This Week In V-Carbon: Life Beyond Doha

Standards hatch new initiatives, with Gold Standard and Fairtrade announcing a new alliance in support of small producers, while VCS and CCB cut costs for project developers with a joint approval process. VCS approves a new soil carbon methodology developed by The Earth Partners. InfiniteEARTH’s proposed 30-year REDD project in Indonesia  gets the green light, prevailing over palm oil interests. 

Standards hatch new initiatives, with Gold Standard and Fairtrade announcing a new alliance in support of small producers, while VCS and CCB cut costs for project developers with a joint approval process. VCS approves a new soil carbon methodology developed by The Earth Partners. InfiniteEARTH’s proposed 30-year REDD project in Indonesia   gets the green light, prevailing over palm oil interests.

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

From the shores of Doha…

8 December 2012 | …it remains to be seen if the formal negotiations will be a wash or deliver sea change. Whatever the outcome, Ecosystem Marketplace has worked diligently to bring you COP18 news as it surfaces.  

Before we survey the latest market news, Ecosystem Marketplace is surveying readers for their input on the “biggest” stories of 2012, and predictions for 2013 – to be published in our end-of-year special edition.  Tell us here!  We will randomly select a few predictions for publication in the special edition, along with a link to your website – so gaze into your crystal ball and make a call!

Now on to the news, country negotiators have been struggling to reach consensus on the nature of the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol through 2020 (to include  “hot air” surplus credits  from the first commitment period or not?) and to shape a new agreement on emissions reduction commitments for 2020 onward. On the forestry front, Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes  the first week of climate negotiations  with a forest focus, honing in on the issue of how much verification should be required for recipient countries’ emissions reductions claims before donor countries like Norway can continue funding REDD.


At the project level,  Doha carried with it the long-awaited news that Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry finally  reversed its decision  to sideline half of InfiniteEARTH’s REDD project area for palm oil – a triumph for REDD advocates that makes way for 104 MtCO2e in reductions over thirty years.


Also in the voluntary carbon markets, environmental project standards have found new ways to complement each other’s work.  In Doha last Friday, the Gold Standard announced a  new alliance with Fairtrade  in order to scale up carbon finance for small producers across offset project types. The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) recently also launched a  joint approval process  with the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance for  VCS-CCB certification, designed to lower transaction costs for forestry and land-use projects seeking credit for both emissions reductions and co-benefits.


“VCS looks forward to working more closely with CCBA, as well as other standards like SOCIALCARBON, to continue to develop innovative ways to enhance our tagging procedure, add further value to Verified Carbon Units and ultimately help the environment,” says  Jerry Seager, Chief Program Officer at VCS, on the new partnership.  


Last week, VCS also approved a new  soil carbon quantification methodology  developed by The Earth Partners that credits emissions reductions and removals from projects that improve soils through land-based agriculture, forestry and other land use projects. The methodology, based on decades of soil carbon research and testing conducted by top global soil scientists, is currently being piloted with farmers across seven million acres of the Palouse and Columbia Plateau region in the US Pacific Northwest.


“The methodology provides a standard way to bring into the marketplace what many landowners think they have in the way of carbon assets but haven’t been able to tap into because there was formerly no standard method in place for measurement or monetization of these assets,” says Steven Apfelbaum, who leads The Earth Partners Science Team and is Chairman and Founder of Applied Ecological Services.


“Under VCS, the method is primarily applicable to agricultural projects. Truth be told, we’ve used the exact same method with simply a different soil sampling instrument to work in other project types including wetlands and peatlands. We’re looking at adding additional modules including those for peat and biochar, and see great versatility in this method going forward.”


Ecosystem Marketplace will be doing a deep-dive into the methodology in an article early next week, so stay tuned!


These and other stories from the voluntary carbon marketplace are summarized below, so keep reading! Note that we are still  fundraising  for the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2013 report, slated for publication at Carbon Expo 2013 – if we are able to raise sufficient contributions to continue this research. This report – which is freely available thanks exclusively to sponsors’ support –remains a key benchmark for the market. To learn more about sponsoring next year’s report,  click here  for our prospectus and contact  Molly Peters-Stanley  for details.


—The Editors

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

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

David, Goliath, and the orangutans

The Rimba Raya REDD Project, the world’s first project to develop and navigate a REDD methodology through the VCS methodology review/approval process back in 2010, is on again – one year after being put on ice when Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry promised half the project’s territory to PT Best Group, a palm oil company. That decision has now been reversed, and the project is set to preserve an orangutan habitat the size of Singapore, generating millions of dollars in carbon income for local communities along the way. Validated under VCS and CCB Standard, Rimba Raya is the world’s first REDD project on deep peat.  “Rimba Raya represents the hope and future of an entire species,” says Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, the founder of the Orangutan Foundation International. “Once the Minister signs the decree, Rimba Raya will be one of the most important orangutan conservation projects in the world.”

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article
   – Read more from The Economist


Gold Standard and Fairtrade for small producers

In Doha, the Gold Standard announced a groundbreaking new initiative with Fairtrade, under which the Gold Standard will pull Fairtrade principles into its carbon projects across all project types, whether energy or land-based. For the Gold Standard, Fairtrade’s global network of small producers represents an opportunity to scale up emissions reductions in marginalized communities and the “last miles” of the world. For Fairtrade, the alliance provides small producers in developing countries a chance to tap into carbon finance as an additional source of income to support their productive activities. An Ecosystem Marketplace article explores the implications of the alliance, with special insights from Carlos Vargas, coordinator for Fairtrade Latin America and the Caribbean.

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article
   – Read press release


ALM matters

Last week, VCS approved a new soil carbon quantification methodology developed by The Earth Partners, the first VCS methodology to cover all eligible activities in the Agricultural Land Management (ALM) category. The methodology credits emission reductions and removals from projects that improve soils in grasslands, rangelands and farmlands. Projects may implement a wide range of activities such as limiting erosion, changing grazing practices and implementing treatments designed to improve the diversity and productivity of plant communities. VCS, The Earth Partners, Environmental Services and SCS Global Services will host a webinar on December 18.

   – Read press release
   – Register for webinar


CCB tags along closely

Last week, VCS and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) announced key new provisions that will make it easier to develop and register agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) projects using both standards simultaneously. Projects that complete this streamlined process are termed VCS+CCB projects. Until now, projects seeking to tag VCU credits with the CCB label have had to go through CCB separately. Now, VCS and CCB have developed a single set of templates to navigate both approval processes at the same time, potentially cutting down the approval process by months and reducing transaction costs. A webinar describing the streamlined VCS+CCB process will be held on December 11.

   – Read press release
   – Register for the webinar


Taking trucking lightly

Pallets – the supportive structures that support goods during freight transport – shouldn’t be taken lightly, or should they? A new VCS-approved methodology on transport energy efficiency, developed by Axios Mobile Assets Corporation with the support of PE International and Five Winds Strategic Consulting, credits companies that switch to lightweight pallets, which weigh up to 25% less than regular pallets and can significantly cut GHG emissions through reduced fuel use. Projects may apply the methodology if project vehicles are part of a vehicle fleet. The lightweight pallets must each have a unique ID for tracking across delivery routes.

   – Read program announcement
   – Read methodology


Colombia’s collective certification
Led by Anthrotect and its project partner, the COCOMASUR landholder association, the 13,465-acre Choco-Darien Conservation Corridor REDD+ Project in Colombia was recently validated and verified by Det Norske Veritas to VCS, projected to avoid emissions of over 2.8 MtCO2e over its 30-year project life. The project is reportedly the first VCS-approved REDD+ project to address unplanned deforestation in South America. The project has also received CCB Gold validation, engaging Afro-Colombian communities to enhance natural resource management in the biodiverse Choco region. Community actors are expected to receive at minimum 50% of revenues from the sale of carbon credits.



   – Read more


Hog waste finds redemption


The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association recently awarded Duke University, Google, Loyd Ray Farms and Duke Energy the 2012 Award for Business Innovation in recognition of their waste-to-energy system that converts hog waste into electricity and creates carbon offsets – meeting environmental performance standards that could outshine current waste management practices. The state chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies also recognized the project, awarding the Henry A Stikes Grand Conceptor award to the engineering firm that worked with Duke on the project.  By directing GHGs from hog waste to power a turbine, the waste-to-energy system prevents the release of 5,000 MtCO2e per year. Energy from the system also creates up to 500 MWh a year.


   – Read more about awards
   – Read more about Duke-Google deal


LifeStraw’s nexus approach to project finance

Vestergaard Frandsen’s LifeStraw programme, the first safe-water project to generate Gold Standard voluntary emissions reductions, has earned 1.4M credits so far. Apart from bringing clean water to over four million people in Western Province, Kenya, the $30M project has stimulated talks around the merit of the suppressed demand approach and the role of leveraging carbon finance for development goals. The average price of credits has fallen to 10% of what it was when LifeStraw launched in 2011. VF’s Alison Hill says the price decline hurts project viability but also pushes development agencies and other donors to rethink the way they structure donor aid and share risk. VF is in discussions on potential dual financing, which could result in other donors focusing on the project’s health-related impacts.

   – Read more


Climate North America

State of the art, under scrutiny


Last month, California’s Air Resources Board launched the world’s second-largest cap-and-trade scheme. The inaugural auction of GHG permits raised almost $300 million with emitters paying $10.09/tCO2 for the right to emit in 2013. While this was lower than the predicted price of $11.75-$12.50/tCO2, the auction enjoyed a high volume of bids overall, unsullied by any issues with the electronic trading system or market manipulation. Energy policy experts said lawmakers in Washington are watching California’s experiment closely, but it could take half to a full year to know its effects on the economy. Experts say California’s scheme will unlikely spur a federal program in the short run, but its performance could influence other states – as well as longer-term prospects for federal carbon control.


In the background, White House spokesman Jay Carney said mid-November that while work on climate is in the cards, the White House has no intention of proposing a carbon tax during Obama’s second term. Late last month, Obama exempted US airlines from the EU ETS.


   – Read more about auction from Reuters
   – Read more about auction from Environmental Leader
   – Read more about rejection of federal carbon tax


Boulderites put their money where their mouths are

The 100,000 or so people who live in Boulder, Colorado have always been a green bunch. Earlier last month, 82% of those participating in a referendum decided to keep the city’s landmark carbon tax for another five years.  Proposed in 2006, Boulder’s Climate Action Plan became the nation’s first municipality-level carbon tax. Aiming to achieve emissions reduction targets in line with the Kyoto Protocol, the CAP allows the Boulder government to tax electricity consumption, and use those proceeds to offset carbon emissions through the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. While carbon controls stall at the federal level, city mayor Matt Appelbaum hopes that Boulder’s example will encourage other cities to push similar emissions reduction measures.

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article


Kyoto & Beyond

REDD+ sidelined in dispute over verification

The once-promising REDD text is stuck at the Doha climate talks, after passing from the scientific negotiating track to the long-term action track with key provisions unresolved after Norway vetoed a last-minute compromise that Papua New Guinea had brokered between Brazil and the United States. At issue is the amount of verification that should be required for recipient countries’ emissions reductions if donor countries are to continue their REDD funding commitments. Norway said that in order for donor countries to continue providing REDD funding, international verification is needed as a quality control measure to ensure that emissions reductions claims are real and permanent.

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article
   – Read update from Carbon Finance


Global Policy Update

The greatest launch since Sputnik?

Kazakhstan is the first country in the Commonwealth of Independent States – a regional group of former Soviet Union members – to push to establish a national emissions trading system. The scheme, set to launch on January 1, 2013, will apply to all businesses that emit over 20,000 tCO2e annually, in line with the country’s emissions reduction target of 15% by 2020 and 25% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. At present, businesses covering 80% of the country’s total emissions will be liable under the ETS. A Point Carbon led consortium is helping advise Kazakhstan  –  as well as Ukraine, which is planning to launch an ETS in 2015  –  on ETS design and how to craft linkages to other schemes like the EU ETS and emerging Asia-Pacific schemes.

   – Read more about Kazakh scheme
   – Read more about potential linkages


Vietnam takes vanguard stance

Vietnam is poised to become the latest Asian country to launch a national carbon trading scheme. Prime Minister Tan Dung approved plans last week for a national carbon market, intended to underpin Vietnam’s plan to slash GHG emissions by 10% by 2020 against 2010 levels. The scheme, likely modeled on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, covers all six GHGs and figures into the government’s broader National Strategy on Green Growth – the first national green growth strategy passed by any developing country, approved back in September. Point Carbon says talks are underway to link Vietnam’s scheme with Japan’s proposed carbon market, with a deal likely to be signed early next year. Other linkages could follow with proposed schemes in China and South Korea.

   – Read more


Durban deliberates over offsets

While South Africa will be ineligible to trade CERs through the EU Emissions Trading Scheme after 2012 given the new ban on CERs from non LDCs, it can still develop CDM projects with other countries and use other market mechanisms. Domestically, carbon offset provisions have yet to be finalized under the national carbon tax, which is slated to launch next year. In the first discussion paper released by South Africa’s Treasury on the proposed tax, 10-20% of carbon offsets could be claimed as tax exemptions if the offset price were below the tax rate, proposed at R120/tCO2e (US$13.70) emitted. A carbon trade expert said in Doha that industry in South Africa should fight for 100% tax exemption for carbon offsets under the upcoming national tax in order to bolster generation of tax credits.

   – Read more about SA’s access to markets
   – Read more about tax exemptions


Zambia’s sleeping giant

It’s been a while since media first generated rumblings around the Africa Carbon Credit Exchange (ACCE), formerly scheduled to launch back in June 2010. To be based in Lusaka, Zambia with brokerage offices across Africa, the exchange was envisioned to unlock low-carbon Africa by providing a trading platform for voluntary and compliance carbon credits supplied on the continent. A new article says the exchange could finally launch trading activities next year. ACCE’s CEO Sabera Khan notes that the exchange is currently finalizing the exchange’s “structures and systems,” but still depends on Parliament approving a pending commodities and exchange bill before it can register with Zambia’s Securities and Exchange Commission.

   – Read more from Zambia Daily Mail
   – Read 2012 ACCE presentation


Carbon Finance

Demystifying REDD in the DRC

A new Ecosystem Marketplace article investigates REDD+ finance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, focusing on the capacity of the Congo Basin Forest Fund – a fund administered by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the UN – to deliver on its funding commitments to pilot projects like the EcoMakala REDD+ project. In the background,  the DRC launched its national REDD+ strategy this week, just weeks after insurgents surrounded and stormed the capital of the country’s North Kivu province.  This article is the sixth in a continuing series built on the findings of Forest Trends’ REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project, which aims to provide transparency by tracking REDD+ commitments to 13 countries around the world.

   – Read Ecosystem Marketplace article


Featured Jobs

Carbon Program Intern – Ecosystem Marketplace

Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking an unpaid part-time intern for our Carbon Program, with an ideal start time of January 2013 for a four- to six-month commitment. In return for this commitment, the intern will receive invaluable contacts and experience in liaising with international conservation NGOs, for profits and development multilaterals; executing survey research for an international market report; helping to plan/execute an international report launch event; and recommendations as merited. Candidates should be an upper-level undergrad or grad student, preferably able to commute to a Washington, DC office.

   – Read more about the position here


Program Officer – Verified Carbon Standard

Based in Washington, DC, the officer will support the various stakeholders of the VCS Program, including project and methodology developers, validation/verification bodies and registries. Specific tasks will include managing proposed methodologies through the VCS approval process, and staying abreast of developments in the carbon market through market research and conference attendance.

   – Read more about the position here


Global Climate Change Adaptation Specialist – World Wildlife Fund

Based in Guatemala City, Guatemala or San Salvador, El Salvador, the specialist will manage the strategic objectives of the USAID funded Sustainable Landscapes and Adaptations Program in Central America, providing technical leadership and support for adaptation-related activities, overseeing the management of sub-award contracts and relationships with key partners. Candidates should have a Master’s in an environmentally related field, ideally 10+ years’ relevant international work experience, and fluency in English and Spanish.

   – Read more about the position here


Carbon Advisor – Promethium Carbon


Promethium Carbon is looking for a Carbon Advisor, to be based out of Gauteng, South Africa. Candidates should have a technical university degree (engineering or BSc) with 2+ years’ work experience – ideally in clean and renewable energy, the CDM or GHG emission reduction projects. Promethium also creates one training position per year for qualified professionals without work experience.


   – Read more about the position here


Director of Projects – Crichton Carbon Centre


Based in Dumfries, Scotland, the director will be responsible for developing and delivering projects, working with a wide variety of stakeholders, as well as contributing to the Centre’s post-graduate teaching programmes in applied carbon management and professional practice in sustainability. Candidates should have experience in delivering projects that have been successful in creating positive environmental outcomes and contributing to the sustainable development agenda, with knowledge in one or more of carbon management, energy efficiency, water footprinting or waste management.


   – Read more about the position here


Senior Environmental Manager – MGM Innova


Based in Miami, Medellin or Mexico City, the manager will provide support for project work throughout Latin America, responsible for managing and developing emission reduction projects, low emission development strategies, emission baseline studies, sustainability planning, GHG inventories, NAMAs, carbon neutrality strategies, carbon lifecycle analysis, energy efficiency projects and water footprinting among others. Candidates should have an advanced grad degree (MSc at minimum) related to environmental sciences with 10+ years’ experience in consulting or industry, and be proficient in English and Spanish.


   – Read more about the position here


Business Development Manager – Carbon Disclosure Project

Basd in Berlin, the manager will develop and execute a strategic plan to implement CDP requests and criteria into major corporate supply chains by engaging large corporations in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) as members of the CDP Supply Chain Program, where CDP helps manage and analyze the climate change and natural resource strategies of their suppliers. Candidates should be native German speakers with fluency in English, 5 years’ experience in procurement and/or supply chain at large companies, and ideally 2+ years of direct responsibility for a procurement budget.

   – Read more about the position here


Sales Interns (2) – The CarbonNeutral Company


Based in Kings Cross, London, the two interns will conduct research on industry/market segments and businesses, providing competitive landscape reviews, collection of proof points, among other tasks. Candidates are expected to commit to working five days a week for three months, starting January 3, 2013.


   – Read more about the position here


CDM Analysts (2) – ecosur afrique


There are openings for two CDM Analysts, one in Kinshasa, DRC, and the other in Ebene, Mauritius. Each analyst would be responsible for identifying new CDM opportunities, assessing the eligibility and potential of projects under the CDM, elaborating PINs and PDDs, undertaking validation processes with DOEs, following up on projects through UNFCCC registration, and undertaking verification and monitoring processes. Candidates should have relevant experience in PDD drafting and be fluent in French/English.


   – Read more about the position here


Energy and Environmental Commodities Broker – Karbone


Based in New York, the broker will structure and execute bilateral contracts for all classes of energy and environmental commodities around North America (carbon credits and emissions permits among others), and establish and manage relationships with market participants. Candidates should have a relevant undergraduate and/or graduate degree and 2+ years’ experience in brokerage or other sales experience, ideally in related markets.


   – Read more about the position here


NextGen Broker, Environmental Derivatives – Evolution Markets

Based in London, the broker will primarily support and develop new business related to the mature European emissions markets in Europe (EU ETS, Kyoto, and voluntary) – developing relationships with clients, analyzing and generating analysis on related markets, facilitate day-to-day operation within the London office, and work to develop new businesses for the office and bring those initiatives to commercial fruition. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s in economics, math, or engineering (MA preferred) and 2-3 years’ experience in a sales/client-facing role.

   – Read more about the position here


Marketing Intern – NativeEnergy

Based in Vermont, the intern will assist with PR activities, develop and execute social media campaigns, write blogs and other content, conduct market research, help plan and organize events, and assist with other marketing-related activities as needed. Candidates should be advanced undergrad or grad students pursuing a degree in communications, marketing, journalism, environmental studies, or related fields.

   – Additional resources

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