This Week In V-Carbon: China Searches For Answers To Pollution Problem

Ecosystem Marketplace

China looms large as it launches six jurisdictional emission trading systems and makes plans for a national carbon market in 2016. Meanwhile, the Rio summer Olympics plan to be carbon neutral and scientists flex their vocabulary.

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


6 November 2014 | The 30,000 runners competing in Beijing’s 26-mile marathon last month had to contend not only with each other, but the severe pollution that plagues the city. China’s government is attempting to deal with the pollution problem, first by launching seven pilot emissions trading systems (ETS) for carbon emissions, and following with a national market planned for 2016.

Beijing and six other jurisdictions launched pilot carbon trading systems within the last 18 months, with the city of Qingdao set to join the mix in 2015. China’s pilot programs combined already constitute the second largest carbon market after the granddaddy of trading schemes the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, according to a World Bank analysis.
However, the anticipated national carbon market in China would regulate 40% of the country’s economy, making it by far the largest in the world, by covering roughly 3-4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide up to 2020 and worth up to $65 billion if fully implemented. China’s national regulator drafted legislation to serve as the backbone of the national ETS, but the legislation lacks key details such as how to set emissions caps for major polluters and how many allowances they will receive under the program. A final version of the legislation is expected to go to China’s cabinet for approval this month.
China’s pilot markets have experienced challenges in their short lifetimes. Local governments, for example, had to go through significant effort to ensure full compliance with the programs, sometimes at the expense of their environmental integrity, according to a Resources for the Future (RFF) study. Strengthening the legal and administrative foundations was at the top of the list of recommendations RFF made to solidify the carbon trading pilots ahead of the planned national ETS.
The stakes are high because a successful national program in China, which is now responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, could trigger more widespread adoption and possible linkage of national and subnational carbon markets across the globe.
“This is still a work in progress a real experiment,” Barbara Finamore, Senior Attorney and Asia Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, said during a Climate Action Reserve webinar. “Of course (China is) the big kahuna. If China is able to succeed…it will set a standard that others will follow.”
Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report will have much more information about the emerging compliance markets in China and the rest of the world. And we’re mining lots of interesting new information this year, including a closer look at buyer motivations and activities, and robust data on the co-benefits of forest carbon programs, from employment to endangered species protection.
More news from the voluntary carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!We are currently in report-writing mode to bring you this year’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets report. We’re $37.5k away from being able to publish this year’s report in a few weeks’ time. Can we count on your support? Please take a look at the sponsorship prospectus and contact Molly Peters-Stanley or Allie Goldstein with any interest.

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V-Carbon News


Reaching for the rings

Organizers of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil plan to offset the entire 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) estimated to be generated by the event. Dow Chemical has once again been selected as the official carbon partner, after previously helping ensure the carbon neutrality of the Sochi Winter Olympics. The company will offset two million tCO2e and the Rio government will be responsible for the remainder. The partners plan to invest in domestic carbon projects addressing afforestation, energy efficiency and restoration in the Atlantic Forest. Emissions associated with the event primarily result from operations, venue construction, city infrastructure, travel and accommodations.

Read more here

Can you float me some offsets? 

Ship owners are reaping the financial benefits from a carbon offset methodology launched earlier this year. Two companies have applied an advanced coating to the hulls of 17 of their ships generating offsets valued at nearly $500,000. The new coating from Intersleek prevents marine life from attaching to the vessels and a methodology developed with the Gold Standard accounts for the emissions reductions gained from increased fuel efficiency. Another 50 of the 100 ships that have applied the coating are expected to earn offsets under the methodology by year’s end. In total, the offsets are potentially worth $2.8 million.

Read more here

The blue devil is in the details

Duke University is using carbon offsets to help it achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2024. Investments in on-campus emissions reductions have already enabled the university to meet its target of lowering GHG emissions 21% below 2007 levels by 2015. To meet the overall goal, Duke home of the Blue Devils sports teams expects to purchase about 185,000 tCO2e offsets annually in 2024. Current offset investments by the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI) include a methane waste-to-energy project and residential energy efficiency. It is also exploring forest carbon sequestration and land conservation projects. DCOI also enables individuals, events and departments to offset their personal emissions through these projects at a rate of $10/tonne.

Read more from Duke Chronicle here

College blitz

Chevrolet announced six new university participants last month in its Campus Clean Energy campaign during Campus Sustainability Day. Chevrolet will fund energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy projects and green buildings at Portland State University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Boston University and Rochester Institute of Technology. The financing comes from the sale of offsets developed under a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) methodology. In total, Chevy is supporting 12 campuses across the United States and has exceeded its original purchase commitment of 500,000 offsets.

Read more here

Going the distance

Since 1999, the Climate Trust, a non-profit organization that manages funds from utilities complying with the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard, has administered nearly three million tCO2e in carbon offset reductions. Since many of its earliest projects predated the registries currently available in the marketplace, the Climate Trust adapted its monitoring and evaluation plans from the United National Clean Development Mechanism. One such project is Oregon State University’s cogeneration plant, which is expected to reduce 339,000 tCO2e emissions over the course of its operation.

Read more here


A liquid gas diet

The British Columbia government announced new environmental benchmarks for liquid natural gas (LNG) export facilities, which will help the province meet its GHG emissions targets. All cooling facilities must meet the .16 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) tonnes per tonne of LNG produced, either through improved design or clean electricity. Those that can’t have the option to use three flexibility mechanisms: carbon offsets, payments into a technology fund or credits from facilities that operate under the .16 benchmark. Leading LNG facilities currently emit between .18-.27 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of LNG. In 2013, British Columbia’s public sector purchased 696,295 offset tonnes at $25/tonne in support of carbon neutrality goals.

Read more from BC Energy Blog here
Read more from Market Wired here

Down under meets in the middle

The Australian government reached a compromise with independent and some opposition party senators for its proposed AUD$2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, which will replace the repealed carbon pricing program. The government agreed to implement a “safeguard mechanism” to ensure company compliance – with specific penalties to be decided later – and to launch a review of climate policies in other major-emitting nations. The Climate Change Authority, initially doomed to be abolished, will carry out the review. While the deal will create regulatory certainty for emitters, the analysis firm Reputex estimates the fund will only meet 20-30% of Australia’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. However, the Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the target would be met.

Read more here

A reluctant union

The European Union (EU) committed to a new set of goals to reduce carbon emissions by 2030, including decreasing emissions 40% below 1990 levels. However, the agreement received criticism for lacking the bold ambition of the EU’s 2020 reduction goals. A target of generating 27% of the EU’s energy through renewable energy will only be voluntary. Another criticism stems from special side deals used to appease EU members reliant on fossil fuels such as Poland. The country’s prime minister threatened to veto any deal that increased Polish coal prices. Instead, Poland can continue to provide free allocations of carbon permits to its coal plants and will receive $2.3 billion in subsidies for power sector upgrades.

Read more here

A tribe called Yurok

The Yurok Tribe of California has had its way of life repeatedly threatened by land seizures and disruption of natural ecosystems. But the Yurok people are now tapping into the state’s carbon offset program to help preserve their culture and livelihoods. The tribe worked with offset developer and financier New Forests to preserve almost 8,000 acres of forestland and sequester more than 800,000 tCO2e. This offset-generating project provided significant revenues, helped fund land management and restoration activities on additional tribal land, and created jobs within the Yurok community, said Environmental Defense Fund’s Katie Hsia-Kiung.

Read more here

Now on sale: carbon

Some utilities regulated by California’s carbon cap-and-trade program have found a way to reduce their compliance obligations: hanging a for sale sign. Southern California Edison recently sold its stake in the Four Corners Generating Station in New Mexico, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Western U.S, meaning the power that the utility once delivered to California now goes to a different utility’s customers in Arizona. “California does not have the power to regulate what happens outside of the state,” said Gary Stern, director of regulatory policy at Edison. “When we sold Four Corners, we were no longer responsible for the emissions of that plant.” California relies on out-of-state power plants for nearly a third of its electricity.

Read more here

Jersey boys

New Jersey legislators are working overtime to prevent Governor Chris Christie’s administration from adopting rules that will keep the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for good. Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Northeast carbon trading program at the end of 2011 because of what he called the program’s ineffectiveness and supposedly high costs. He twice vetoed legislation directing the state to rejoin the program. The resolutions adopted by the state Senate and the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee last week would not get New Jersey back into RGGI, but would block Christie’s administration from making it difficult for future administrations to rejoin.

Read more here


Packing on the pounds and dollars

Inching closer to its $150 million target goal, the Althelia Climate Fund just received a $5 million investment from the Packard Foundation, a non-profit investing in conservation and environmental sustainability initiatives. The investment helps increase Althelia’s funding to about $117 million ahead of a planned December closing. Althelia made headlines in May when it received a loan guarantee worth up to $133.8 million from the US Agency for International Development to lend to forest conservation and sustainable land use projects in developing countries. In September, the fund announced it would make a $12 million investment over seven years to finance conservation of 570,000 hectares in Madre de Dios, Peru.

Read more here


Keepin it simple

The VCS revised its Jurisdictional Nested REDD (JNR) requirements to ensure jurisdictions can align their JNR programs with the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund, simplifying the process for JNR programs to access the Carbon Fund. Additionally, a JNR Monitoring Report template and several JNR representations were released to provide more functionality for governments looking to use the JNR framework.

Read more here


In no uncertain terms

Climate change will present “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts,” according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Which for scientists, conservative by nature, falls just short of announcing that climate change will produce a zombie apocalypse plus random beheadings plus Ebola,” said Bill McKibben, founder of The IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report on climate change released Sunday uses the strongest language to date indicating that governments and businesses need to make unprecedented reductions in their GHG emissions in the near future to avoid even more extreme disruptions.

Read more here
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When in doubt

A new study, Vegetation Dynamics and Rainfall Sensitivity of the Amazon, resolves an ongoing disagreement between ground observations and satellite data in the Amazon by finding that rainfall decreased up to 25% in the southeastern Amazon since 2000. Previous ground observations noted a drying trend, but satellite data – often unclear from copious cloud cover did not provide supporting evidence. The new satellite analysis by lead author Thomas Hilker used improved estimates of surface reflections from satellite data to show that the Amazon declined across 5.4 million square kilometers as a result of rainfall reductions.

Read more here

Featured Jobs

Program Director Dogwood Alliance

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Project Manager – Winrock International

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Project Manager will be responsible for implementing a project aimed at reducing GHG emissions from palm oil and ensuring economic and social welfare benefits for local stakeholders. The project will identify two priority districts as strong candidates for piloting low-carbon approaches to oil palm development by conducting an integrated evaluation combining technical, political and institutional criteria. Successful candidates will have a relevant degree and 10-15 years of relevant work experience, with at least five years of experience in managing multidisciplinary and/or multi-stakeholder projects.

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Climate & Business Outreach Coordinator WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund)

Based in Mexico City, Mexico, the Climate and Business Outreach Coordinator will lead the design and implementation of an engagement strategy intended to encourage businesses to adopt emission reduction targets in line with climate science, in coordination with WWF’s partners. Successful candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a communications, climate, or sustainability field and five years of experience working on corporate social responsibility and/or climate change.

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Carbon Portfolio Manager – Climate Neutral Group

Based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the Carbon Portfolio Manager will manage the Climate Neutral Group’s carbon offset portfolio. This includes defining key carbon offset project procurement criteria, identifying and procuring carbon offset projects, negotiating commercial and legal terms with project vendors, identifying and mitigating delivery and reputational risk factors, structuring financial investments, communicating strategy and results to the management team. Successful candidates will have at least a bachelor’s in business or environmental services and three years of relevant experience in portfolio and/or project management.

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Manager, Policy and Markets – Carbon Trust

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