This Week In V-Carbon: One Step Forward, One Step…

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

After becoming the first indigenous people in the world to generate REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) offsets, the Paiter-Surui Amazonian tribe is now looking back on its experience. While the tribe agrees that the carbon project has been successful, there is less support for the mechanism to dispense finance. Read this and more below.

29 January 2015 | The Paiter-Surui Amazonian tribe took a historic step in 2013 by becoming the first indigenous people in the world to generate REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) offsets. But now – more than 18 months later – it’s an open question whether the mechanism set up to distribute the revenues generated by carbon offset sales is functioning as it should.

Some Surui leaders
have called for a review of the Surui Fund, a governance apparatus developed to manage the community’s finance. The fund began earning income from the REDD+ project in September 2013 when Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos purchased the first tranche of offsets. Income from that sale was earmarked for institutional strengthening, border control/surveillance and jump-starting economic alternatives to illegal logging. The funding began flowing quickly into the community early in 2014, but reportedly slowed as the year progressed. nbsp;


In response, several village and clan leaders sent a “letter of clarification” to the Federal Public Ministry (Ministério Píºblico Federal) outlining what they saw as flaws in the governing mechanisms designed to handle community finances. They expressed concerns about power being concentrated in the Metareilí¡ Association – reducing the involvement and autonomy of the other clan associations – rather than the participatory, decentralized process envisioned by the fund’s manual.


“We are not questioning the Surui Carbon Project and its partners,” they wrote. “But there is a huge discrepancy between the money that the Surui Fund received and the amount passed on to the associations.”


The signatories also defended the resumption of logging by some families, which they say began in 2012 – three years after they implemented a logging moratorium to support the carbon project and two years before funding from the carbon sales started to flow into the community. They blamed legal and bureaucratic delays for forcing some community members to return to selling wood so their families would not go hungry.


Chief Almir acknowledged the delay, with some funds held up over concerns about how the first tranche was spent. Both he and the fund head will provide a detailed response to the grievances by next week.


More news from the voluntary carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!


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GreenBiz Forum Coming Soon

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Climate Leadership Conference Shortly After

The Climate Leadership Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from February 23rd to 25th. The conference convenes leaders from diverse sectors to explore market transformation and share energy and climate solutions. On the agenda are: a roundtable on transparency in carbon accounting hosted by The Climate Registry; a discussion of California cap and trade hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund; a breakout session on best practices in corporate carbon reduction strategies; and much more. Check out the speaker list here and then go ahead and register. Want 20% off your registration? Contact Allie for Ecosystem Marketplace’s discount code.

Who will be the Lord of the Rings?

China and Kazakhstan are on a quest to become the 2022 Winter Olympics host and both have pledged to host a carbon neutral event as part of their Olympic pitches. Offsets have been used to neutralize the impact since the 2002 games and both countries plan to incorporate offsetting into their neutrality strategies. China said it will set up an ecological corridor and forest belts, contributing more than 70,000 hectares of forest, while Kazakhstan has promised to compensate through reforestation, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The entire footprint of the 2014 Winter Olympics was mitigated prior to the Opening Ceremony, but Sochi’s offsetting success wasn’t matched with sustainable construction or zero waste promises.

Read more here

I do…offset you

A Chinese couple exchanged vows last month in the first-known Gold Standard carbon neutral wedding in China. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to any of their friends or family. Li Zhi, the groom, is an energy expert and VIP member of the China Energy Conservation Association. Several of the attendees were also well-known environmental experts, including the President of Beijing Shenwu Environment and Energy Technology Corp and the head of low-carbon expert group CECA. Approximately 38,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) was offset through purchases from a wind power project and a solar power generation project.

Read more here

Offsetting your carbon emissions: priceless!

With the average American lifestyle producing an estimated 17.6 metric tonnes carbon dioxide, there’s only so much that can be accomplished through reduce, reuse and recycle. Now, for everything else, there’s Mastercard — the biodegradable Sustain:Green Mastercard to be precise. For every dollar in net purchases, Sustain:Green will reduce the user’s carbon footprint by two pounds through retirement of Nike’s carbon offsets on the American Carbon Registry. The shoe company reduced millions of carbon emissions in 2006 when it replaced the sulfur hexafluoride gas in its athletic shoe airbags with nitrogen. Now, when those offsets are retired through the voluntary market, the proceeds go to seed Mata no Peito, a Brazilian coalition that supports local projects to protect and replant forests.

Read more here

Fueling a birthday wish

ClimateCare just celebrated its 18th birthday with the launch of a clean cooking fund in Kenya. The fund, part of a set of services provided to the UK Department for International Development (UKaid), has the lofty goal of creating a new market for ethanol cookstoves throughout Kenya. But first, the project will start small(er) in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi. With UKaid subsidizing the initial cost, the fund then lends money to residents at zero interest, so they can purchase the remainder. Kibera was chosen due to the high number of people using charcoal as their main fuel, which causes both indoor air pollution and high carbon emissions. So far, 800 stoves have been sold.

Read more here

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Emergent Ventures International just announced the issuance of India’s first SOCIALCARBON and Verified Carbon Standard offsets. The project, co-developed with UK-based Carbon Clear, is a small hydro project located in Karnataka state. It has generated 15,000 tonnes in tandem with the international registry APX. Emergent expressed satisfaction with achieving the “first-of-its-kind” project, and believes the project sends a positive message that the voluntary carbon market can still offer niche opportunities.

Read more here


As the carbon world turns

Last week was particularly chaotic in the battle over potential reforms of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. There are two camps: countries who want to address the glut of allowances by 2017, and those who wish to delay action until 2021. A compromise for 2019 action, led by the European Parliament’s largest political group, failed to muster enough votes last Tuesday. Two days later, the pro-industry parliament rejected amendments to begin removing the surplus by 2017 by two votes, and passed a vote to begin in 2021 instead by one. Yet the narrow margin led the committee to reject the entire session’s votes, leaving the earlier date still on the table. Resulting confusion caused the markets to drop 5% to 7.05 Euros.

Read more here

Opening the floodgreat (wall)

China opened the doors to seven million approved offset credits last week, more than doubling the supply from the 6.5 million Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs) approved in December. At the same time, the country also opened its national registry, so CCERs can be transferred to regional exchanges. This means sellers can now place their CCERs directly on the regional exchanges, a move which is expected to contribute to more spot transactions and give a clearer pricing picture. Meanwhile, the regional pilots are continuing to narrow and define the type of accepted offsets, as Shanghai became the second regional pilot to narrow the rules for eligible offsets. Shanghai will only allow offsets generated after January 1, 2013.

Read more from the Business Times here
Read more from the Economic Times here

Offsets off the table

Though at least two states – Georgia and Kentucky – have expressed interest in using carbon offsets from forest projects to meet their obligations under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new carbon regulations for power plants, the EPA probably won’t allow it. “While states have significant flexibility in the development of plans to comply with the rule, their plans must include measures that reduce CO2 emissions from affected sources: power plants,” a statement from the agency said. Though the EPA has paid attention to state or regional-level cap-and-trade programs as a potential mechanism for meeting the regulation, they have specified that states must hit federal targets without the use of offsets.

Read more from E&E Publishing here
Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here

The last frontier awaits

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced it will not make a decision on whether to include Alaskan forestry projects until this summer. Unlike the lower 48 states, Alaska was not originally included in the California’s cap-and-trade program because of a lack of key data, but that information has since become available. Alaska has an estimated 126 million acres of forest land. If a final vote takes place in June or July, Alaskan forestry projects could be eligible by late 2015 or early 2016.

Read more here

Sweet home Carolina

An Improved Forest Management project covering more than 4,000 acres in coastal South Carolina has been issued more than 160,000 compliance-grade carbon offsets under California’s cap-and-trade program – the first project in the Southeast to be issued offsets by California’s ARB. Developed by North Carolina-based Green Assets, the project includes the forestlands of Brookgreen Gardens, a working woodland that includes a famous sculpture garden. “We are proud to be early participants in the new carbon economy,” said Bob Jewell, Brookgreen’s President and CEO. Green Assets is currently developing several forest carbon projects for the California market, including the Middleton Place project in South Carolina.

Read more here


Economies of scale

The Verified Carbon Standard announced changes to its fee structure. These include a sliding scale on the issuance levy for Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) to accommodate emerging jurisdictional governments and projects capable of reducing millions of tonnes of emissions annually. Projects issuing less than one million VCUs will still pay 10 cents per VCU, but those issuing one, two, or four million VCUs at a time will be charged reduced fees. Other changes include a registration fee for new projects (effective July 1, 2015) and changes to the methodology approval process.

Read more here


A view from the bottom

Teaching basic field ecology techniques to Amazonian indigenous groups has revealed carbon storage capacity sometimes 40% higher than satellite estimates. That’s not too surprising, given that any on-the-ground measurements will reveal more detailed findings than something taken from space making wide estimates for swaths of land. The real takeaway from the project is the training given to indigenous people. The science team had to first explain what carbon is and then teach about measuring survey plots. The results could influence how indigenous people manage their forests and engage in carbon offset programs.

Read more here

Featured Jobs

AIME Program Manager Forest Trends

Based in Washington D.C., the Accelerating Inclusion and Mitigating Emissions (AIME) Program Manager will oversee a 5-year, $13 million program that seeks to build capacity of indigenous peoples and other forest-based communities to improve the governance of their territories and forests while designing REDD+ compatible Life Plans. The program operates in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. The Program Manager will be responsible for managing compliance with US Agency for International Development cooperative agreement requirements, providing logistical support for program meetings, and overseeing the program budget.

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Vice President, Forest Carbon Projects Blue Source

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Policy Researcher: Climate Change Mitigation – Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

Based in Seattle, Washington, the Policy Researcher will expand upon SEI’s climate change mitigation research on climate policy with a particular interest in the roles of cities, land use, and fossil fuel supply in mitigating global GHG emissions. Successful candidates will have an advanced degree and work experience in urban GHG abatement, carbon markets and/or climate policy.

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Forest and Climate Change Consultant -“sterreichische Bundesforste AG

Based in Pummergasse, Austria, the Forest and Climate Change Consultant will work with the international consulting department of Austrian Federal Forests to acquire projects, network with partners, and carry out short- and medium-term consultancy missions. The successful candidate will have a university degree in forestry or a related discipline and at least three years of post-graduate work experience. Familiarity with international policy negotiations related to REDD+ is a plus, as are technical skills in conducting terrestrial forest inventories through remote sensing. Read more about the position here

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