This Week in V-Carbon

Before the Thanksgiving food coma sets in, read the latest from the v-carbon world – including a glimpse into Durban coverage. In addition: Australia has a new carbon law; there has been progress in China’s regional pilot emissions trading programs; and a new study has been released looking at the economic benefits of RGGI.

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.

21 November 2011 | Before the Carbon team gets to eating far too much turkey and corn bread at our respective Thanksgiving Dinners, we’ve been putting in long hours to make sure we deliver some great resources to make following the COP 17 events and negotiations a breeze, even if you can’t make it to Durban. We’ve highlighted side events we think our readers travelling to the COP will be interested in.
We’re also going to have great new content up this week, including pre-Durban must-reads and a guide to post-Cancun, pre-Durban decisions and discussions that will inform this year’s COP.

Now, the news: We saw Australia’s carbon law, which established a carbon tax in 2012 and a market in 2015, pass in the senate. Gillard seemed emboldened by the passage of the law, speaking to Carbon Expo attendees (video) in Melbourne, saying “The time for words was yesterday, the time for action is today.” Her cabinet were busy discussing possible links to the EU and NZ carbon markets, while Gillard tactfully discussed the legislation with President Obama, who applauded the efforts of Gillard but made no indication that the U.S. would pursue a simliar strategy.

There was progress in China’s efforts to launch regional pilot emissions trading programs around the country, as China’s Industrial Bank Co. signing an agreement with the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange to provide banking for the planned market, which is set to launch in 2013. 10 businesses bought over 140,000 tonnes of offsets in the first sale of credits for the China Green Carbon Foundation’s pilot voluntary program, which will use forest revenue from forest carbon projects to fund increased forest cover to reach the ambitious targets set out in   China’s 12th 5 year plan.

A new study from the Analysis Group must have Governors Christie and Lynch of New Jersey and New Hampshire fuming. It shows that RGGI delivers positive economic results for participating states. The two governors, backed by the republican parties in those states, advocated for bowing out of the regional initiative, citing job loss and negative economic growth as reasons – the opposite of what the study found.
—The Editors

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

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

COP 17 side-events made easy

Every year it’s the same at COP events: everyone gets the intimidating list of side-events and has to spend every morning figuring out who wants to attend what, where. Well, this year we decided to do ourselves (and our readers) a favor by pouring over the entire 12-day schedule of side-events and highlighting those events that will interest you (and us) most – including the side-events we’ll be covering. We’ll also update the daily schedule live from Durban as interesting content or networking events arise (ahem, NGO party!). So whether you want try wrap your head around NAMAs or see what’s in store for market linkages, there’s a side event for that.

See our blog post over at

A Noble hunt

Noble Group, parent of voluntary carbon credits operator Noble Carbon Credits, is on the prowl for a new CEO after its chief executive Ricardo Leiman quit last Thursday. Leiman left behind the pressure of a $17 million third-quarter loss at the company – one of the world’s biggest commodities traders. The company blames “the recent dramatic decline in the price of short-dated CERs (Certified Emissions Reductions) – a maturity that we cannot hedge against,” for sizable loss compared to a $157 million profit in the same period in 2010. According to Reuters, Noble is listed as a participant in 80 CDM projects worldwide.

Read more from Reuters

China Green Carbon Foundation’s forest trade

China has begun selling offsets under a new voluntary domestic forest carbon program. The revenue generated by the sale of offsets will fund the expansion of forest under the 12th Five Year Plan, as well as to pay farmers for planting and maintaining forests. So far 10 companies have purchased a total of 148,000 tons. The program is currently in a pilot stage, with the China Green Carbon Foundation and the East China Forestry Exchange developing a trading platform for the market.

Read about China’s forest carbon market

ClimateSmart not renewing

Californian power utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) will not renew their ClimateSmart program after the number of customers signing up for the service declined. The program allows customers to offset emissions equivalent to their power usage offset by projects such as methane capture and forest carbon sequestration, generally tacking on about $3.30 to an electricity bill per household each month. Still, interest in the program was tepid, with fewer than a fifth of PG&E’s 168,000 customers signing up for the program at its peak in 2008. However, the program was considered a success, a spokeswoman said, as it led to the reduction of 1.3 million tonnes of CO2. The program had its critics, with watchdog groups questioning how much of a difference the program made, and pointing out that even without customer involvement, PG&E was still liable for offsetting 1.3 million tonnes.

Read about the ClimateSmart program

Renewable Choice chooses CDP (again)

Renewable Choice Energy just announced its renewal as an Accredited Consulting Partner to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Renewable Choice is a Colorado-based company offering renewable energy and carbon offsets and greenhouse gas measurement services. It’s had a long-standing close relationship with CDP: it was a founding partner in the Accredited Consultancy program and has consulted on close to 100 clients’ responses to CDP. “It is exciting to be a part of the growth of voluntary carbon disclosure and reporting that is CDP’s mission,” said Renewable Choice CEO and founder Quayle Hodek, citing CDP’s growing influence.

Read the press release at SFGate

Katz makes move

Erik Katz, most recently CEO of North American project developer BlueSource, will now be acting as the CEO of ThinkEco, a company that develops hardware and software energy-efficiency solutions. BlueSource do not appear to have named a successor to Katz, but we’ll keep you posted.

Read the press release

Australia’s voluntary and mandatory markets should get along just fine

A panel convened to ponder the future of Australia’s voluntary market at last week’s Australiasia Carbon Expo were optimistic that offsets will enjoy a “complementary” co-existence with the impending mandatory market, even as major offsetters like Qantas make the move to the mandatory scheme. “The voluntary space has room for innovation. It allows companies to show leadership,” noted Freddy Sharpe, CEO of Climate Friendly. “[Companies] can go beyond the very modest government-set targets.” Speakers also pointed to offsets’ ability to offer buyers co-benefits for indigenous communities or biodiversity, as in the government’s Climate Farming Initiative (CFI). CFI kicked off its first project in July, which is expected to generate as much as 1.5 million credits a year.

Read more from Climate Spectator

Reduce & Retire: The Latest on Carbon Neutral

City of Sydney is officially net emissions zero

The City of Sydney just announced that it has achieved carbon neutrality under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) – the first city council in Australia to do so. Getting to carbon neutral included purchasing 50,014 tCO2e worth of offsets from a waste heat recovery project in China [] last year, as well as a mix of energy efficiency programs and renewable energy investments to reduce emissions. Altogether these efforts represent a reduction of 210,000 tonnes since 2008, when the city first unofficially reached carbon neutrality. “We are on track to reach one of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets of any Australian government – 70 per cent by 2030 from 2006 levels,” said Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP.

Read more from 9 News
Read the City of Sydney’s press release

Climate North America

RGGI pays off for states

A new study by the Analysis Group shows that states participating in RGGI [] have actually reaped economic gains by requiring power plants to participate in carbon allowance auctions, a finding that counters a common criticism of the cap-and-trade approach. In the last three years, RGGI’s delivered $1.6 billion in economic benefits to its ten participating states, and roughly 16,000 jobs thanks to “ripple effects” from carbon auctions, according to the study’s authors. “There’s no evidence yet that a program like [RGGI] would kill the economy or kill jobs.” said Paul J. Hibbard, a lead author of the study. States that reinvested proceeds from allowance auctions in energy efficiency incentives got an even bigger economic boost.

Read more at the Baltimore Sun

Pew Center morphs into new center

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is taking on a new name and funding model as of this month, becoming the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). But the organization will remain largely the same – a non-partisan, non-profit think tank involved in climate science and policy. The change was prompted by the loss of funding from the Pew Charitable Trust, which is transitioning from a private foundation to a public charity. C2ES will now look to private organizations and businesses for its funding, including Entergy, HP, Shell and Alcoa, to make up for the $3.5 million in lost funding from the Pew Charitable Trust.

Read Business Week’s take
And read the press release

Western Climate Initiative…Incorporated.

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is striking out for new territory, announcing plans to create a new non-profit corporation. WCI, Inc. will offer technical and administrative services for state and provincial emissions trading and support ongoing integration of the participating jurisdictions’ trading programs. Initial plans are to develop a compliance tracking system that covers both offset certificates and allowances, and conduct market monitoring of allowance and offset trades. WCI, Inc.’s inaugural Board of Directors includes officials from Quebec and British Columbia provinces and the State of California.

Read WCI’s Inc.’s press release/a>

Kyoto & Beyond

Coal plants applying for CDM credits have come under fire after a report from the Stockholm Institute has shown that plants are inflating the benefits of switching from subcritical to supercritical technology (supercritial plants run their biolers at much higher temperature). The criticism centers on coal plant’s claim that they’ll only switch to supercritical technology given an incentive like the opportunity to generate CERs, however, the report finds that plants switch for a number of reasons, putting the additionality component of CDM validation into question. The Sierra Club and CDM Watch pointed out this, as well as other problems with coal plant methodologies this last summer, but the CDM Methodology Panel has been slow to act since then. This new study (PDF) could be the straw to break the coal camel’s back. Meanwhile, criticism is also being leveled at South Africa’s plan to employ CCS technology to reduce carbon emissions from its many coal plants. Advocates of CCS in the country were pointing to it as the only realistic solution in a country primarily powered by coal, while critics said that utilizing CCS would put coal power at about the same price as renewables and was an unproven technology that helped utilities justify the construction of more coal plants.

Read about the Stockholm Institute’s findings
Read about South Africa’s CCS debate

Credits for bulbs in Mexico

Good news for clean-tech in Mexico: recent developments announced in Melbourne will enable Mexico to earn royalties on carbon credits generated by the wide-spread installation of energy-efficient light bulbs in low-income households. . Australian project develop Cool NRG International, supported by Bank of America Merril Lynch will distribute 45 million light bulbs – this massive retrofit is projected to cut 16 million tonnes of CO2 over 10 years. CERs generated will be sold to climate investors in developed nations (with an eye on Australian investors), and Mexico will receive a royalty that is partially fixed and partially market-based. The project is viewed as a potential model for other developing countries to fund their own emissions reducing technologies.

Read more from Reuters

Global Policy Update

AU’s done it!

Now that Australia’s Clean Energy Future legislation is officially on the books after passing a vote in the Senate last week, activity around the carbon pricing mechanism is taking off. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard was already mentioning ongoing talks to link Australia’s carbon market with New Zealand and the European Union. While some businesses seem wary of building up portfolios of carbon credits given the opposition party’s pledge to overturn the law after elections in 2013, carbon brokers and project developers had a bullish view of the market post-2015, when the scheme transitions from a flat tax to a cap-and-trade program.

When that cap-and-trade program begins, businesses will have the option of meeting 50% of their obligations with offsets generated abroad (the other 50% will be generated domestically under programs like the Carbon Farming Initiative, as well as other project methodologies being developed by the Australian government), with companies like the Netherlands-based utility Eneco teaming up with an Australia-based project developer Ramp Carbon to capitalize on the new market for foreign offsets. Meanwhile, the ASX Group, who operate Australia’s main stock exchange, announced that they will be offering secondary and futures markets for carbon allowances in advance of the 2015 cap-and-trade program – likely a good move, given the current low prices of international offsets, such as CERs, which are eligible under the law.

Read more about developers’ and brokers’ outlook
Read about Australia’s plan to link up with New Zealand and the EU
Read more about Australia’s upcoming secondary and carbon futures market

AU’s first CFI methodology

Australia has approved its first methodology for the Climate Farming Initiative, which aims to reduce emissions from the agriculture and land-use sector by offering opportunities to generate offsets for Australia’s new carbon market as well as international carbon markets. More than 680 commercial piggeries are eligible to utilize the methodology. The “Methodology for the Destruction of Methane Generated from Manure in Piggeries”, will soon be joined by methodologies to reduce emissions from savanna burning, landfill gas capture, and forest carbon projects.

Read about the methodology

Carbon Trading 2.0

With an ongoing slump in the EU ETS and European and Japanese support for CDM on the wane, some are declaring carbon trading a failure. Not so fast, say market watchers, who point to a new wave of markets coming online that have paid close attention to the lessons of the early models. “The carbon market is not dead,” said Wolfgang Sterk of Germany’s Wuppertal Institute. “It is still seen by many as the most flexible way to cut emissions. Australia and California don’t care how low prices are in the E.U.” In the second generation, says the New York Times, expect a more unified widespread market to replace project-based crediting as under the CDM. Australia and California will both allow relatively high levels of offsets, driving demand for international credits and capital into developing countries for offsets. The Australian market, for example, is expected to generate demand for 100 million credits a year.

Read more at the New York Times

UK CRC League Table is out

The UK Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) league table has been released, ranking energy-intensive organizations on their carbon management. Its data will used to calculate the UK carbon levy (right?) but for the most part impacts will be reputational, since it’s no longer a basis for carbon credits allocation under the now-defunct credit scheme. The CRC League Table so far has had an uneven reception; a major criticism has been that its metrics – which must accommodate a wide variety of sectors and firm type– aren’t very useful. The table measures emissions just over the last year, and also considers factors like participation in the Carbon Trust Standard.

Read the KPMG article
Read more from Data Center Dynamics

Japan to announce trading plan to neighbors

Japan will present its proposal for an emissions trading scheme at the East Asia Summit taking place in Indonesia this weekend. They have been pursuing a bilateral mechanism that would act alongside the current CDM but expand opportunities for developing nations to access Japanese low-carbon technologies in order to generate carbon credits. The announcement is likely a pre-COP 17 attempt to bolster support for the bilateral ETS among East Asian countries, many of whom would stand to benefit from a more flexible mechanism than the CDM.

Read more

This investigation sponsored by BBC Trust

Following a full investigation by BBC Trust into its own BBC World News’ sponsorship practices, the international media organization has been banned from buying certain programmes and accepting some sponsorship deals. What does this have to do with carbon, you ask? A focus of the investigation were alleged breaches of BBC’s editorial guidelines in shows about carbon trading, among 15 other programmes. The investigation found that BBC accepted programming on Malaysia from FBC Media – whose parent company has financial ties to the Malaysian government. Another show, Taking the Credit, was funded by a company called the Africa Carbon Livelihood Trust, which had links to Envirotrade, an offset project developer featured in the documentary. According to the BBC Trust there was a conflict of interest because “there was an inextricable link between the funder organisation and a project featured in the programme.” A spokesperson for BBC World News countered, “There were breaches of BBC guidelines though we note that the trust report found no breaches of impartiality in any of the programmes.”

Read more from the Guardian

China tests the water on carbon trading

Last week the State Council approved a plan to cut emissions that includes a commitment toward developing carbon markets in China. Five cities and two provinces were selected to test carbon emissions controls, including Shanghai, which will pilot an emissions trading market beginning in 2013. A nationwide trading program could go live by 2015. According to Mei Dewen, president of the China Beijing Environment Exchange, “China can adopt both an absolute carbon cap and voluntary carbon trading in the beginning to test the waters, then gradually consolidate the two measures.” The Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange has already inked a deal with Industrial Bank to finance trading activities on the exchange’s planned platform; Industrial Bank will manage funds transacted and provide liquidity for the Shanghai exchange.

Read coverage on the emissions control work program at China Daily
Read the Bloomberg Businessweek article on Shanghai’s emissions trading platform

Green Power Play: Renewable Energy

Infosys neutral – but not on offsets

Indian IT giant Infosys is taking a major step toward carbon neutrality by announcing plans to rely exclusively on renewable sources for its energy requirements by 2017. At the present, renewable energy accounts for 20% of Infosys’ total energy use. Increases in renewable energy combined with implementation of energy efficiency technologies will help Infosys meet its sustainability targets, even as the company expands at a rapid pace (Infosys adds about 2-3 million square feet of infrastructure space per year). Large-scale renewable energy use in India is a growing trend – Tulsi R. Tanti, Chariman of Suzlon Energy, says that ‘50 percent of India’s energy requirements [will] be met by renewable energy by 2017.’

Read more

Featured Jobs

General Manager, China Carbon Forum

The China Carbon Forum seeks a General Manager for a year long, part-time position in fund raising and and management.

Read more about the position here

Multiple Openings, The Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust has multiple openings in its London office, both in Carbon Trust Certification and Advisory Services.

Read more about the position here

Manager – Climate and Energy, ICF

The ICF London office seeks a manager to attract and manage climate policy, carbon market, renewable energy and adaptation contracts for European Commission.

Read more about the position here

Associate / Senior Associate – Collective Climate Action Objective, World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute’s Climate and Energy Program seeks an Associate or Senior Associate to undertake project planning and management, research, analysis and writing, and outreach and communications for the Collective Climate Action Obj

Additional resources

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