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From the Editors

Presidents and prime ministers often wait until the eleventh hour to jet into the United Nations climate negotiations, but the Paris talks are already proving to be different, with heads of state from the United States, China, India, Russia, and France, among other countries, swooping in early to set the tone for the 12 days of negotiations.

Big – expected – announcements about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) came on Days 1 and 2.

On Monday November 30, Norway, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) entered into a joint agreement pledging $5 billion to REDD+, an extension of the commitment they made last year through the New York Declaration on Forests. The deal includes new pledges to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund (FCPF) to the tune of $339 million, the REDD Early Movers program (REM) for more than $100 million, and Brazil’s Amazon Fund for continued support “at around current levels,” which have been more than $100 million annually for the last three years.

“This is the most important signal that this COP [Conference of the Parties] can send for forests,” said Steve Schwartzman, the Senior Director of Tropical Forest Policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. “What forests needed here was a real signal that donor countries were going to come up with adequate funding to support countries that are really putting serious programs in place to reduce deforestation and show that it’s working.”

The new pledge, which translates into about $1 billion per year, is a significant addition to the $10 billion in current REDD+ pledges but still far short of the estimated $20 billion a year needed to cut deforestation by 50% globally, explained Gustavo Silva-Chavez, manager of Forest Trends’ REDDX initiative that tracks REDD+ finance flows.

Norway, Germany, and the UK released more detail about the new REM program agreement last Tuesday when German development bank KfW and Norway officially signed an agreement with Colombia, pledging 10.5 million euros (12 million USD) and 400 million NOK (53 million USD) if the tropical forest country successfully reduces deforestation. The UK’s contribution of 30.4 million GBP (48 million USD) was recently approved, and the contract is expected to be signed before the end of the year. REM rewards countries for verified emissions reductions at a value of $5 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), so the new contract translates to payments for up to 20 MtCO2e.

“Rather than supporting countries only in actions that lead to results, finance rewards countries for achieving results and therefore incentivizes and provides resources for more of such actions,” according to the press release about the agreement (emphasis theirs). “The REM Programme has been created as a bridge mechanism to enable countries to earn results-based finance until results-based payments for REDD+ under the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] begin fully operating.”

Previous REM contracts include a $40 million deal with the state of Acre, Brazil in 2012 and a $50 million agreement with Ecuador in 2014. This third agreement with Colombia is the first to include the UK on the donor side and it’s also the first to support efforts towards zero net deforestation, which is Colombia’s goal for its portion of the Amazon. Following decades of armed conflict that displaced millions of Colombians, an emerging peace deal may usher in a new era of development – and an opportunity to channel that development in a way that doesn’t instigate deforestation.

REM, alongside FCPF’s Carbon Fund, the Amazon Fund, the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes, and bilateral deals between governments, are all part of a growing trend towards payments for performance in which finance flows if and when emissions reductions or specific “readiness” objectives are achieved. Development country governments have paid a total of $1.1 billion for REDD+ emissions reductions since 2009, mostly through Brazil’s Amazon Fund, with another $1.2 billion in contracts “in the pipeline” to be signed in the next few years, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Forest Carbon Finance 2015.

The early announcements at COP 21 more than quadruple these “in the pipeline” contracts.

More carbon news is summarized below, so keep reading!



Saving the virtual desktop image

Microsoft recently purchased 35,000 offsets from the Nisqually Carbon Project, located adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. The project’s emissions reductions have been verified under California’s cap-and-trade program, but Microsoft’s offset purchase is voluntary. In 2012, the company committed to offsetting the emissions it could not reduce internally and is now one of the top 10 voluntary offset buyers globally. “It’s only natural that Microsoft would invest in protecting this iconic landscape, since it adorns the desktop of millions of Windows PCs,” said Joe Kane, Executive Director of the Nisqually Land Trust. Microsoft worked with Natural Capital Partners (formerly The Carbon Neutral Company) on the offset purchase.

Preferential treatment

The two co-chairs of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Unilever and Marks & Spencer (M&S) last week announced a new commitment to “preferential sourcing” for commodities, meaning they will first look to states and regions that have a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forests. In order to qualify for preferential sourcing, jurisdictions must also have an established deforestation baseline, a system for measuring and monitoring land-use emissions, a commitment to social and environmental safeguards, and an “ambitious” climate plan. M&S has committed to 100% sustainable sourcing of its raw materials by 2015, while Unilever has set the same deadline for 2020. More CGF members are expected to join the preferential sourcing pledge in coming weeks.


Three’s a party, four’s a crowd

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced that the Canadian province will use emissions trading to meet its goal of reducing emissions one third below 2005 levels by 2030. Manitoba signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quebec and Ontario on December 7 in Paris, solidifying the intent to link the three provinces’ cap-and-trade systems. Quebec’s program is already linked with California’s, and Ontario’s is in development for 2017. Manitoba has not yet announced its timeline for implementing cap-and-trade. Selinger said climate change’s effects are already being felt through major floods and forest fires and a later freeze on the Hudson Bay, which interrupts polar bears’ hunting seasons. However, the province failed to meet a previous emissions target set for 2012.

Presidents and PMs for carbon pricing

Speaking at a press event in Paris on December 1, the heads of state from Canada, Chile, Ethiopia, France, Germany, and Mexico called for carbon pricing policies while sharing their experiences with implementing cap-and-trade or carbon taxes at the subnational or national level. The event marked the official launch of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition as well as the Transformative Carbon Asset Facility, a $500 million initiative launched by Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the World Bank Group that aims to spur carbon pricing initiatives, particularly in developing countries. “This is the right time to set the right price on the true cost of carbon on our planet,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

If at first you don’t succeed

Just weeks after Indonesia submitted its national climate plan to the UNFCCC, which significantly backtracked on REDD+, forest fires erupted across the country, releasing as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as Germany’s fossil fuel use contributes in a year. Now, Indonesia may revise its plan, said Sarwono Kusumaatmaja of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Indonesia has not received any of the payment-for-performance finance associated with its $1 billion deal with Norway, but Per Pharo, Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, said they were still ready to pay if Indonesia successfully reduces deforestation. Payments for emissions reductions were supposed to flow starting in 2014, but the deadline for the “readiness” phase has been extended to June 2016.


Fastest way to the Amazon’s heart

It’s food – specifically beef and soy production – that’s destroying the Amazon. But it’s also food that may save it, according to Jacob Olander, who manages Canopy Bridge, a global network that connects suppliers and buyers of wild-harvested products. He notes that Amazonian cuisine has previously been “invisible” in restaurants in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, but that top chefs in the region are beginning to change that – in turn creating new value for intact rainforest. A few examples: Mitsuhara Tsumura in Peru (Maido), Alex Atala in Brazil (D.O.M.), and Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari in Bolivia (Gustu). “Across Latin America, the redefinition of local gastronomy through the use of Amazonian ingredients is slowly building a following,” Olander writes.

Another premature obituary

Masked gunmen murdered Alfredo Vracko, the son of the president of a reforestation organization in Madre de Dios, Peru, on November 19. Vracko owned a 2,543-hectare reforestation concession that was invaded by illegal loggers, and he was killed soon after he filed an official compliant with the prosecutor’s office. Illicit gold mining is one of the major drivers of deforestation around the Tambopata National Reserve and the Buhuaja-Sonene National Park, where the Althelia Climate Fund has invested $7 million in a REDD+ project that supports a sustainable cocoa cooperative. But Vracko’s murder continues a deadly trend: at least 57 “environmental defenders” have been killed in Peru since 2002, according to Global Witness.


Carbon’s landlords

Indigenous territories of the Amazon Basin, Mesoamerica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia contain one-fifth of the world's forest carbon, which would translate to 168 gigatonnes tCO2e if released into the atmosphere, according to a new Woods Hold Research Center study. That’s more than three times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted globally in 2014, yet these regions often experience intense deforestation pressure. Indigenous leaders gathered in Paris to call on governments to better support them. “We are calling on global negotiators to invest in a solution that exists already. Invest in forest peoples if you are serious about making sure the forest remains standing,” said Joseph Itwongo of Peoples for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa.

Changing the transparency settings

A new working paper by the World Resources Institute finds that details on land-sector accounting and use of market mechanisms are “generally lacking” in the climate plans of the eight major emitters they considered: Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. One key issue that many countries have yet to resolve is whether there will be a limit to the use of market mechanism units, and how double counting will be avoided – for instance, if New Zealand buys an emissions reduction from Mexico, who gets to “count” that reduction? Transparency is the “crucial question that will determine whether a Paris climate change accord has teeth,” The New York Times reports.



Research Associate – Stockholm Environment Institute

Based in Seattle, Washington, the Research Associate will contribute to innovative research projects on emerging topics in climate policy, which could include low-carbon cities, the economics of oil and coal extraction, and carbon pricing. The successful candidate will have a college degree with a strong analytical background and two or more years of work experience.

- Read more about the position here

Country Coordinator and REDD+ Advisor – Winrock International

Based in Vientiane, Laos, the REDD+ advisor will serve as a country coordinator and REDD+ specialist for an anticipated project that provides key support to the Government of Laos in establishing the foundation for a national REDD+ Program,. The successful candidate will offer expertise in REDD+ program development and have a minimum six years of progressively responsible, professional-level experience in managing international development projects.

- Read more about the position here

Program Coordinator – Sustainable Duke

Based in Durham, North Carolina, the Program Coordinator will lead student engagement, manage and develop Sustainable Duke’s education and engagement programs. The coordinator will be responsible for writing, designing and implementing multimedia communications that unite all of Sustainable Duke’s programs, including the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative and the Duke Campus Farm. The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree and demonstrated ability to manage multifaceted programs.

- Read more about the position here

Program Manager – Conservation International

Based in Botswana, the Program and Policy Manager will support the implementation of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa through comparative policy research in relevant fields such as Natural Capital Accounting and REDD+, identifying opportunities for policy improvement and facilitating exchange of experiences among countries. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree and five or more years of experience in policy analysis and program management.

- Read more about the position here

Senior Consultant – Ecofys

Based in either Berlin or Cologne, Germany; London, UK; or Utrecht, Netherlands, the Senior Consultant will be responsible for projects involving the design and implementation of sustainable energy and climate action strategies for corporate clients. Services include energy and climate risk management such as carbon footprinting and internal carbon pricing. The successful candidate will have a university degree from a leading institution and four to seven years of work experience in management or strategy consulting.

- 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 info@ecosystemmarketplace.com. 


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 info@ecosystemmarketplace.com. 

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