This Week In V-Carbon: Showcasing US Voluntary And Compliance Markets

Despite no national carbon market, voluntary carbon markets have matured in small pockets in the United States, as organizations continue to carry out internal emission reductions in conjunction with the purchase of carbon offsets and compliance markets move along in California. Despite these gains, don’t expect offset development at the federal level; forestry, land use and other types of offsets are likely to be shut out of the carbon regulations soon to be proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Despite no national carbon market, voluntary carbon markets have matured in small pockets in the United States, as organizations continue to carry out internal emission reductions in conjunction with the purchase of carbon offsets and compliance markets move along in California. Despite these gains, don’t expect offset development at the federal level; forestry, land use and other types of offsets are likely to be shut out of the EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.

This article was originally published in the V-Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.

25 August 2013 | Corporate experience with the voluntary carbon market is maturing in small pockets in the United States, most recently evidenced by the several years of carbon neutrality racked up by US-based organizations like  NYSE Euronext  and  Google, which continue to carry out internal emission reductions in conjunction with the purchase of carbon offsets.

By the looks of it, it won’t be long before California emitters start building up experience with offsets in the compliance market as well. Last week  saw the very first Registry Offset Credits (ROCs) issued  under California’s compliance cap-and-trade program, for an ozone depleting substances destruction project developed by Environmental Credit Corp – just one step away from being transitioned into compliance offset credits that can be used by California emitters against their compliance obligations.

While this may provide a positive signal for other project developers looking to feed offsets into the California cap-and-trade program, the broader outlook for the acceptance of offsets continues to be slow at the federal level despite the professed support for compliance flexibility by the Obama administration. Forestry, land use and other types of offsets  are likely to be shut out of the carbon regulations  soon to be proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, according to a National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) official.


“We don’t think EPA can or should allow true offset credits, say offsets from land or emissions reductions from other sectors,” says Dan Lashof, Director of the NDRC’s climate and clean air program. “We think that the universe of measures that have to be considered need to be limited to measures that have a direct impact on the emissions from the fossil fuel generating units.”


That said, the Obama administration will be supporting such offset projects through other programs as part of its efforts to ensure the US follows through on its emissions reduction pledge. Obama’s Climate Action Plan highlights REDD+ and addresses the role of the US in mitigating carbon emissions by reducing agriculture-driven deforestation. According to Lashof, other US agencies such as the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture run a range of programs designed to increase soil sequestration and to protect forests that could support offsetting projects.


Read Ecosystem Marketplace’s full coverage of the issue  here. These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading!


Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, we are preparing to transition from data collection to report-writing mode in order to bring you this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report and a debut report on cookstove projects. If you have not yet responded with data and wish to participate in either the forest carbon or cookstoves survey, please notify  Daphne Yin. Respondents to either survey can choose to be publicly recognized alongside a link to your website – and no individual data points are publicly reported.


A big thank you to the following organizations that have most recently contributed data to this year’s special cookstoves report, including:  BDA Global,  DelAgua Health and Development Programs, Potential Energy, and  Think Green.


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. 

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—The Editors

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V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Dial zero for operator

NYSE Euronext announced this week that it has reached carbon neutrality for the third consecutive year, maintaining its position as the sole global exchange operator to do so. In addition to reducing its emissions through firm-wide energy efficiency initiatives, the company purchased carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. The carbon offsets, brokered by Green Mountain Energy Company, have been verified in accordance with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and come from a landfill gas recovery project in Nebraska. NYSE Euronext’s offset and REC purchases together helped avoid 86,643 tCO2e, the equivalent of burning 201,495 barrels of oil.

   – Read press release


Silver lining on the Google cloud

Google says it has been carbon neutral for six years now, thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy, and purchasing of carbon offsets. In terms of actual emissions, the firm was reportedly responsible for 1.5 MtCO2e in 2012, a 32% fall in carbon intensity compared to 2011 figures. On top of internal measures, Google is also working to reduce the carbon footprint of others by pushing its cloud computing services, which are more energy efficient than traditional IT. The firm has historically shown support for innovative offset initiatives like Duke University and Duke Energy’s pilot system, which generates clean electricity from pig waste via anaerobic digestion.  

   – Read more about Google’s green initiatives
   – Read more about Duke project


The coast is unclear (continued)

Ecosystem Marketplace has just wrapped up its four-part series on the economics of ecosystem protection along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, first introduced in the previous edition of V-Carbon:


  • Part I  dives into the recent lawsuit that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority (SLFPAE) has filed against 100 oil and gas players for damages caused by degraded coastal lands.
  • Part II  of the series looks at Tierra Resources’ new ACR-certified offset methodology – the very first methodology for emission reductions from deltaic wetland restoration – and explains why Entergy, the major utility in the region, has embraced the project.
  • Part III  examines efforts by Entergy to mitigate climate risks more broadly in response to its losing its New Orleans headquarters for a year after Hurricane Katrina, which caused it to take a closer look at hurricane mitigation efforts.
  • Part IV  goes back to the lawsuit, with SLFPAE vice president John Barry offering insight into the lawsuit and the damage in an interview.



Un-till a market signal

A new article in the Scientific American revisits the history behind soil carbon management in US agriculture. One of the few historical efforts to encourage farmers across the US to participate in no-till agriculture was the voluntary Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), whose exchange platform closed in 2010 but in its heyday came to cover 810,000 hectares of farmland with plans to generate and sell millions of carbon offsets into a proposed nationwide cap-and-trade program.  


Despite the exchange platform shutting down, over-the-counter transactions of existing CCX credits have continued on a piecemeal basis, seeing 8.3 MtCO2e transacted in 2012 according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s  2013 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report. A third of this volume came from agriculture, forestry, and other land use projects in the US.


On the side, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has gone on to roll out conservation programs to help farmers sequester more soil carbon.  Late last year, VCS approved a soil carbon methodology developed by The Earth Partners (TEP) for use on agricultural offset projects, based on decades’ worth of USDA science. In past interactions with The Earth Partners, California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) reportedly reviewed the soil carbon methodology and acknowledged soil carbon as a potential future project type for its cap-and-trade program. TEP hopes to reengage with the ARB to push for a regional protocol on soil carbon now that the method is VCS-approved and a pilot project is underway.

   – Read more about CCX soil carbon
   – Read more about new VCS methodology


Ushering in the Brown Revolution

Clay Pope of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts recently left state borders to share the organization’s ECOpass concept with the 2013 National Rural Assembly. Under the Oklahoma program, the public can voluntarily buy ECOpasses in $5, $50, and $30 denominations equating to different levels of carbon credits that are created by practices such as no-till farming, grass and tree plantings, and improved pasture management. Famers applying these practices to their land who have signed up for the Oklahoma Carbon Initiative – with verification provided by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Carbon Program – can then receive payment for their efforts.

   – Read more


No country for old computers

Electronic waste management company E-Waste Systems, Inc. (EWSI) has just partnered with carbon accounting software provider Village Green Global to provide a streamlined product that enables organizations to cut energy costs and recover value from their old electronics while tapping into revenues from carbon credit sales. In addition to being able to arrange for e-waste collections throughout the US, EWSI is also actively exploring and entering markets abroad in the UK, China, Australia, Mexico, India, and South America. CEO and founder Martin Nielson says the immediate savings on energy consumption and recycling should appeal to even small companies who might not otherwise think to participate in the carbon market.

   – Read press release


Sustainable plantations get a second wind

EcoPlanet Bamboo – the largest owner and operator of commercial bamboo plantations outside of China – recently wrapped up its first phase of growth in which it reforested 10,000 acres of highly degraded land in Central America and Southern Africa into bamboo plantations. During this phase, the firm achieved dual validation from the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards on top of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for its plantations in Nicaragua, and was the first offset project developer to contract the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency to tap into political risk insurance. The firm now plans to pursue a second-phase goal of reforesting 1 million acres of degraded land in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and Africa, with some of its new work to potentially include an offset component.

   – Read press release


A blue outlook for BluForest investors

A new post in the REDD Monitor investigates BluForest, a publicly traded firm that reportedly owns 135,000 hectares of Ecuadorian forest from which it plans to “sell carbon offsets through [its] website to voluntary markets where no verification is required.” According to REDD Monitor, BluForest has no previous experience in forest conservation or carbon markets – instead, a history of being involved in mining, oil and gas, as well as in pump-and-dump share scams under its former identity, Greenwood Gold Resources. Last month, one George Sharp filed a civil action against BluForest for alleged fraud and negligent misrepresentation. According to BluForest’s SEC filing, the firm pre-sold 74,300 tCO2e in credits to two companies in late 2012.

   – Read more


The curious case of Kasigau

A new feature article from Thomson Reuters highlights Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya, which started in 2009 and became the first to issue REDD+ offsets under the VCS in 2011, later also verifying offsets under the CCB. The 30-year project is expected to offset 30 MtCO2e over its lifetime. Wildlife Works sells carbon credits on behalf of 4,800 landowners and communities, with carbon revenues – totaling $2 million last year in sales to buyers like BNP Paribas, Kering, La Poste, and Microsoft – going toward water and education projects or stored in a community trust. The project has reduced charcoal burning by 70% but still needs more community support to see equal declines in poaching.  

   – Read article


Climate North America

Offsets elusive but still in the running

Forestry, land use and other types of offsets are likely to be shut out of the carbon pollution standards on new and existing power plants soon to be proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. But the Obama administration will be supporting offsets through other programs as part of its efforts to ensure the US follows through on its emissions reduction pledge. Obama’s Climate Action Plan more broadly highlights REDD+ and addresses the role of the US in curbing carbon emissions by reducing agriculture-driven deforestation, and US agencies such as the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture run a range of programs designed to increase soil sequestration and to protect forests that could support offset projects.

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article


California queues it up

Last week, the American Carbon Registry (ACR) issued the first Registry Offset Credits (ROCs) under the California compliance cap-and-trade program. The credits – totaling more than 300,000 ROCs – were issued for an ozone depleting substances destruction project developed by Environmental Credit Corp, which plans to file a request to the ARB to transition the credits into compliance offset credits that can in turn be used by California emitters against their compliance obligations. To date, ACR has listed five California compliance offset projects and four early action projects, with several California offset projects in the listing process, and is part of the ARB working groups for two upcoming compliance protocols for rice cultivation and mine methane capture.

   – Read press release


Global Policy Update

Stop in the name of the environment!

Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, recently published a guide to carbon trading crime in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Environment Canada, and the Netherlands Government. The document examines areas within the industry susceptible to manipulation, includes case studies of carbon fraud, and provides guidance to support national authorities in creating policing measures. “It is imperative that the carbon trading markets remain secure from fraud, not just to protect financial investment, but also because the global environment depends upon it,” says Andrew Lauterback, senior criminal enforcement counsel at the US EPA and chair of the Interpol Environmental Crime Committee.

   – Read guide
   – Read press release


Australian carbon farming in the weeds

Researchers have pinpointed invasive weeds such as gamba grass as a potential threat to landholder involvement in savanna burning, one of the eligible offset project types under Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). “There’s a large disparity between the profits generated from savanna burning – $1.92 per hectare – and the costs of managing gamba grass – $40 per hectare – meaning that much more savanna needs to be enrolled for carbon farming to cover the costs of weed eradication,” says study co-author Vanessa Adams. More broadly, Australia’s recent decision to transition early to an emissions trading scheme in July 2014 and coinciding linkage with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has raised concerns about whether the market price would be enough to support domestic offsetting under the CFI.

   – Read more


Carbon Finance

Tracking REDD+ tracking (continued)

Forest Trends’ REDDX and the Overseas Development Institute’s Climate Funds Update recently launched Parts III and IV of the organizations’ collaborative series that explains existing REDD+ finance tracking projects – including Forest Trends’ own new  REDDX expenditures tracking initiative  – while identifying niches and possible cross-over areas to directly support more comprehensive assessments of REDD+ policy and finance gaps and needs.


  • Part III, Lessons from the US: The Tropical Forest Group shares findings from tracking US REDD+ spending and the difficulties in following finance which is managed across a number of different agencies and in very different ways. Data from 2008-2011 reveals that US REDD+ finance has focused primarily on forest nations with large forests, relatively high GDP, and the smallest overall capacity gaps for executing national forest monitoring systems that can link with an international REDD+ framework.
  • Part IV, What do we know about the private sector contribution?  The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative discusses the need for stronger engagement with private sector players, clearer definitions of what constitutes REDD+ private sector finance (do investments into activities that contribute to REDD+ but aren’t directly linked to REDD+ VERs count?), and more strategic targeting of public sector dollars in order to improve the financial attractiveness of REDD+ for the private sector.



Featured Jobs

Program Assistant – Ecosystem Marketplace’s Valorando Naturaleza

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Spanish language sister site ValorandoNaturaleza.Org is seeking a temporary part time program assistant. The position will run for an initial 4 month consulting contract, beginning as early as September 2013, with potential for extension. The Program Assistant will help maintain the website by managing content, researching news and events and support the development of a news brief. Candidates should have native Spanish with strong English communication skills and excellent Spanish writing skills and basic knowledge of the carbon markets or other ecosystem services finance mechanisms.

   – Read more about the position here


Manager, Marketing Communications – Offsetters

Based in British Columbia, Manager of Marketing Communications has accountability for the execution of client strategies, business-to-business marketing plans, and media management. Candidates should have a university degree in Commerce, Marketing or Business Administration and experience in a marketing role.  

   – Read more about the position here


Program Officer – Verified Carbon Standard

Based in Washington, D.C., the Program Officer will provide support on a number of tasks including providing guidance to project developers and other stakeholders, helping ensure the quality of projects entering the registry system, and managing methodologies being developed under the VC methodology approval process. Candidates should have a university degree and an understanding of GHG concepts, including voluntary and compliance carbon markets, the development of projects and methodologies, and the role of validation/verification bodies.

   – Read more about the position here


Technical Communications Adviser – Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative

Based in Tanzania, the Technical Communications Adviser will build MCDI’s communications capacity, provide technical analyst support, and assist in coordinating MCDI’s research-related activities and partnerships. Candidates should have a Master’s level degree in a relevant discipline and at least 1 year’s previous experience in Africa or other developing countries.

   – Read more about the position here


Senior Program Officer, Climate Change Adaptation – World Wildlife Fund

Based in Washington D.C., the Senior Program Officer will lead vulnerability assessment workshops in WWF priority places and provide technical support to WWF US programs and WWF field offices to conduct vulnerability assessments and guidance on mainstreaming climate change and disaster risk considerations into conservation strategies. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree and 6 years of experience, or a Master’s degree and 2 years of experience focused on conservation, environmental policy and management, climate change, or international development.  

   – Read more about the position here


Manager, Climate Change – The Skoll Global Threats Fund

Based in California, the Climate Change Manager will working closely with both the Climate Change Director and the Director of Policy and Communications to serve as a strategic collaborator to advance initiative planning and explore future opportunities to innovatively address the climate crisis. Candidates should have a Master’s degree in public policy, social or environmental science and at least 10 years’ experience working on climate change issues, either in advocacy, policy or research.

   – Read more about the position here


Chief of Party, Sustainable Forests and Climate Adaptation Project – Tetra Tech ARD

Based in India, the Chief of Party will be responsible for an active USAID-funded climate change adaptation and REDD+ project in India. Candidates should have an advanced degree in forestry, climate change, natural resource management and 10+ years of experience working on forest conservation and sustainable management of forests, climate change adaptation, REDD+ methodologies, and/or clean energy projects.  

   – Read more about the position here




Voluntary Market Events

Trends in the North American Voluntary Offset Market
Thursday, September 12, 10-11AM PDT –

Please join the Climate Action Reserve for a webinar presentation on recent trends in North America’s voluntary market for carbon offsets, featuring insights from independent market researchers Ecosystem Marketplace. During this one-hour webinar, the Climate Action Reserve along with special guest Ecosystem Marketplace, will provide an overview of the recently released 2013 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report. Other invited speakers represent a third-party offset certification body and a large corporate buyer to present and discuss the evolution of voluntary offsetting – from its growing role in corporate sustainability, to its inclusion in new and emerging green building standards, to new ways that large consumer brands are engaging with their customers by investing in carbon offset projects to make more meaningful and long-term commitments to reduce their carbon footprints. This webinar is free and open to the public, but space is limited – so register now!


   – Register for webinar




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].

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