This Week in Voluntary Carbon

It’s been a busy week for voluntary carbon, with the Voluntary Carbon Standard issuing its first credits for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting healthy land use, and BNP Paribas inking a $50-million deal to develop projects that protect threatened rainforests and lock carbon in trees.  Both of these developments are in Eastern Africa, but China also delivered a good chunk of news in this weeks V-Carbon Newsletter.

It’s been a busy week for voluntary carbon, with the Voluntary Carbon Standard issuing its first credits for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting healthy land use, and BNP Paribas inking a $50-million deal to develop projects that protect threatened rainforests and lock carbon in trees.   Both of these developments are in Eastern Africa, but China also delivered a good chunk of news in this weeks V-Carbon Newsletter, reprinted below.

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24 September 2010 | Here at Ecosystem Marketplace, scanning Chinese environmental news with Google Translator has become common practice. Why? A recurring acronym in the text – VERs! The market for voluntary emissions reductions (VERs) and voluntary action generally is buzzing as government and other high-ranking officials mull the size and shape of the CO2 trading scheme it’s writing into its next 5-year plan.

From China’s expanding voluntary environmental exchanges and energy intensity scheme pilots to China-specific voluntary carbon standards – including the Panda Standard – change is afoot for Asian voluntary carbon.

Most recently, we tracked down Winrock International’s Chief Technical Officer Nicholas Martin to find out the latest on the Panda Standard’s progress. Martin, who had just returned from a Panda Standard Technical Committee workshop in Beijing, told us that project partners are hard at work on Panda’s AFOLU Standard – sectoral specifications they hope to have in hand in time for Cancun.

Why the focus on AFOLU? Martin says that AFOLU’s perceived link with development dovetails nicely with China’s desire to pair poverty alleviation and carbon emissions reductions (and Winrock’s historic capacity in those areas).

The Panda Standard isn’t the only market mechanism making news in Asia. Also noteworthy was this month’s series of MOUs between coastal opposites California and Shanghai, one of which saw the Shanghai Environment & Energy Exchange and the Pacific Carbon Exchange agree to a business relationship to facilitate China/U.S. green technology and environmental market partnerships.

Also read up on China’s “pilot carbon exchange centers” announced for five provinces and eight cities. While it seems like China is birthing an excessive number of pilots and environment exchanges, the World Wildlife Fund’s director of global climate solutions Dr. Yang Fuqiang recently said that he predicts an eventual merger of exchanges with the strongest two or so left standing.

In another recent interview, Xiong Yan, chairman of the China Beijing Equity Exchange and China Beijing Environment Exchange spoke about what he thinks are two challenges facing the Chinese voluntary market: low domestic demand and a lack of regulations and pricing mechanisms, particularly a national tracking system for voluntary activities.

An important question – and one Ecosystem Marketplace posed to attendees of its June report launch in Beijing – is “why reinvent the wheel with market infrastructure? Aren’t there enough registries and standards available for international users?

A common response was that Chinese project proponents and market participants want mechanisms that reflect China’s national situation – its poverty alleviation objectives coupled with complex geographic disparities in market capacity. Given the nation’s size, environmental challenges and market potential, can you really blame them?

—The Editors

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

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

First VCS forestry credits in the limelight


Just today, the CarbonNeutral Company introduced the first credits from an Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) project to be developed under VCS criteria and issued into the VCS Registry System. That the project is located in Tanzania and also developed to Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA)’s social and biodiversity criteria is significant given Africa’s historically low participation in the voluntary carbon market. Mads Asprem, Founder & Managing Director of the project’s developer Green Resources, says the project imparts “substantial community benefits through the support of local schools, and provision of employment opportunities and infrastructure developments.” Green Resources’ project employs an approved CDM methodology and VCS buffer mechanism to address non-permanence risk. The credits will be exclusively available to CarbonNeutral Company clients.

Read more from The CarbonNeutral Company

Read our own earlier coverage of this project



Climate Leader phase-down following regulatory lead


The US EPA recently announced a decision to significantly reduce the operations of its Climate Leaders program, a voluntary emissions reduction program for companies operating in the US. Since 2002, the program provided recognition, technical assistance, and help setting greenhouse gas reduction goals for over 250 participating companies – and a third-party standard applied to less than 1% of offsets transacted in 2009, according to the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2010 report. The decision comes after the January 2010 approval of the mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule, for which the EPA will now focus its resources. Climate Leaders will encourage its participating companies to transition to other EPA, state, or non-governmental programs.

Read the EPA announcement



GTE Sustainable Energy au Grattan


GTE Sustainable Energy made two big announcements last week as it launched GTE Trading Ltd. in London and brought in veteran carbon market commentator Grattan MacGiffin as Managing Director. Former Head of Voluntary Carbon Markets for broker MF Global, MacGiffin explains to Ecosystem Marketplace that his new division will feature a “core business focus on over-the-counter CER, regional and voluntary carbon, including the US offsets market.” GTE offers cradle-to-retirement management of offset project development, with the end sale and retirement of carbon credits being executed via the new London-based division at both the wholesale and retail levels. Read more about MacGiffin and the new division’s voluntary market intentions in this issue’s sidebar Practitioner Profile.

Read the Reuters article



J.B. Hunt drives CleanSteps for the Chesapeake


Transport services firm J.B. Hunt will drive Washington Gas Energy Services’ (WGES) new Chesapeake Bay focused offsets program, CleanSteps Carbon Offsets, by switching a portion of its freight service from truck to rail to generate carbon credits. When WGES customers renew or begin new natural gas services, WGES and clean energy facilitator Sterling Planet will match a portion to 100% of their natural gas usage with investments in clean energy projects or the new Carbon Reduction Fund administered by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). CBF will utilize the Fund to finance forestry offset projects in the Chesapeake Watershed to improve the Bay’s air and water quality.

Read more about the new program



Axens allies with Orbeo


Two heads are better than one it seems, judging by the recent stream of partnerships and joint ventures in the voluntary carbon market space. Add to the recent development of dynamic duos (see APX + NYSE EuroNext, Marubeni + Cargill) companies Orbeo + Axens, which recently inked an alliance to offer GHG and energy efficiency consulting services to the oil refining and petrochemical industries and pursue emissions reductions projects. Orbeo brings to the table pre-existing engagement in project-to-market credit development for the voluntary and compliance carbon markets, while Axens brings technical expertise in converting oil, coal, natural gas and biomass to clean fuels.

Read more from Orbeo



Indian solar gets with the programme


Another clean energy venture is emerging from Emergent Ventures India (EVI), an India-based carbon services firm with a presence in the voluntary market – most recently via Gold Standard wind projects. EVI recently announced its assembly of a program of activities (POA) for small-scale Indian solar projects, offering assistance with costs of programme design and auditing fees. If needed, EVI will also arrange financing for the projects. Given the nature of the POA, EVI will need to recruit between 30 and 40 projects to break even, with each small project projected to earn around 1,200 CERs per MW annually. So far, EVI has signed up three projects and is courting another 50 – 60 solar project developers.

Read more at Fox Business
Read more about EVI’s Gold Standard wind project



Kolmetz wins at Climate Bridge Ltd.


Sven Kolmetz recently showed his hand at Climate Bridge, the multinational project developer where Kolmetz has taken a position as Project Portfolio Director. Kolmetz will be leaving his post as the head of the Carbon Management Service Unit at verifier Tí¼V Sí¼D. While some are concerned that his exeunt from Tí¼V Sí¼D is the latest example of an ongoing brain drain from verification firms to project development firms, Kolmetz insists that he has “left the department at Tí¼V Sí¼D in excellent condition.” Readers may remember that Climate Bridge also made news in our last issue when Aussie microcap fund Acorn Capital acquired a stake in the company.

Read the BusinessWire article



Clinton, Gold Standard cooking up clean stoves


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t the only one talking up clean cook stoves this week. While Clinton was introducing the new Alliance for Clean Cook stoves (backed by $50 million from the US government) at the Clinton Global Initiative’s New York conference, the Gold Standard Foundation invited stakeholders to comment on a revised version of a cook stove methodology currently under review by the Foundation. Reportedly, the revision aims to streamline the project development cycle to more quickly bring the credits to market. Comments on the revised methodology must be submitted by October 4th to Dr. Meinrad Bí¼rer. Also see the Gold Standard’s latest methodology “for the introduction of an alternative ignition technique as measure to improve the energy efficiency of domestic coal fires” and the revised CFL/LFS methodology.

Read about Clinton’s Initiative
Read about Gold Standard’s cookstove methodology
Read more news from Gold Standard



How much do you value your time?


Ever wonder about the salaries of the energy analyst down the hall, your carbon management consultants or (wink wink) those indispensable voluntary market reporters? Now is your chance to confess the price of your time and discover how much others are making in similar carbon industry jobs, through Carbon Finance’s Carbon Salary Survey. The survey is targeting practitioners in voluntary carbon, carbon finance, climate change strategy, CDM/JI and other carbon-related occupations to track how the climate change job market is developing. All survey participants will receive a copy of the results and are invited to the report launch event. The survey will be available until October 15th, 2010.

Read more about the survey
Take the survey here



That which we call a carbon offset…


The Great Bard who famously asked “What’s in a name?” might not have been interested in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) rumored update of its guidelines for environmental marketing claims – but V-Carbon readers should be. The guidelines, updated for the first time since 1998, will likely address marketing claims related to carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates, as well as other environmental claims. As a result, experts predict a crackdown on greenwashing. After a lull in enforcement and litigation under the Bush Administration, the FTC under Obama’s watch has taken aim at Target and 78 other retailers for misleading labels. So keep an eye out for the FTC to issue its new Green Guide in coming weeks – because emissions reductions by any name had better live up to their environmental claims.

Read more from Lexology



Climex: auctions and rumors of auctions


If it seems like we just announced a large VER auction through Climex, it’s because it’s true – 220,000 Gold Standard VERs were transacted through a Climex auction on September 9th. Climex Director Sascha Bloemhoff recently announced that V-Carbon readers can expect details soon on another Gold Standard VER auction to take place before the end of this year, so keep your ear to the ground and we’ll keep you informed, too, as Climex releases details on the auction’s expected volume and schedule.



Reduce & Retire: The Latest on Carbon Neutral

Beijing’s card-carrying carbon neutral dignitaries


Dignitaries attending Beijing’s 21st Century Forum are now card-carrying carbon offsetters, thanks to the event’s commemorative low-carbon public transport cards. Each card is loaded with CNY20 worth of transport credits and 1 ton of certified carbon emissions reductions. The cards were administered by the Tianjin Climate Exchange (TCX). On TCX’s website, cardholders can enter the transport cards’ serial number to uncover the details of their credits as registered through the exchange. The credits were generated by emissions reductions projects in Hotan, Xinjiang, China, where it’s hoped that the low-emissions cards will confer not only emissions reductions but also poverty alleviation for participating farmers.



Ctrip-ing away airline offset hassles


Who doesn’t enjoy racking up “points” for everyday spending and redeeming them for luxury goods you might not otherwise buy? Chinese travel giant counts carbon offsets among those luxury goods – Ctrip users can now rack up points for airline travel and cash them in to plant trees. The website calculates users’ travel emissions and tells them the number of trees required to “offset” their travel, each sapling worth 500 “seedling” points. When travelers cash in their seedling points, the planting is handled by the China Green Foundation. Though the offset program has been going strong since 2008, Ctrip recently relocated plantings from Mongolia to just outside of Beijing to reduce travel emissions associated with the project itself. As of March 2010, the program had planted 2,000+ trees at its Beijing “Ctrip forest.”



Hot towel? Martini? One ton of CO2e?


It seems new airline carbon offset programs are in the air in Asia. In partnership with the International Air Transport Association, customers of Thai Airways International can now purchase CERs or voluntary carbon credits to offset their flights. The voluntary credits will comply with the Gold Standard or Voluntary Carbon Standard, and the purchasing scheme has been approved by the United Kingdom’s carbon offset quality assurance scheme (QAS). Thai Airways allows customers to make a contribution to offset projects in Thailand, Jordan, Peru, Chile or Brazil. The entire customer contribution will be put toward purchasing these offsets from biogas, landfill methane, fuel switching and other project types.

Read more about the new offsets program



Climate North America

California’s bilateral bourse (of course!)


The US West Coast and Chinese East Coast have the Pacific Ocean in common – and will soon have the Pacific Carbon Exchange’s (PCarbX) resources in common after California and Shanghai signed off on several MOU’s last week. One of the MOU’s spearheaded by California’s Bay Area Council saw the Shanghai Environment & Energy Exchange and the Pacific Carbon Exchange agree to a business relationship to facilitate China/U.S. green technology and environmental market partnerships. According to the announcement, the partnership’s ultimate goal is to “create a bilateral market for CERs between the U.S. and China markets.” The agreement follows PCarbX’s recent introduction of an online trading floor for advance trades among California AB32 and Western Climate Initiative participants.

Read more about the MOUs
Read the latest news at PCarbX



EPA dodges another regulatory bullet


The US Environmental Protection Agency had another close call last Thursday with those who oppose its authority to regulate greenhouse gasses. At last Thursday’s Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the Interior-EPA budget, republicans planned to offer an amendment blocking funding for EPA regulations. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who heads up the subcommittee that drafted the agencies’ spending bills, managed to delay the session in light of a late-night $100 million amendment from the Administration. A new date for the spending bill’s markup has not been set. House appropriators defeated a similar amendment to its Interior-Environment spending bill that would have delayed EPA regulations for two years.

Read more from the NYT
Read more on CQ Politics



Governors renew renewable lobbying


A bi‐partisan coalition of governors representing over half of U.S. states is urging the Senate to pass legislation creating a federal renewable energy standard (RES), most recently in a letter submitted to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition (GWC) argues that a robust RES is “the most economically‐efficient way to advance clean domestic energy and immediately create jobs.” Just this week, perhaps in response to this and other RES lobbying efforts, Sens. Bingaman (D) and Brownback (R) introduced a Senate bill including a RES. The Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Daniel Weiss muses that the mechanism may spur economic growth more than drive carbon reductions – at least in the short run.

Read the governors’ letter (.pdf)
Read more about the RES



CAR to get out the No on Prop 23 vote


How much do you know about California’s Proposition 23 challenge to the AB32 cap and trade program? In a letter to Climate Action Reserve stakeholders, CAR President Gary Gero says the initiative has implications not only for California’s emissions reduction scheme but “will have strong implications for other states and for the nation.” To help bring the carbon community up to snuff on the initiative, CAR will be hosting a webinar to impart its understanding of the facts surrounding California’s ballot challenge. The Special Topics Series webinar will take place on October 21st from 10:00 – 11:00 AM US PDT and interested attendees can sign up online or contact CAR’s Max DuBuisson with questions.

Read more about the webinar here



Global Policy Update

AU: Department of Climate Change sees internal promotion


Following the recent dramatic ouster of Australia’s Prime Minster Kevin Rudd, Australia’s climate policy-driven government turnover has a new victim – Penny Wong, Rudd’s right hand climate administrator. As Australia’s Climate Change Minister under Rudd, Wong presided over the Department of Climate Change through the rise and fall of the PM’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for national emissions trading. She was replaced last week by former coal mining engineer and union leader Greg Combet, who already knows the ropes of Wong’s Department of Climate Change – he was her Assistant Climate Change Minster. Combet’s three pronged goals include promoting a favorable political climate for a carbon price, energy efficiency and continued mandatory renewable energy targets.

Read more from Argus



Climate’s new post-Soviet union?


As climate legislation and negotiations have stalled worldwide, many are looking to regional markets as a stop-gap response, particularly in the United States. Apparently the same is true in the former Soviet states, where Ukraine has suggested forming a regional carbon market with Russia and Kazakhstan – and anyone else who wants to join in, of course. Earlier this month at a seminar in St. Petersburg, the head of Ukraine’s Environment Investments Agency broached the idea, saying that “Such a market will allow for technical upgrading leading to emissions reductions.”

Read more from Bloomberg



Ecuador runs flagship project up the pole


Ecuador is looking for a good (i.e. lucrative?) reason to avoid releasing 400 million tCO2e in Yasuni National Park, one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. The government is promoting the project to avoid exploiting oil deposits in the national park – deposits representing around 846 million barrels of oil. It’s willing to accept half of the value that would be derived from oil sales, around US$3,600 million. That’s a hefty price, but the project has already garnered interest from Germany, Spain, Italy, Peru and Japan. The Ecuadorian Vice President Lenin Moreno will present the project to the UN Assembly on September 27th.

Read more from Cool Earth



Green Power Play: Renewable Energy

BNY Mellon back in v-carbon wading pool


Bank of New York Mellon has been wading in and out of the voluntary carbon markets for a few years, though the most State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report saw severely scaled-back activity. Last week BNY Mellon announced its move from carbon credits to markets for renewable energy credits, offering record keeping, processing and other services to buyers and sellers of renewable energy credits created for U.S. state programs. The bank is courting states with interest in statewide registries for the credits, as well as in the Western Climate Initiative.

Read the Reuters article



The Mafia’s green target


The recent seizure of money from Mafia businessman, Vito Nicastri – the “Lord of the Wind” – has highlighted the issue of Mafia money laundering through renewable energy ventures in Italy. The haul included 43 wind and solar energy companies in Sicily’s western Trapani region. The Mafia has been able to infiltrate the renewable energy sector due to a combination of “bad policies and bad bureaucracies” in the past few years. The less controlled renewable energy sector “allows the creation of new companies, and so the recycling of money” said Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera. Italy is a major player in wind generated power in Europe, ranking third behind Germany and Spain according to Gestore Servizi Energetici, a public company that manages renewal energy incentive programs.

Read more from Yahoo News



Featured Jobs

Voluntary Carbon Standard Program Officer


The VCSA is looking for a dynamic Program Officer to focus on operational and technical aspects of the VCS Program. The Program Officer will play a key role in the Program Team, which is responsible for all operational aspects of the VCS Program and for informing and shaping its strategic direction.

Read more about the position here



Gold Standard Marketing Manager


Reporting to The Gold Standard Foundation’s Marketing & Communications Director and working within a team of three, the Marketing Manager will provide input into the development and implementation of a global marketing and communications strategy for the Gold Standard, including tailored regional plans.

Read more about the position here



Climate Bridge Business Strategy Manager


The Business Strategy Manager works directly with Senior Management to evaluate and prioritize several new business opportunities. The position is Shanghai-based by involves travel to other parts of Asia, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Read more about the position here





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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Carbon Continuum

Reader Survey

This issue reveals the voluntary market’s ever-growing interest in emerging markets and fresh project locations.

What do you think is the hottest emerging market for supply and demand for voluntary carbon credits?

A Asia

B Africa

C Latin America

Results Oriented

In our last issue, we asked readers:

“Carbon credit exchanges are emerging around the globe – for local, regional or global use. Is the voluntary market ready?”

7%: “Yes – the voluntary market is active enough to sustain regular exchange activity”
27%: “Maybe – at the right scale and with the right incentives”
66%: “No – the market is too disaggregated and illiquid to jumpstart exchange activity”

“Voluntary carbon credits are more of a consumer good than a traded commodity. Thus exchanges are not the optimal forum on which to conduct trades,” responded Thomas Marcello from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Pre-compliance credits had the most potential for commoditization but that’s a moot point now.”

Practitioner Profile

Grattan MacGiffin

Managing Director

GTE Global Trading Limited

GTE Sustainable Energy Inc.’s London trading office may be new, but its Managing Director is a familiar name to many voluntary carbon market followers. Grattan MacGiffin recently j

Additional resources

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