This Week in V-Carbon: When it rains, it pours

The Ecoystem Marketplace is moving at lightning speed to keep you updated on the latest from Durban – but we haven’t forgotten about news happening all around the world.  Here is the latest voluntary carbon news.

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.

6 December 2011 | While negotiators at the UNFCCC’s 17th Conference of Parties are pre-occupied with posturing and minutia (“what exactly is a forest?”),and the rest of Durban is just, well, occupied, Ecosystem Marketplace is moving at lightning speed to keep you updated on any developments we think would be of interest to readers. Because when it rains, it pours.

Get your daily dose of Durban using the following Ecosystem Marketplace website resources:

Daily Durban Blog: at the close of each day, we’ll post a summary of REDD+, Kyoto Protocol and other developments as we take them in.

Daily Recommended Events: follow each day’s link to find detailed information about the who’s, when’s and where’s of the events we’ll be covering, attending – or wish we were atteding.

Daily Summary: a daily compilation of all our Durban coverage –including blogs, articles and additional commentary as relevant.

Ecosystem Marketplace website: check back periodically for exclusive articles and analysis, or look through our current content for a primer on the lead up to Durban and recommended REDD reads.

Complementing our COP17 coverage, a new paper from Ecosystem Marketplace explores carbon offset programs in Europe – and how a decision to extend the Kyoto Protocol (or not) could have big implications for the region’s tiny offset supply.

Durban also marks an important deadline for raising sufficient funds to publish the “State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report again in 2012”. To do so, we must find 9 more donors to contribute US$3,000 apiece – by the end of COP17.

Help us keep this valuable information available to market participants, researchers, decision-makers, investors and others – and join our growing coalition of supporters that now also includes the American Carbon Registry,   Camco, the CarbonNeutral Company, Forest Carbon Group, myclimate, the Santiago Climate Exchange, South Pole Carbon Assets Management and Terra Global Capital.

For more information about how to contribute, contact Molly Peters-Stanley and visit our fundraising page.  

—The Editors

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

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

Your handy Durban event guide

We’ve had emails pouring in from colleagues and listservs telling us about all the great events going on. But you can only go to so many and it isn’t always easy to decide. The Ecosystem Marketplace team has put together a handy guide to the side events that we’ll be attending or covering, or just find compelling. Meanwhile, Chris Lang of REDD-Monitor has put together a list of REDD-related side events at COP 17.

See EM’s list of side-events here
See REDD Monitor’s list

Old World, new offset opportunities?
Voluntary carbon credits – made for reducing CO2 in countries without existing “caps” on carbon, but Europeans like them too. And European corporates increasingly seek to invest in local projects, which are not always kosher under the current Kyoto Protocol framework. This paper from Ecosystem Marketplace explores existing programs’ limited options and creative approaches to domestic carbon reductions – and how Durban could change everything. Voluntary offset projects that were once taboo under the market’s strict rules on “double counting” could soon be a legitimate means to reduce forest carbon emissions if the region doesn’t top up for another round of Kyoto-based emissions trading. How is the the voluntary market preparing for this scenario? What about those projects that are still be covered by an EU ETS cap? Answers to these questions and more in this special report.

Read about and download the new report

Gold Standard updates all about Africa
Before the Gold Standard heads south to Durban, they’ve already looked to the Global South for some important standard updates. The modifications include broadening access to carbon finance from projects in conflict zones and refugee camps – where risk averse DOE’s can audit from their desk while an Objective Observer (NGO) visits the site. Other modifications aim to reduce transaction costs for small but high-impact projects, including a new scheme allowing their programmatic approach (PoAs) to be used on micro-scale activities. In addition, new features include a tool to help project developers check eligibility for Gold Standard certification, a new grievance mechanism to facilitate collaboration between project owners and local stakeholders and an extension to document submission for GS validation.

Read the Gold Standard’s press release

Australia’s carbon law prompts tree planting

The recent passage of Australia’s Clean Energy Act means that many companies will be coming under compliance in the program in 2012. Ahead of the program’s launch date, domestic utility Origin Energy will exercise $30 million worth of options under a 2009 deal with project developer Carbon Conscious that will ultimately deliver $190 million worth of credits from tree plantings. Under the deal, Carbon Conscious will plant 10 million native Mallee eucalyptus trees. Carbon Conscious’ previous notable project was providing carbon offsets for a sailing competition in Perth, also achieved through the planting of Mallee eucalyptus. The Origin announcement didn’t have a positive effect on Carbon Conscious’ share price, which fell five cents. Read about the deal here

Read about the deal
Read the 2009 deal press release

China takes steps forward in the voluntary forest carbon market

China’s voluntary standard, the Panda Standard, has released a new AFOLU methodology for afforestation and reforestation on degraded land using bamboo – the first – and long awaited – such methodology that could deliver VERs from bamboo on degraded lands and a boon to project developers in China . The standard was unveiled at Copenhagen in 2009 and has been making slow but steady progress since, with an announcement on the first forward sale of VERs in March this year from a bamboo forestry project using an early version of this methodology in Yunnan province. In addition to the new methodology, which is open for public comment until December 7, the Panda Standard rolled out its updated web page. Meanwhile, China continues to unveil pilot carbon trading programs across the country’s provinces. The Huadong Forestry Exchange was unveiled earlier this month, but details were sparse. Now an article from CNTV states that around 50 companies will engage the voluntary program, which was developed by the China Green Carbon Foundation.

Read about the new AFOLU methodology
Read about the Huadong Forestry Exchange

Société gives Solvay keys to Orbeo

Partners Solvay and Société Générale are parting ways on emissions trading – with their 50/50 Orbeo carbon trading venture caught in the middle. French bank Société Générale decided to sell its 50 percent stake in Orbeo – which engages in both compliance and voluntary carbon market activities – for an undisclosed amount to partner Solvay. Solvay does not anticipate layoffs and has resolved to retain the Orbeo brand. The transaction depends on Orbeo becoming “de-regulated” by the French financial regulator, Autorité de Contrí´le Prudentiel – meaning it will no longer be a market maker on the BlueNext exchange but will retain its membership. It also means ORBEO will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rhodia Energy, itself a subsidiary of Solvay. A SocGen spokesperson says Orbeo will remain a key actor in the CDM.

Read about the split
See Orbeo’s press release

Voluntary carbon companies make CDM watch list

Current compliance market challenges in the EU could also have far reaching impacts for voluntary carbon companies, as well – after all, in many cases they’re one and the same. Reuters recently published a list of companies derived from the UNEP Risoe database of CDM projects that shows CDM project developers’ portfolios and intended credit generation through 2020. At least a handful of these companies also make the list of companies providing data for the State of the Voluntary Carbon markets reports in recent years. It is unclear what volume of these credits are exposed to the record plunge in prices that resulted from panic selling, and more long term troubles of record credit issuance with no clear demand signals beyond the Kyoto Protocol’s 2012 expiry.

See the list of companies
Read about the the Financial Post’s take

CODE REDD invites the private sector to invest in trees

Wildlife Works, a socially responsible clothing line, has announced the launch of CODE REDD, a campaign to encourage the private sector to invest in REDD+ projects. The campaign is targeted at corporations with corporate social responsibility programs and interests in lowering or offsetting their carbon emissions. ”The goal of the CODE REDD Campaign is to dramatically increase the demand for REDD project carbon offsets now. With increased demand, REDD can scale to overcome the massive threat to the world’s forests and make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change,” said Mike Korchinsky, Founder and CEO of Wildlife Works. Private sector organizations can join the campaign by making a specific pledge to buy VCS and CCB validated REDD credits supplied by vetted project developers.

Read about CODE REDD here

BBY sets up shop for Australia’s carbon program

Australian stockbroking and financial advisory house BBY has set up a carbon trading desk to assist Australian and international companies meet their compliance obligations under the recently passed Clean Energy Future legislation. The desk will be trading credits in New Zealand and European ETS’s, and will cover all carbon asset classes globally. They’ll have some time to get their feet wet in the initial limited market from 2012 to 2015. In 2015, the program enters a ‘flexible price scheme phase’, where the use of offsets to meet obligations will be expanded.

Read about BBY here

Reduce & Retire: The Latest on Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutral Pineros, por favor

Though COP this year is in Durban instead of Mexico, we still have pina coladas on the mind from last year. One healthy serving of carbon-neutral pineapple coming right up! In Costa Rica, five producers and exporters of pineapple have sponsored a program to decrease their carbon emissions until reaching neutrality. They’ll do so by utilizing a framework developed by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet) and the National Chamber of Producers and Exporters of Pineapple (Canapep). The first phase of the program will consist of measuring the CO2 emissions emitted by consumption of fossil fuels and determining the forest’s ability to capture CO2. Later, these companies will install biodigesters fueled by crop residue to produce heat and electricity for the pineapple fertilization process .

Read about carbon neutral pineapples here

Car rental company links up with Gold Standard

Avis Rent-a-Car have been in the carbon offset game for a long time, working with the CarbonNeutral Company as far back as 1998 has joined up with the CarbonNeutral Company to generate carbon offsets through a project that would teach communities to use a new cooking method that uses less coal than the traditional one. That translates into less carbon emissions, reduced health impacts from coal smoke, and money saved. The project methodology from NOVA , a South African NGO, was developed in 2010, and is certified under the Gold Standard.

Read more about Avis and the Gold Standard here

Computing in a carbon free cloud

Those cloud (computing providers) are looking brighter these days. UK-based cloud computing provider, Skyscape, has been awarded CarbonNeutral Company certification for having achieved a net zero carbon footprint. Skyscape achieved carbon neutrality through a combination of energy-reduction efforts, which included investments in energy-efficient infrastructure, investments in energy-reducing modifications to existing infrastructure, initiatives to reduce travel-related emissions, initiatives to reduce waste streams, and requirements for supply-chain partners to act environmentally responsible. Furthermore, Skyscape is working with The CarbonNeutral Company to develop ways for its clients to offset their own carbon emissions associated with cloud computing. Skyscape is the first cloud services provider of its type to achieve carbon neutrality.

Read about Skyscape’s efforts

Climate North America

US states down and out of WCI

Six US states have pulled off a disappearing act – pulling out the Western Climate Initiative. Admittedly, the disappearance of New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah from WCI is not shocking news. Given the current political make-up of those states, ”there was little to no hope that they’d get involved in a regional cap-and-trade program,” said Jeff King, head of environmental markets at Scotia Capital. The remaining WCI members now consist of California and four Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Moving forward, the states that left WCI will participate in a new national program called the America 2050 Initiative, which has a wider range of options for emission reductions techniques but is unlikely to employ emissions trading.

Read about the State’s withdrawal
And read more from Platts

Kyoto & Beyond

EUAs and CERs dip low

With no real price floor to stop their descent, carbon prices in Europe are dipping lower and lower. EUAs reached EU7.80, with an analyst musing that prices could reach as low as EU3 before demand for the cheap credits nudges it higher. Another analyst said it would take a deep EU recession to push prices below EU6. Regardless of that future scenario, the current economic crisis in Europe is pushing down prices, as lower economic output means less demand for the credits. An oversupply of credits, 212 million tons according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance model, will do nothing to help prices moving forward. CERs weren’t fairing much better, trading at EU5.99 on November 23.

Read about the EUs carbon prices woes
Read about the perfect storm for low EUAs
Read about the CER price decline

JP Morgan Departure heralds exodus

One loss after another, as JP Morgan scales back its environmental markets program with the resignation of Ollie Knudsen, managing director for environmental markets and former head of the World Bank’s Carbon Fund. Earlier this year JP Morgan lost project developer Climate Care in a buyback by the company, who were brought under JP Morgan under a 2008 deal. The lack of progress on carbon legislation in the US, combined with dampened expectations from international markets, led to a bleak outlook for the investment bank’s foray into environmental markets. And JP Morgan isn’t the only one – UBS shut its climate-change advisory practice earlier this year.

Read about Ollie’s departure

The price report heard round the world

Swiss bank UBS recently issued a report concluding that the EU ETS was high cost and low impact – and sent carbon prices into a deeper downward spiral as it cautioned clients about a likely crash in the CO2 price in 2012. UBS reports that the EU ETS has so far cost European consumers USD $287 billion for what it says amounts to almost zero impact on cutting carbon emissions. It further concluded that if the ETS cost of EUR 210 billion had instead been spent retrofitting or replacing the region’s dirtiest power plants, emissions could have been measurably reduced – by 43 percent in the same period according to its estimate.

Read about the UBS report

Global Policy Update

‘Tree Credit Certificates’ out of India

Maharashtra State in India is planning a local carbon credit scheme, creatively called ‘Tree Credits’, based on sandalwood plantations. Under the program farmers would have to plant and grow a tree for at least five years to be issued a ‘Tree Credit Certificate’, which can then be sold to vehicle owners and and factories, who will apparently be under compliance. Officials are waiting for the State Cabinet and Legislative Assembly to approve the plan before moving forward.

Read more about Indian ‘Tree Credits’ here

Science & Technology

Keeping food – and methane – out of landfills

It is always great news when a municipality exceeds its greenhouse gas reduction targets. All the better when the GHG reductions are achieved by using a cute little composting bucket with a funny name (cue the aptly named Rot Pot). In British Columbia, the District of Mission is one of 179 municipalities that signed the Climate Action Charter, which has a mandate of carbon neutrality by 2012. In Mission, GHG emissions are expected to drop to 500 tons by 2012 – an 80% reduction – mainly as a result of an expected 3,300 tons of organic waste being diverted from landfills (Thank you, Rot Pot!) Though Mission isn’t directly reducing it’s GHG emissions, it is preventing the formation of methane in landfills, which creates a carbon offset equivalent to a reduction. How do you like them (rotten) apples!

Read more about Rot Pots here

Ocean farming – good for the environment and our stomachs?
Scientists and environmentalists have teamed up with ocean farmers to develop innovative models for small-scale ocean farming. Unlike the more common giant fish farms, these small-scale farms generate sustainable sources of food, and in some cases they actually improve the environment in a variety of ways. Seaweed farms, for example, clear the ocean of carbon dioxide – seaweed absorbs five times for carbon-dioxide than do land-based plants – while also serving as the nutrient-rich wrappings for our sushi. Oyster farms, which filter nitrogen out of the water column, are another example of such a farm with dual environmental and gastronomical benefits.

Read more about ocean farming here

Featured Jobs

Carbon & Environmental Services Consultant – DNV

Carry out and manage verifications and advisory projects of Corporate Footprint/Product footprint and manage GHG emission reduction verification projects under voluntary schemes

Read more about the position here

Communications Officer – Global Witness

Based in London, provide communications expertise, input and direct delivery of Global Witness’s Environmental Governance campaign and engage civil society partners.

Read more about the position here

Graduate Student Researcher – Impact Carbon

A 1 year part time position supporting the implementation of three joint randomized controlled trials for a large USAID-funded program on measuring the effects of various marketing and behavioral change techniques on the acquisition and correct use of improved stoves.

Read more about the position here

Head of GHG Verification Services – DNV

Provide technical expertise for the quality of the validation/verification deliverables and maintain and develop relationships with regulators (ARB), registries (CAR, VCS, ACR, etc) and accreditation entities business development focused on the voluntary market in North America and the new California cap and trade system

Read more about the position here

Sustainability & Carbon Sales Manager – Janikin Rooke

Work in the sales function of our client’s Energy services division. The candidate will be responsible for establishing and building successful and profitable relationships with large companies at board level in the sector of carbon management and sustainability.

Investment Manager – CDC Climat

The position will consist of originating, structuring and executing investment opportunities in the primary CDM markets, as well as negotiating ERPAs and investing in primary CDM projects.

Read more about the position here

Additional resources

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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].