “reveals a mixed bag of improvements as well as room for improvement.” In a recent blog post, Porcaro applauds the USGBC for increasing its focus on climate change by including Scope 1 emissions and market-based instruments, such as carbon offsets, in the Energy and Atmosphere (EA) Credit provisions. But the new rules would also segregate the application of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to Scope 2 emissions and carbon offsets to Scope 1 emissions while limiting US LEED projects to US-based carbon offsets – practices that don’t necessarily reflect the best use of offsets. His suggestion? If the goal is to promote grid-connected renewable energy, USGBC may be better off allowing the use of carbon offsets against Scope 2 emissions, while limiting the type of offsets used to those generated by grid-connected renewable energy – regardless of their location.

Read the CarbonNeutral Company blog

Keeping up with sustainability

Reality TV stars and fashionistas Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian have teamed up with socially responsible online shopping site – known for its eco-chic fashion, beauty and luxury products – to sell their Kardashians Health and Beauty product lines. According to a press release, for each one of the Kardashians products sold on the members-only shopping site 25 cents will be contributed to carbon offset program by Windmill, while an additional 25 cents will go to philanthropies supported by the Kardashian family. The first Kardashians product coming to is Glamour Tan – reportedly a carbon neutral product. “As eco-conscious businesswomen, we are always looking for ways to give back and to regularly encourage our fans to do the same,” said Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner.

Read the press release

Europcar expands its Greenfleet

Europcar Australia is taking its relationship with offset provider Greenfleet to the next level. A newly signed agreement promises that the vehicle rental company will offset the carbon emissions of every company provided staff vehicle until the end of 2016, adding to its existing offset program targeting customer rentals. Greenfleet generates carbon offsets through the planting of native forests in Australia. Europcar Australia launched its carbon offset program in December 2006, and – according to their website – had planted 116,411 trees via this program as of March 31, 2011. “As a company, it is important to us that we validate our dedication to the environment and with over 700 employees in Australia, offsetting vehicle emissions is just another positive way we can help,” said Managing Director of Europcar Australia and New Zealand, Ron Santiago.

Read the press release

Meter running on Nashville parking scheme

Although Metro Nashville launched its green parking program back in July, the initiative appears to be stuck in first gear – with only five people signed up so far to offset their emissions in exchange for free downtown parking, reports the Tennessean. Metro Public Works officials are now beefing up promotions with a Channel 3 spot and gathering more support from environmentally conscious organizations in order to energize the parking program. Metro has partnered with non-profit offsets provider EarthCredits, who claim that all GHG reductions shall occur in Davidson County public spaces or conservation easements. About US$360 has been collected so far – but it will take much more awareness and money for the program to have an impact, said Roy Dale, EarthCredits founder. “I think it’s unfortunate that more people don’t know about it,” he said. “I think more nonprofits and more education about it could really get the numbers up.”

Read the Tennessean article

Konnichiwa. Indonesian trees, kudasai.

The Indonesian province of Gorontalo and a number of Japanese companies could be teaming up to protect the region’s forests for the purposes of carbon trading, reports Eco-Business. Vice governor Tony Uloli said the provincial administration had met with representatives of Kanematsu Corporation, Mitsubishi Research Institute, TAIJU and Kokusai Koyusa to discuss the planned cooperation. “The team representing the Japanese investors is now visiting Gorontalo for a survey of the conditions of our forests,” he said. “The cooperation with the Japanese investors is expected to be of great benefit to Gorontalo because besides the investment, the province`s forests would be sustainably protected.”

Read the Eco-Business article

VCS going to ground

Two new methodology elements being assessed under the VCS methodology approval process take a good look at land use emissions reductions. Developed by the FAO, Methodology for Sustainable Grassland Management (SGM) – open for public comment from 7 September until 6 October – aims to estimate the GHG emission reductions and carbon sequestration in grasslands by applying SGM practices. The Earth Partners’ Methodology for Soil Carbon – open for public comment from 4 October until 2 November – is a modular methodology is designed to be applicable to agricultural land management (ALM) projects. Comments on both methodologies are invited and should be submitted through the online comment sections of each methodology page or to [email protected].

Learn more about the methodologies under development
Learn more about the methodology approval process

ACR adds branches to the family tree(s)

The American Carbon Registry (ACR) has announced the approval of an Improved Forest Management (IFM) Methodology for Quantifying Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Removals and Emission Reductions through Increased Forest Carbon Sequestration on Non-Federal U.S. Forestlands. Developed by Columbia Carbon LLC – a subsidiary of CE2 Carbon Capital in partnership with L&C Carbon – the methodology targets non-federally owned US forestlands. Eligible lands include 495 million acres – 66 percent of all US forestlands, over half of which is currently managed by family forest owners. According to ACR chief technical officer Nicholas Martin, the new methodology fills an important gap. “We expect the resulting offset projects to be very popular in the voluntary market, where buyers favor high quality carbon offsets with a compelling story, such as those that manage, protect and replant forests,” he said.

Read the press release
Read more about the methodology

Up to speed on EOS

Back in August we told you about EOS Climate’s appointment of new CEO Matt Jones – and today EOS’ latest stakeholder update reveals more interesting company updates, including the growth of both their team and their tonnes. The EOS team has reportedly now doubled in size – including the addition of Brent Callinicos, Vice President and Treasurer of Google, to the board of EOS. The company recently issued another 200,000 Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs) from the destruction of ozone depleting substances (ODS) – very popular these days according to Point Carbon, which last week reported that ODS offsets are outpacing those from other project types slated for compliance under California’s cap-and-trade scheme. This issuance brings their total volume of emissions reductions delivered to date to more than 1.5 MtCO2e.

Read more EOS Climate news
Read more about ODS from Point Carbon

Reduce & Retire: The Latest on Carbon Neutral

They’re mean, they’re green…

When you think Florida, you think Gators – but Neutral Gators? They are now, thanks to an Earth Givers initiative designed to support the University of Florida (UF) in reaching carbon neutrality by 2025. Kicked off in 2008, the program implements weatherization and forest restoration projects to generate offsets that are then applied toward the carbon footprint of the UF Athletics season – resulting in country’s first carbon-neutral athletic program and the first carbon-neutral football season in NCAA history. The Alligator reports that over the last year, the initiative has been responsible for the planting of more than 4,000 trees in local forests – and aims to have 10,000 planted by January. “The whole concept is that a carbon offset is most valuable where it is created,” said Jacob Cravey, 30, director of Neutral Gator and executive director of Earth Givers.

Read the Alligator article

What happens in Rio stays in Rio…

… at least in terms of emission reductions (what did you think we were talking about?). Like many other music festivals, Rock in Rio is opting to rock out carbon-free this year – with benefits flowing right into the state of Rio de Janeiro. The event is teaming up with Sustainable Carbon to offset 100 percent of its emissions by supporting two SOCIALCARBON-verified projects: Sul América Ceramic Factory in Itaboraí­ and the GGP Ceramic Factory in Tríªs Rios. Both are small-scale factories producing ceramic products for the local construction industry that have replaced the fossil fuels normally burned to run their kilns with renewable biomass. Tereza Cortes, Coordinator for Rock in Rio`s For a Better World Social Project, explained that they chose to work with Sustainable Carbon this year because “[Sustainable Carbon] has credibility and in addition to the environmental benefits, their projects also have concrete actions towards social benefits.”

Read the press release

Whistler gets on top of offsetting

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) already boasts world class skiing, boarding, biking and landscapes – and can now add carbon neutrality to its list of accolades, two years ahead of its goal. As one of 179 BC Municipalities that signed the Climate Action Charter, the RMOW pledged to be operationally carbon neutral by 2012. After measuring and reducing emissions wherever possible, the municipality teamed up with Offsetters to offset the rest. Offsetters has invested in two projects for the municipality: an ISO-verified local energy efficiency and renewable energy project at SunSelect Produce in Aldergrove, and a Gold Standard wind turbine project in Turkey. “We are proud of the comprehensive carbon reduction work that the municipality is doing, and believe that by also supporting great projects that further offset our emissions, we are helping ease the transition to a low carbon future,” says Mayor Ken Melamed.

Read the press release

Climate North America

Cali oil companies: give us some credit(s)

California’s oil companies are crying foul at the state’s plan to make them buy 10 percent of the GHG permits they’ll need to cover their emissions when the program starts in 2013 – claiming it will raise prices and destroy jobs, reports Point Carbon in last week’s Carbon Market North America. ConocoPhillips has been particularly harsh in its criticism of the allocation. Chris Chandler, manager of the company’s Los Angeles refinery, claims that flaws in the California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) design of offset market regulations mean those credits will not be there to make up the difference.


Meanwhile, brokers revealed that five thousand California carbon allowances (CCAs) for delivery in 2013 traded at US$18.75/t last Thursday as the benchmark contract regained ground lost earlier in the week on the back of higher power prices. Offsets derived from the four protocols that ARB suggested will count for compliance under the program continue to be tiered based on the regulations surrounding the individual protocol – with prices for ozone depleting substance (ODS) offsets outpacing those for forestry and agricultural emissions. According to one broker, “ODS is the closest thing we have to an ARB-compliant offset.”

Read more from Carbon Market North America

Obama baits right’s climate deniers

The climate change debate is already heating up ahead of next year’s presidential race, with President Barack Obama launching a direct attack on Texas governor Rick Perry’s climate change skepticism. BusinessGreen reports that Obama, speaking at a fundraising event, called the Republican candidate’s rejection of climate science part of a “puzzling” transformation of the GOP. “I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately?” he said. “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.” Perry’s camp quickly fired back, with a spokesman telling the Hill blog that it was “outrageous” the president would mount a “political attack” based on wildfires in Texas that have resulted in the loss of 1,500 homes. All three leading Republican candidates – Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney – have expressed doubts in recent weeks over the scientific consensus on climate change.

Read the BusinessGreen article

Kyoto & Beyond

Court opinion flies in face of international aviation lobby

… and averted a crash landing when the European Court of Justice issued a preliminary opinion supporting an EU law forcing any airline landing at or departing from an EU airport to hold permits to GHGs. Despite strong international opposition, carbon trading has already begun – with the first trade of EU Aviation Allowances (AEUAs) concluded last week by Air Berlin and German-based Commerzbank, reports Climate Connect. Earlier last week the European Commission published rules detailing the allocation of allowances to airlines under the scheme. In the first trading period (2012-2013), 85 percent of allowances will be allocated free to aircraft operators, falling to 82 percent in the second period (2013-2020), with 15 percent auctioned and 3 percent set aside in a reserve for new entrants and fast growing airlines. Standard & Poor’s estimates that – assuming a carbon price of €13/tCO2 – airlines will still have to pay about €975 million next year alone.

Read more from the WSJ
Read more from Climate Connect

CDM will live, with or without you

Even if the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 without being immediately renewed, the CDM will live on – at least according to EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard. Speaking to Bloomberg, Hedegaard predicted that the EU will likely remain that market’s driving force in coming years. However, as of the beginning of 2013 the bloc will only allow the use of new offsets from projects in least developed and most vulnerable countries. Earlier this year the EU banned the import of certain industrial gas offsets as of May 2013, arguing the credits offer “exorbitant” return rates and can create a “perverse incentive” for investors. “We banned HFC-23 and that will probably not be the last ban, but it’s also not so that every second month we feel tempted to make new bans,” commented Hedegaard. “There has to be predictability in the system.”

Read the Bloomberg article

Delhi metro speeds up urban emission reductions

Delhi’s metro system has become the world’s first rail network to earn carbon credits under the CDM – aiming to reduce both GHG emissions and pollution levels in the city of 14 million. Launched in 2002, the system carries about 2 million passengers a day – eliminating an estimated 90,000 car trips, reports VOANews. A UN statement says the system has reduced emissions of harmful gases and pollution levels in the city by 630,000 tonnes a year, affording the rain network US$9.5 million annually over the next seven years. According to Anumita Roy Choudhury at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, the system is a significant step towards reducing global GHG emissions. “In the future, cities which are increasingly car centric will make the fight on global warming difficult unless we are able to make significant improvements in public transport systems,” she said.

Read more from VOA News
Read more from Edie Energy

EU refining climate policy

EU plans to make oil refiners pay for their carbon emissions credits from 2013 could lead to closures and relocations outside the EU as they struggle to avoid higher operating costs, according to a Reuters analysis. The UK refining industry is seen as being at particular risk due to government plans to set a carbon floor price that may be above the level set by the market – a £16 per tonne from April 1, 2013, rising each year to £30 per tonne in 2020. Chancellor George Osborne recently vowed the UK would not lead the rest of Europe in its efforts to cut carbon emissions – raising the prospect that the country’s carbon targets could be watered down if the EU does not agree to more ambitious emissions reduction goals. “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business,” he said.

Read the Reuters analysis
Read more from BusinessGreen

Global Policy Update

Australia’s next top carbon model

Australia’s federal Treasury has released updated carbon tax modeling forecasting the expected impact of the scheme – required due to the tax increase from A$20 to A$23 per tCO2. Although most of the results mirrored those of those of the previous model, there were some changes – including an increase in the demand for international offsets to 97 million tonnes for 2020 and 435 million tonnes for 2050, up from 94 million tonnes by 2020 and 434 million tonnes by 2050. But not everyone agrees with the forecasts – Treasury officials have fired back at claims that their carbon price modeling collapses if the US does not introduce an ETS. “The modeling is based on the US taking action but it’s not based on the US taking action specifically as an emission trading scheme,” said Treasury macroeconomic executive director David Gruen.

Read more from Climate Connect
Read more from SMH

Indonesia’s forest flip-flop

Indonesia’s President has pledged to reduce GHG emissions by at least 26 percent as part of a National Action plan, reports Climate Connect. The sectors targeted will include agriculture, forestry and peat land, energy and transportation, industry and waste management. “This is our attempt to follow-up Bali Action Plan as agreed in the UNFCCC COP 13, while meeting Indonesia’s voluntary commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 26% or up to 41% with international support by 2020,” said Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam in an official statement. Most of the emission reductions are expected to come from forestry and peat land management. Indonesia reportedly has nine REDD projects on the go, b

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