V-Carbon News: Last Call for Surveys!

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program is wrapping up its collection process for this year’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and Forest Carbon Markets reports – but not without one final call for responses.  More information on the surveys and the latest news from around the world of voluntary carbon can be found in this edition of V-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.

1 March 2011 | Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program is wrapping up its collection process for this year’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and Forest Carbon Markets reports – but not without one final call for responses.

If you were engaged in developing or selling carbon offsets to voluntary buyers in 2010, this week is your last chance to contribute to the most widely-read, referenced and comprehensive market analysis of its kind in the voluntary carbon market. Respond to the survey by March 4th, 2011, or contact us to request an extension.

What’s in it for you? Respondents that provide us with price or volume data from 2010 will receive a free electronic copy of the report upon its publication. You can also opt to be listed in the report directory, as well as Ecosystem Marketplace’s and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s online directories/catalogs of offset providers.

Why is your response so important to us? The more data we collect on offset prices, volumes, project types, locations and other variables, the more accurate our final analysis will be – analysis that in turn affects business decisions in the global voluntary carbon markets throughout the year.

How can you feel confident that your data is safe? All price and volume data is aggregated in the report under variables like “global market share by project type / location / standard / etc.” Prices are presented as a volume-weighted average, and we never report findings for which we have fewer than three data points. If you have questions about confidentiality, contact us – we’re happy to walk you through our methodology.

How can your organization take a bigger role in the report process? If your organization or company wants to spread the word about its presence in the voluntary carbon markets, report sponsorship is a great platform for reaching international readers/buyers. Benefits range from prominent report logos to a seat on the report launch panel.

Of course, if report sponsorship is not an option for your organization, consider helping us continue to provide free and regular market reporting via products like this news brief – become a Supporting Subscriber. For a suggested donation of US$150/year, this sponsor type is listed in this bi-weekly news brief with a link to their website for one year from the date of donation. That’s US$6.25 per issue to reach out to inboxes worldwide. Help keep V-Carbon free – donate here.
—The Editors

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

V-Carbon News

Voluntary Carbon

The Euronext generation: NYSE Blue

NYSE Euronext recently announced the completion of its joint venture with APX Inc., creating NYSE Blue – a new global company with a focus on environmental and sustainable energy markets, whose services will include trading platforms, environmental registry services, markets reference data and the BlueNext spot emissions platform. The deal saw NYSE Euronext contribute its ownership in BlueNext in exchange for a majority share in the new company, while APX shareholders will retain a minority stake in NYSE Blue in return for their shares in APX. “We are excited to move forward as NYSE Blue,” stated Brian Storms, new Chairman and CEO of NYSE Blue. “Bringing together APX’s expertise in market infrastructure and BlueNext’s proven exchange allows NYSE Blue to effectively provide global environmental market offerings.”

   – Read the press release
   – Read more from Reuters


The carbon market red carpet

The results are in from Environmental Finance’s annual survey of the voluntary carbon markets – revealing a growing interest in carbon offsetting as the economic outlook brightens. There were a few upsets this year, with publicity-shy Vitol winning the Best Trading Company category and JP Morgan – which dominated last year’s survey – hardly on the radar. South Pole Carbon Asset Management replaced EcoSecurities as Best Project Developer, while The CarbonNeutral Company overtook ClimateCare as Best Offset Retailer. “Last year was a tough one in the voluntary carbon markets, in common with wider environmental trading,” said Mark Nicholls, editor of Environmental Finance. “But winners in our survey report a pick-up in interest and activity, as the economic clouds begin to lift and as North American participants ready themselves for a carbon market in California.”

   – Read more from Carbon Finance


VCS pops its GreenCollar

Continuing its AFOLU streak, the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) recently approved yet another forestry methodology under the VCS program: Methodology for Improved Forest Management: Conversion from Logged to Protected Forest. Developed by GreenCollar Climate Solutions, it is the first VCS methodology to employ Improved Forest Management (IFM) practices to protect forest areas threatened by commercial logging – also known as Logged to Protected Forests (LtPF). “This approach offers an important new way to raise financing for the protection of potentially huge swathes of vulnerable forest,” said VCS CEO David Antonioli. The VCS has also accepted a new methodology revision for assessment. Revision to VMD0007 Estimation of baseline carbon stock changes and greenhouse gas emissions from unplanned deforestation (BL-UP) will be open to public comment until 11 March.

   – Read more about the methodology
   – Read the press release
   – Read more about the methodology revision


ICROA challenges voluntary market to step it up

UN climate talks are on hiatus until April, but sub-national initiatives like California’s AB 32 are full steam ahead. So are multilateral initiatives like the one linking California to states in Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Mexico – and all because the voluntary carbon market has shown us what works and what doesn’t. It will continue to play this critical role for years to come, says Caroline Spencer, Secretariat for the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) – a not-for-profit alliance of carbon reduction and offset providers. In this blog post, Spencer explores what lies ahead for the voluntary carbon market as a hotbed for controversy, corporate leadership and innovation.

   – Read the Ecosystem Marketplace article


Carbon Friendly takes a krakow at Polish VERs

Carbon Friendly Solutions Inc.’s wholly-owned subsidiary CO2 Reduction Poland Sp z.o.o has expanded its Warmian-Masurian Poland Afforestation Offset Project and is preparing for the validation and verification of an estimated 1,243,000 VERs. The project area – increased from approximately 933 to 4000 ha – was afforested through cooperative action between the company and private landowners. The VERs generated will be validated and verified to the International Standard Organization’s (ISO) 14064-2 standards and possibly the Community, Climate and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. “We are pleased with the progress in the expansion of our high-standard forestry offset project,” said Carbon Friendly’s President, Stan Lis. “We are currently in the process of selecting a third-party auditor and are excited to submit our Project Design Document for validation by the end of this month.”

   – Read the press release


Taiwan’s first pei-ment for carbon credits

Taiwan made history last week as two companies signed the nation’s first ever carbon deal. The small but symbolic transaction will see the CTCI Foundation purchase carbon credits equivalent to 194 tCO2 from CHC Resources Corp., Taiwan’s largest Portland blast furnace slag cement and slag powder manufacturer. The allowances – which will be purchased at US$19 per ton – will help CTCI offset its 2009 carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. “Our goal is to protect the environment,” said an unnamed CTCI Foundation official. “Carbon trading is a hot issue in the world right now and many industries are looking for ways to neutralize the carbon dioxide they let out in hopes of making Earth a better place to live.”

   – Read more from Taiwan Today
   – Read more from eco-business.com


E+Co’s A+ for clean cookstoves

Ghana-based Toyola Energy is using energy-efficient cookstoves to reduce the health risks caused by traditional indoor models – thanks in part to carbon finance. E+Co – which helps entrepreneurs to establish clean energy businesses – invested $270,000 in Toyola’s vision, and in 2009 the company’s project became the second cookstove project to be certified by the Gold Standard Foundation. Toyola has already sold 51,230 tCO2 to Goldman Sachs, and E+Co’s carbon finance manager Erik Wurster doesn’t see the investment going up in smoke. “This is driven mostly by consumer sentiment, which we don’t see drying up just because the Kyoto Protocol might expire,” he said. “We have an agreement with Goldman through 2012, and are now discussing with buyers to commit through 2016.”

   – Read the National Geographic article


Big rigs put the brakes on fuel consumption

Big rig drivers in Prince George, British Columbia (BC) are gearing up to become participants in the province’s emerging carbon market. A pilot project launched last week will see trucking companies team up with the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative to generate carbon offsets through reduced fuel consumption. Using on-board computers, fuel use will be tracked and compared to a baseline. Savings will be translated into carbon offsets and supplied to the Pacific Carbon Trust – the crown corporation established to drive the growth of BC’s low-carbon economy. “We know reducing fuel consumption will save money for truck and heavy equipment owners and operators,” said Pacific Carbon Trust CEO Scott MacDonald. “The Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative has found an innovative way to translate these savings into a viable carbon offset project.”

   – Read the press release
   – Read more from BC Local News
   – Read more from HQ Prince George


Wagenplan revs up for VERs

We announced in our last newsletter that Dutch car lease company Wagenplan was gearing up to buy VERs to offset the kilometers driven by its clients in 2010. Well, the race is now over – with 27,000 VCS issued VERs from renewable energy projects sold to Wagenplan last week at a price of €1.40. As in previous years, the company chose to contract Climex as its auction platform. “Wagenplan was very satisfied with the outcome and process of the previous auctions and today again the auction proved to be a very efficient purchasing channel to acquire VERs with little effort on both the buyer and seller side,” explained Wagenplan CEO Wijnand Akkerman.

   – Read the press release


Blue carbon seeking green

Scientists were feeling blue last week as an international effort to protect coastal wetlands through carbon finance was kicked off in Paris. Although the concept – known as ‘blue carbon’ – has the potential to protect some of the world’s most endangered wetlands, it faces some significant hurdles. Not only do they not know just how much carbon is stored in global wetlands, it’s also unclear how much their destruction contributes to global emissions. Stephen Crooks, climate change programme manager at the environmental consultancy ESA PWA, estimates that emissions from drained mangroves and salt marshes contribute to roughly 1–2% of global emissions. He acknowledges, however, that “the error bars are 100%.” Nevertheless, additional research and pilot carbon credit projects are slated to begin this year.

   – Read more from Nature News


Reduce & Retire: The Latest on Carbon Neutral

Race to the Finnish line for municipalities

Five Finnish municipalities have offered up their services as climate guinea pigs, voluntarily committing themselves to reducing emissions by 80 percent from 2007 levels by 2020 – well beyond the reductions mandated by the EU. Launched in 2008, the Finnish Carbon Neutral Municipalities project (CANEMU) is already being hailed by many as a success, with municipalities implementing over 70 measures to increase energy efficiency and environmental investments – and an additional 60 measures planned for the future.  “We feel that we have to make example municipalities, that we can say hey, let’s make the impossible, possible,” said project leader Jyri Seppí¤lí¤, from the Finnish Environment Institute.  

   – Read more from Deutsche Welle
   – Read more from Greenfudge.org


New Yorkers take a bite out emissions

Feeling guilty about all of those cupcakes you consumed on Valentine’s Day? Next time, try shopping at New York’s Little Cupcake Bakeshop – where you can shed at least one layer of guilt with their carbon neutral treats. The operation – committed to social responsibility and being “green” – uses equipment from certified procurers of green materials and products, energy efficient lighting and non-toxic materials where possible. Any carbon emissions that can’t be neutralized through everyday operations are offset through donations to support the non-profit Carbon Fund’s tree-planting initiatives. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal!

   – Read more about Little Cupcake Bakeshop
   – Read more from the Huffington Post


Skaters get stoked for reforestation

Skater-owned footwear and apparel company etnies recently announced its new ‘Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree’ initiative to contribute to the recovery and preservation of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forests. Etnies CEO Pierre-Andre Senizergues traveled to the country in 2007 to learn about its reforestation initiative and aim to become carbon neutral by 2021, and decided to set a similar goal for etnies to go carbon neutral by 2020. Working with Costa Rica’s La Reserva Forest Foundation, etnies plans to plant a tree in Costa Rica’s Meleku reserve for every pair of Jameson 2 Eco shoes sold. Etnies athletes Benji Weatherly, CJ Kanuha, Chris Del Moro and Ryan Sheckler will travel to Costa Rica in mid-March for the first tree planting ceremony.

   – Read more from ESPN


Climate North America

Golden State’s price is right for emissions reductions


California may offer the world’s best chance at effective carbon pricing – at least according to a recent report released by Thomson Reuters. The report predicts the price of the state’s emissions permits will start at US$13 per tCO2, rising to about US$75 by the end of the first phase in 2020 – and leaving the EU-ETS’ languishing carbon prices in its dust. California’s predicted sharp rise in prices is attributed to the scheme’s soft start in 2012, followed by a tightening of the emissions cap and predicted shortage of offsets in later years. Climate Action Reserve offsets (CRTs) currently eligible under the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently traded at US$8.75-9.25, according to Finite Carbon. Interest in guaranteed ARB offsets remains relatively unchanged between US$10.50-12.00, while allowance bids and offers have stayed near US$14.00-14.75.


   – Read more from Carbon Positive
   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read the report


States DIY carbon trading

If you want carbon trading done right, do it yourself! At least that’s what a recent working paper from the World Resources Institute and Columbia University Climate Law Center seems to suggest. The EPA announced last year that it will propose technology-based New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for GHGs from power plants and oil refineries by the end of 2012 – and the working paper suggests that states might develop their own cap-and-trade programs as part of their implementation plan. “Because Congress expressly allowed states to take into account the remaining useful life of existing sources when devising their plans for regulating existing sources, it may be argued that Congress intended … regulation to incorporate greater flexibility than the one-size-fits-all approach” of facility-specific limits, the paper says.

   – Read more from Argus Media
   – Read more from Argus Media


Governor likely to hamper New Hampshire’s RGGI pullout

A bill that would end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) advanced in the Republican-led House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 246-104. Supporters of the move claim that RGGI is a hidden tax that – according to bill HB 519 – has “increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel and food.” But many environmentalists and business leaders argue that the bill would forfeit over $60 million in energy savings. In a letter to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee – which on February 16 voted along party lines to withdraw from RGGI – Governor John Lynch said the move “would be a blow to our economy and to our state’s efforts to become more energy efficient and energy independent.” New Jersey legislators introduced a similar bill in Fall 2010, but have yet to vote on it.

   – Read more from Bloomberg
   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read more from Risk.net


GOP spending plan shows climate no mercy

A spending plan laid out by republicans in the House of Representatives has put climate funding on the chopping block in an effort to cut US$61 billion from the budget – and may lead to a government shutdown by March 4 if a deal can’t be reached. The plan would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by nearly a third, while preventing it from using funds for GHG regulations. Driven largely by Tea Party candidates, the cuts would also impact other agencies working on matters related to climate and energy – and ban funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Although Obama earlier released his budget with less drastic cuts, the 216-page summary fails to mention climate legislation or the term “cap-and-trade.”

   – Read more from ClimateBiz
   – Read more from the Washington Post
   – Read more from the Guardian


Kyoto & Beyond

Everybody play the game

The fate of the world is your hands – or at least the Fate of the World as simulated in tcktcktck’s new online video game aimed at breaking new ground for the climate movement. The game, which can be downloaded for US$10.99 as a charity edition, casts individual players as “players” in the international climate change debate. This involves grappling with rapidly diminishing resources, population pressures and climate impacts, with the option to impose policies like banning logging in the Amazon rainforest or making all Europe’s public transport run on electricity. Players discover the intricacies of decision-making under various scenarios which can – more easily than one would expect – have catastrophic effects.  

   – Visit the Fate of the World game website


EC tightens grip on continental carbon

The European Commission is aiming to tighten oversight of the world’s biggest carbon market, which has recently been plagued by fraud and theft. The commission met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss proposals to “strengthen the integrity” of the market, and will meet with emitters and traders next month to discuss how to handle stolen allowances. Ten of the 30 European registries have been allowed to reopen following the thefts of around US$82.4 million in carbon permits last month, while spot trading on the ICE Futures Europe exchange remains frozen.

   – Read more from Bloomberg
   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read more from Bloomberg


Tapping the power of information…

… to generate carbon credits! China may soon provide data on the power tariffs it pays for renewable energy – a move that would help developers figure out whether projects are eligible to generate carbon credits under the clean development mechanism (CDM). Renewable energy projects are eligible under the CDM if they can demonstrate that they need assistance to be viable. But the CDM executive board currently uses a list of the highest tariffs in a given region or province to determine eligibility – which some say fails to distinguish between richer and poorer regions. According to Martin Hession, chairman of the board, using the highest tariff lists is “a conservative rule,” and the board is now “open to establishing tariff rates on another basis, on a case-by-case basis.”

   – Read more from Bloomberg


Out of many, one?

Not so for three countries that are putting a damper on the European Commission’s dream of a pan-European carbon emissions trading platform. The UK, Germany, Poland and Spain have all refused to join the centralized system – due in part to security concerns raised by last month’s thefts. Although Spain eventually reneged, the other three countries have opted instead to conduct their own national auctions – a move seen by many as a blow to the European Commission. Germany has argued that having multiple national platforms will increase the stability of trade, but others worry that it will add unnecessary costs and make it more difficult to provide a robust price signal.  

   – Read more from Carbonica
   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read more from Bloomberg


Global Policy Update

Gillard makes polluters pay

The Australian government has revealed new plans to put a price on carbon next year in preparation for a trading program beginning as early as 2015. In a statement released last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that a tax will be imposed as of July 1, 2012 – with the yet-to-be set fixed price determined by global markets. “It is the cheapest and fairest way to cut pollution and build a clean energy economy,” Gillard said. “The best way to stop businesses polluting and get them to invest in clean energy is to charge them when they pollute.” Missing from the carbon pricing plans were agricultural emissions, due to accounting measures and mechanisms that Gillard called “simply too complex.”

   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read more from Bloomberg
   – Read more from ABC


China’s provinces think local

Provinces in China have begun to push for local carbon trading platforms ahead of a national plan– but are they jumping the gun? Experts are concerned that provinces might be overestimating the profitability of carbon trading. “They are mistaken if they think these platforms are used to earn profits: meeting the target is the important thing, not making money,” said ZhongXiang Zhang, carbon expert with the East-West Center in Hawaii. China plans to cut carbon intensity by 40-45 percent from 2005 to 2020, and proposals from across the country have flooded into the central planning agency. “I think for now this is quite an experimental period of time and local enthusiasm has been encouraged,” said Changhua Wu, greater China director with the London-based Climate Group.

   – Read more from Times Live
   – Read more from Reuters


REDD under-mined in Peru

Increased mining and other development is threatening Peru’s participation in forest carbon schemes such as REDD – and soaring gold prices aren’t helping. The recent paving of the Interoceanic Highway – running from the Pacific coast to the Brazilian border – has opened up access to the region and its resources. But according to Fernando Leí³n, head of the Environment Ministry office that calculates the value of natural resources, carbon is a valuable component of a basket of environmental services that Peru could eventually market as a conservation incentive. “We can start with what I call ‘gourmet carbon,’ because every molecule of carbon in the Amazon forest is surrounded by biodiversity, other environmental services and living cultures. We need to differentiate those in the market,” says Leí³n.

   – Read more from the Daily Climate


Carbon Finance

Buyer beware the pump and dump

CO2 Tech found itself in hot water last week as the US Department of Justice concluded that it was full of nothing but hot air. The publicly traded company that claimed to sell products and services to fight global warming was involved in a “pump and dump” scheme – a form of stock fraud in which a company’s share price is artificially inflated and then “dumped” for a profit – without having any significant assets or operations. According to an SEC civil complaint filed in Florida, the scheme – perpetrated through Red Sea Management Ltd., a Costa Rican asset protection and offshore investments company – generated over US$7 million in illicit profits between late 2006 and April 2007. Criminal fraud charges have now been filed against six men, including stock promoters and traders.

   – Read more from Forbes
   – Read more from Reuters
   – Read the press release


Green Power Play: Renewable Energy

So green it Hertz

Car rental giant Hertz Corporation is really driving the energy efficiency point home! The company plans to install over 2.3 MW of solar power systems at 16 of its locations across the US in the first phase of its large solar initiative. The first to be completed – a 235 KW system at Denver International Airport – is expected to offset approximately 650,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Hertz – the world’s largest airport general use car rental brand – aims to both reduce its energy costs and offset its emissions through the initiative, which will see the 15 additional facilities completed in 2011.

   – Read the Reuters article


Race for the sun

Developments in Australia are competing for government funding under the A$1.5 billion Solar Flagships program – an initiative that will support the construction of up to four large scale, grid-connected solar power stations using solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies. A decision on the winning projects is expected by the middle of 2011, but one may already be ahead of the game. Fotowatio Renewable Ventures – BP Plc’s partner in a proposed 150 MW solar project in New South Wales – says the project has secured financing from eight banks, including BNP Paribas, Banco Santander SA and National Australia Bank Ltd. If successful, the development may start construction in 2012, and is expected to cost as much as A$900 million over its lifetime. “Australia is a key market,” Javier Huergo, Fotowatio’s head of business development. “Our intention is to have a long-term presence here.”

   – Read the Carbonica article


US sees renewables in a positive light

The future looks bright for solar power – that

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