This Week In V-Carbon: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts EM’s Survey Launch

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

Ecosystem Marketplace’s annual carbon markets survey launched this week and will be available through March 4, which is also the groundhog’s timeline for cold winter weather. That’s a shorter time frame than in previous years but in order to provide a greater range of reports throughout the year, the carbon team has condensed data collection periods.

13 February 2015 | Crowds bundled up last week to see the United States’ most famous diviner: Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog tasked with predicting the onset of spring. Legend has it that this weather-hog can tell if there will be an early spring depending on whether Phil sees his own shadow. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be in for another six weeks of cold weather, according to Phil’s prediction.
Though he didn’t know it (…or did he?), Phil also forecast the new timeline of Ecosystem Marketplace’s annual carbon markets survey. Unlike previous years, we are condensing our survey timeframe through March 4, 2015 to provide a greater range of reports throughout the year.

The shorter data collection period will allow us to produce more reports, including a new report specially focused on exploring the North American carbon markets. Contingent on receiving sufficient data, we’ll break down North American demand for carbon offsets in 2014 according to price, project type, voluntary versus compliance, and by state or province. We’ll also look forward to project how future policy developments such as the expansion of California’s program to include new sectors will affect demand. And of course, Ecosystem Marketplace plans to publish its annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report.
And as Ecosystem Marketplace looks towards our 10th birthday in 2015, we’re launching “Gen A”  our code name for the next generation of our initiative. Since 2010, our specialized web portals,, and (tracking expenditures to avoid deforestation) have been viewed by over 1 million unique users. Gen A will bring it all together. We imagine a new, GIS-based decision support tool that overlays our data on forests, cookstoves, biodiversity and water markets in a way that will allow project developers and funders to query investable opportunities.


But this critical, thought-provoking work will only be possible with the financial support of our loyal and eager audiences. Sponsors benefit from exposure logo placement on reports that are downloaded tens of thousands of times and shout-outs in this news brief as well as further insight into our findings through tailored briefings. And that’s not to mention influence: Ecosystem Marketplace’s reports have been cited in the development of emerging carbon pricing programs from South Africa to South Korea, and supporting our research is a good opportunity to influence these discussions. To sponsor one of these exciting Ecosystem Marketplace products, contact Gloria Gonzalez.


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


The Editors


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I’d rather stand

Code REDD just launched a new initiative, “Stand for Trees,” that aims to target a different buyer: individuals. While REDD projects have traditionally focused on corporate buyers such as Disney and Microsoft, the new site will utilize social media and crowd-funding to tell the stories of individual REDD projects and their charismatic co-benefits. Individuals can buy as little as half a tonne, or $10 an offset, and project developers benefit from higher payouts than they might receive on the wholesale market. For now, the site only lists dual-certified Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance offsets.

Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here

Separating disbanding from disinterest

In an opinion piece, Pungky Widiaryanto of Indonesia’s State Ministry of National Development Planning argues that Indonesia’s recent disbanding of the country’s REDD+ Agency may lead to more effective implementation. The REDD+ Agency was formed with the expectation that it would reach across ministries to consolidate funding and coordinate efforts to move REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) progress along. In practice, it received unclear authority and little recognition from other government ministries. President Jokowi’s move to integrate this ad hoc agency followed his decisions to merge the Environment and Forestry Ministries into one.

Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace here


No one party here

With no centralized rules, China’s pilot emissions trading schemes have resulted in a variety of offset regulations and prices. This became most apparent with the launch of the nation’s carbon offset registry in January, which allowed Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs) to be transferred across the seven pilots for the first time. The only two markets with final offset rules, Beijing and Shanghai, have banned CCERs generated prior to 2013 (essentially 99.5% of all issued), and spot deliveries in China’s capital were as high as 25-30 yuan. Forward contracts in most other pilots ranged from 5-20 yuan. But the pilots do all have one thing in common: China just issued standardized guidelines for measuring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by major industrials.

Read more from Reuters here
Read more from Reuters here

Getting an A for effort

A three-year research project just concluded that South Africa is ready for carbon trading. The project, led by climate advisory firm Prometheum Carbon in cooperation with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), examined the suitability of existing financing mechanisms for the proposed market. In late 2014, the JSE demonstrated how its existing commodities registry could be used for carbon, with several South African companies including Nedbank and Sanlam, the Backsberg Wine Estate and the Cape Town Marathon purchasing offsets from the Climate Neutral Group and others. While this was only a pilot trade, South Africa plans to launch its carbon tax (with option for offsets) by 2016.

Read more here

The UK understands the cloud

Skyscrape Cloud Services, a company that provides cloud services to the United Kingdom’s (UK) public sector, has teamed up with The CarbonNeutral Company to offset its client’s emissions. The initiative stems from the 2011 Government’s Greening Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy, which set out goals to reduce environmental impact and increase sustainability for ICT programs by 2015. Skyscrape customers will now receive a carbon offset certificate each month that can be used to demonstrate they are meeting their government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. The carbon offsets are validated by both the VCS and the Clean Development Mechanism.

Read more here

Golden opportunities in the golden state

Offset demand is continuing to grow in 2015 in California’s cap-and-trade program despite the Air Resources Board’s (ARB) invalidation of nearly 89,000 offsets last year, according to brokers. However, the controversial invalidation measure served as a sharp reminder for buyers that the ARB can rescind non-compliant offsets for up to eight years after issuance. One exception is the “golden” California carbon offsets, which have protection against invalidation, and traders have reported seeing more activity with those offsets. Demand for offsets is expected to rise throughout the year, as California has begun including fuel and natural gas suppliers in its program.

Read more here

Farming on the edge

Farmers Edge, a big-data farm management company, will put its data to sustainable use with its new multi-million dollar deal with Alberta-based coal and gas operator Capital Power. By integrating its new Nitrous Oxide Emissions Reductions Protocols into its on-farm data collection tools, the company will be able to track nitrous oxide emissions reductions. Any reductions will be sold to Capital Power as offsets, which the coal company can use under Alberta’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program. The program allows regulated entities that do not meet mandatory emissions reduction targets to pay $15 per tonne or buy offsets to meet their compliance obligations. Alberta officials are currently deciding the fate of the program, but increasing the $15 levy does not appear to be in the cards.

Read more from Winnipeg Free Press here
Read more from Bloomberg here


If it walks like a duck…it could be an offset

The United States Department of Agriculture is again calling for carbon offset project proposals through its Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program. Since its establishment in 2004, CIG has funded nearly 900 projects with over $206 million, including part of theDucks Unlimited’s Avoided Grassland Conversion methodology. This year, the program has up to $20 million available for grants, with approximately half of the money earmarked for projects that engage farmers or ranchers specifically. Pre-proposals are accepted through February 24.

Read more here

In forests we trust

The city of Astoria, Oregon agreed to partner with The Climate Trust to reduce its timber harvest. The Climate Trust, a non-profit designed to help Oregon power plants meet the state’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions law, will sell the resulting carbon offsets to those utilities. In return, the city is set to receive an estimated $358,750 in carbon offsets this year and $130,000 annually thereafter. The monetary difference stems from reducing based on the city’s existing inventory versus the following years’ growth.

Read more here


Tracking hot air

NASA scientists have revealed a new prototype sounder designed to measure methane. The instrument was inspired by the Soundar Lidar, which collects around-the-clock CO2 measurements. The lead scientist, Haris Riris, helped with the carbon instrument and now set his sights on a similar instrument for the more potent greenhouse gas: methane. Though the NASA team is still testing, it hopes the instrument will eventually be flown on missions such as NASA’s Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days and Seasons (ASCENDS). While some satellites can currently track methane, none provide 24-hour coverage at all latitudes.

Read more here

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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].

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