This Week in Forest Carbon: Leaping Forward!…Or Not

Over the past two weeks in forest carbon news Africa and China made big leaps, California assumed a holding pattern, Indonesia is (still) debating internally whether and how to move, and a handful of major international policy and finance meetings continue rolling in through Southeast Asia.  Details on these and other stories inside Forest Carbon News.

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

31 March 2011 |   Over the past two weeks in forest carbon news Africa and China made big leaps, California assumed a holding pattern, Indonesia is (still) debating internally whether and how to move, and a handful of major international policy and finance meetings continue rolling in through Southeast Asia.

In Kenya, the African Carbon Exchange had a soft launch, showing off the new trading platform to reporters. In China, the Panda Standard is pulling back the curtain on a growing domestic appetite for carbon offsets and trading with the first contracted sales from a bamboo reforestation project.

California’s battle-tested Air Resources Board (ARB) has encountered challenges to their cap-and-trade plan at every corner. This month, a judge in San Francisco’s Superior Court ruled that the ARB didn’t adequately investigate alternatives to cap-and-trade before beginning the development of the program. It remains unclear whether this detour will result in a delay for the cap-and-trade start date of January 1, 2012.

In Indonesia, President Yudhoyono has been walking a fine line with forest industry and environmentalists eagerly awaiting a final signal on the President’s long-awaited decree on a moratorium for forest clearing, a key component of the $1 billion deal forged with Norway last year.   Just how he plans to keep his pledge to keep Indonesia’s title as the world’s largest palm oil producer while honoring the REDD deal with Norway remains to be seen.

On the international policy and finance front, the UN-REDD Programme and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) wrapped up board meetings in Vietnam last week.   Ecuador received $4 million in funds to advance a national REDD program, and new funders put $57 million more on the table.   On the FCPF side, the readiness proposals for seven countries were reviewed, and a progress report on the development of safeguard procedures for other finance delivery partners for FCPF funds was presented.

Up next, meetings of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Groups will be kicking off April 3 in Bangkok and are slated to include discussions of the much-debated “elaboration of market-based mechanisms” for climate finance delegated from Cancun.     And on the heels of the UNFCCC, the 71 countries and numerous stakeholders comprising the REDD+ Partnership will also be in session in Bangkok, the first meeting with new co-chairs at the helm.  

As always, read on for all this and more of the latest news and events in this, latest edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News Brief.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].


International Policy

Readiness Funds Wrap Up Vietnam Meetings

Last week in Da Lat, Boards from the UN-REDD Programme and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility got down to business for funding REDD+ Readiness. Norway, Japan, and the European Commission sidled up to the table with new pledges amounting to $57 million, and the members of the UN-REDD Policy Board were treated to reviews of country progress in Cambodia, DR Congo and Nigeria before being invited to submit comments on proposed criteria for implementing REDD+ safeguards recorded in the Cancun Agreements. Check out all the meeting documentation including presentations and reports given from the UN-REDD website here.

The FCPF similarly reviewed feedback on readiness proposals from seven countries, including a guest commentary by the World Resources Institute (PDF). A presentation (PDF) on the FCPF’s Carbon Fund disavowed the initiation of a global REDD+ carbon trading mechanism, and a progress report from the Meridian Institute gives the latest update (PDF) on a taskforce to develop shared safeguards across development banks poised to deliver funding from the FCPF. For the real wonks out there, check out the latest issue note (PDF) on how the Carbon Fund intends to go about pricing the emissions reductions payments to countries. Find all this and more documentation from the FCPF website here.

AWG-LCA Resume Debate Over Markets

Originally conceived from the 2007 Bali Action Plan, the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action will meet in Bali April 3-8 with sessions to explore ways of advancing the MRV capacity of developing countries and review market- and nonmarket-based mechanism options for climate funding. Gearing up for a big fight over market mechanisms, 22 country delegations, and 31 submissions from observer organizations make the case for and against markets. And reinstating its objection to being sidelined in Cancun, Bolivia proposes its own agenda for the entire meeting and looks to turn the clock back to the Bali Action Plan. Read all this and more on the UNFCCC website here.

REDD+ Partnership to Hang Around in Bangkok

From April 10-11, the REDD+ Partnership is set to begin its first meeting under the new leadership of co-chairs Brazil and France. From reviewing the latest round of REDD+ financing data collected in a survey sent out last week to country focal points to “taking ownership” of the findings from the gap and overlap analysis on REDD+ financing presented to the Partnership in December, the Partners are gearing up for a one-day housekeeping meeting followed by a one-day workshop to share experiences on implementing demonstration activities and review the preliminary findings of a commissioned report on the effectiveness of multi-lateral REDD+ finance mechanisms (e.g. UN-REDD and FCPF). Read the latest plan of action from the co-chairs and more documentation for the upcoming meeting from the REDD+ Partnership’s website here.


US Policy

Are We There Yet?

California’s cap and trade program has once again been put on ice after a Judge from San Francisco’s Superior Court ruled that the California’s Air Resources Board had not properly considered alternative policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ruling does not reverse California’s climate change law, but it does increase the chance that the scheme’s tentative start date will be pushed back from January 1, 2012 and adds the possibility of new complimentary policies to address equity issues with air pollution that may result from the scheme. Read more about the ruling in the New York Times here and how regulators are responding here.

National Strategy & Capacity

Clearing the Way for the Moratorium?

Last week the Indonesian Congress sent a delegation to Norway to clarify several clauses in the Letter of Intent outlining the terms for receiving the pledged $1 billion. Several sources within Indonesia’s government also now expect the presidential decree formalizing a ban on new forest concessions to be signed sometime this month. According to the Minister of Environment, a ban has already effectively been placed on clearing peatland and primary forests, and the decree will simply provide legal certainty. Check out the Jakarta Globe here to read an update on Indonesia’s long-awaited forest moratorium, and read about the delegation to Norway from Kontan here (translated by Google, original in Indonesian here).

Ecuador Wins UN-REDD Bucks

The UN-REDD Programme has approved $4 million in funding for Ecuador’s National Programme for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation. The funds will go towards building government capacity to engage stakeholders and finalizing its REDD readiness phase. And while Ecuador’s REDD team were likely celebrating that night, the delegation from Nigeria were a bit upset, hoping to secure additional funding for their own impressive efforts. Read the press release at UN-REDD’s website here.

Fiji Reports MRV Progress

After Fiji finished convening the second round of consultations for its REDD-plus national strategy, there now appears to be widespread agreement that progress is being made to setup Fiji’s national MRV system. Remote sensors will be used to measure forest area change, while on the ground forest inventories will be used to measure carbon stocks. The team is currently working to measure historical forest carbon changes to help inform baseline scenarios. To read further about Fiji’s REDD update, check out the Fiji Times here.

Finance & Economics

Kenya’s Carbon Exchange a First

Africa now has its own carbon exchange as the African Carbon Exchange (ACE) was launched in Kenya this month. The Exchange is currently supported by the the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as well as utilities like KenGen and KPLC, with local and regional banks looking to invest in the local projects coming online. Stakeholders are hoping that a local exchange will yield greater benefits for local project developers and market players, and spur the development of projects in the region. Read about the ACE from Ecosystem Marketplace here.

Market Mechanisms in the Doldrums?

Last week in the journal Nature, Andy White of the Rights and Resources Initiative argues that the REDD+ dialogue needs to chart a new course in light of growing criticism of potential market mechanisms. Recognizing indigenous rights is highly correlated with better forest stewardship, White instead encourages more direct investment in tenure reform as the best measure that can be applied quickly for reigning in global deforestation. Get the full view from Nature here.

Methodology & Standards Watch

Green Means Go

The Center for Resource Solutions is seeking stakeholder comments for updates to their Green-e Climate Standard. The Green-e Climate Standard informs which GHG Project Certification Programs and GHG Emission Allowance Programs will be included in the Green-e Program as eligible sources of GHG emissions reductions to supply Green-e Climate Certified Products. The comment period will be open until May 25. View the original announcement here, and see the summary of proposed changes here (PDF).

Friends with Green House Gas Benefits

A new VCS methodology will allow projects practicing improved forest management (IFM) to quantify emissions reductions from the curbing of selective logging. The “Methodology for Calculating the GHG Benefits from Preventing Planned Degradation,” was developed by Carbon Planet Limited and has completed the obligatory two rounds of review. Read a statement from VCS here (PDF) and access the methodology here.


Panda Hits the Ground Running

Carbon credits certified by China’s Panda Standard were sold on Tuesday March 29, marking the first time a carbon credit transaction has occurred using the standard. The purchase of credits from a bamboo reforestation project by a Chinese real estate firm signals a willingness in China to pay for local carbon reductions. Read more about the transaction as reported by our own Molly Peters-Stanley at Ecosystem Marketplace here.

Human Dimension

Concession Bonanza Backfires in PNG

Following last-year’s major legislative revision to shield extractive industries from litigation over environmental damages from PNG’s communal land rightsholders, serious allegations are flying now as “Special Agricultural and Business Lease” grants have conceded more than 2.6 million hectares for corporate use over the past year. The latest concessions of nearly 700,000 hectares in January appear to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, provoking an appeal by several NGOs to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which in return sent an “urgent” request to PNG for a clarifying report (to add to the backlog of reports PNG has not submitted since 1984). Read more about property rights issues in Papua New Guinea at Mongabay here, and check out the NGO’s appeal and related documentation from REDD-Monitor here.

Would You Say I Have a Plethora of Safeguards?

The answer from the Forest People’s Program and FERN appears to be a resounding “no.” A new report called “Smoke and Mirrors” peers into a dizzying array of publicly available documentation from the World Bank and its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), giving a close analysis of safeguards policy documents and submitted REDD Readiness Proposals. Arguing the FCPF has neglected a need for major legal and policy reforms in REDD+ countries in favor of developing strong MRV capacity and paving the way for carbon markets, the critique centers largely on how complex and often confusing safeguards language may have left open the door for countries with unclear tenure and indigenous rights policies to further marginalize local communities living in or near forests. For those gluttons for technical document reviews, prepare yourself for a smorgasbord here.

Science & Technology Review

Community Forest Governance = Biodiversity + Income

New research in the journal Science shows a strong positive correlation between community forest governance, income levels, and biodiversity. The study examined 84 sites from 6 countries across East Africa and South Asia and notes that the correlation holds particularly true to smaller forests located near highly populated areas. The paper’s conclusion provides support for the notion that putting forest governance in the hands of local communities will reduce deforestation and protect biodiversity. Read Mongabay’s article summarizing the paper here or download the article from the website of the Rights and Resources Initiative here (PDF)

Publications & Tools

Markets Unlikely to Meet REDD+ Goals…

…argues a new analysis from the trading platform information technology brains behind the Munden Project. The major finding? The achievement of the goals of REDD+ (e.g., forest and biodiversity conservation, enhancement of livelihoods, and efficient emissions reductions) are very unlikely if a market for generating, trading, and financing REDD+ offset credits develops using a centralized derivatives trading framework. Estimating <5% of REDD+ credit value will flow to local agents in a position to secure REDD+ goals, a $500 billion/yr market would be required to offset opportunity costs on the ground (of which a vast majority would flow to intermediaries). Additionally, the report raises several commodities-trading-based critiques of the underlying process for creating and estimating supply of the credits themselves. Access the full report from the Rights and Resources Initiative’s website here.


A Biodiversity Markets Webinar

Ecosystem Marketplace is hosting a webinar event Friday, April 1, with co-hosts Mission Markets. It will feature an expert panel, with Becca Madsen of Ecosystem Marketplace, Frank Vorhies of Earth Mind, Ricardo Bayon of Eko Asset Management Patners, and Mike Van Patten of Mission Markets. Madsen will give an overview of the newly launched Global Species Banking website, followed by presentations from the other panelists, and a live Q and A session. View the announcement here and register here.



Are you looking for a job as a Timber Trade Officer at WWF or maybe a GIS techician in Laos? Learn about these and other job opportunities at Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings


The 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.


Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our voluntary carbon markets program are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact [email protected].

Additional resources

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.