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From the Editors

8,000 jobs. 141 protected species. 2.2 million hectares of land ownership secured. These are a few of the impacts that forest carbon initiatives collectively had in 2014, as tracked in our new report, Not So Niche: Co-benefits at the Intersection of Forest Carbon and Sustainable Development.

The report is based on responses to Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2015 survey of forest carbon project developers from around the world, 81 of whom provided details on the multiple benefits of their groundwork. These impacts go beyond the 34.4 million tonnes of forest-based emissions reductions transacted on the carbon markets last year. Project developers often say they could not deliver climate results without also addressing issues such as local economic development, poverty alleviation, and land tenure reform.

“The historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change recognizes the central role of forest protection in keeping global temperature rise in check,” said Michael Jenkins, Founding President and CEO of Forest Trends. “But saving forests without also protecting the 1.6 billion people whose livelihoods depend on them would be like saving museums but throwing out the art.”

However, some of the benefits of forest carbon initiatives are not so easily quantified as jobs or endangered species. For example, 37 projects reported empowering women; 41 benefitted vulnerable or marginalized groups; and 54 contributed to cleaner or more plentiful water – but the metrics used to verify these claims varied. While the carbon markets are in many ways at the forefront of figuring out how to apply results-based finance to non-carbon benefits, they are still at the beginning stages of this effort. The report finds that third-party standards provide frameworks for measuring beyond-carbon results, but often leave the specifics up to project developers.

The demand for co-benefits is there. Over half of project developers said their offset buyers engaged in forest carbon markets because of the multiple impacts of their dollars: at least 10.7 million offsets transacted in 2014 found a buyer primarily because of their beyond-carbon impacts. However, the report also indicates that companies and governments are not necessarily paying more per tonne for offsets with verified co-benefits. Clearer demand signals, both in terms of higher offset prices and more specific buyer “asks” for metrics, could lead to more robust measuring and verifying – and more on-the-ground results.

To learn more about our findings, download the report HERE, or join a webinar presentation tomorrow, Wednesday, March 23rd at 11 a.m. EST. The webinar will provide an overview of the report’s major findings, and we’ll also hear from project developers Taking Root, Wildlife Works, and World Vision about their experiences with delivering and verifying their projects’ multiple impacts. Other project developers are highly encouraged to join the webinar and chime in during the discussion. Register HERE.

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



Singing offsets’ praises

A new carbon offsetting platform targeting individuals launched in Austin, Texas at the music festival South by Southwest. Buzzing around in Priuses, The Cool Effect’s “brand ambassadors” – young people in shirts saying “Earth, We’re Here” – are offering free rides to concert goers in exchange for discussions about carbon offsets. The initiative hopes to spur demand for select carbon offset projects, which have been vetted by Global Offsets Research, an organization that screens projects for what they call “absolute additionality.” Cool Effect worked with an advertising agency to design its highly visual offsetting platform, and it is one of several initiatives that has emerged to sell offsets directly to individuals and small businesses. Another is Stand for Trees.

- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace 


A reservation for two (million) please

In Petén, Guatemala, the GuateCarbón REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) project covers about a third of the massive Maya Biosphere Reserve, the largest uninterrupted tropical forest north of the Amazon. The project is estimated to avoid almost two million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually but is still undergoing validation with the Verified Carbon Standard and has not sold any offsets yet. Instead, the project has recently relied on subsidies from partner organizations and the government. “No one has bought [the offsets] because we don’t have them yet; the process that guarantees them is long and strict, and we haven’t wanted to make any advance commitments,” Sergio Guzmán, the project manager, told Mongabay.

- Read more from Mongabay


Grasping for buyers

A final gasp, or a breath of fresh air? The Clean Development Mechanism’s (CDM) future role post-Paris remains uncertain. While the Paris Agreement made in December included a role for markets in Article 6, it did not clarify whether a new international carbon market would incorporate the CDM’s existing certified emissions reductions. As a result, the CDM’s Executive Board is looking at a range of options for future demand and has shortlisted a number of potential sources. Among them: South Korea’s emissions trading scheme; other existing and planned carbon markets in the European Union, Mexico, and South Africa; non-carbon-market sources such as green bonds or the Green Climate Fund; and the aviation sector.

- Read more from Carbon Pulse


Different trajectories

A look at REDD+ finance committed to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Tanzania between 2009 and 2014 reveals two contrasting trajectories, as documented by Forest Trends’ REDDX initiative. Donor governments, multilateral institutions, and others committed $45.2 million to PNG, with a steady increase in financing over time. Tanzania received an early injection of finance from Norway in 2009 but little since. A spokesperson from Norway’s ministry of climate and environment told Climate Change News that the program had a “planned end,” but Isilda Nhantumbo, an analyst at IIED, was critical. “For Norway to pull out without the security of others coming in and supporting that process is actually a waste of Norwegian effort as well as disillusioning local communities,” she said.

- Read more from Climate Change News

Putting risk in the rearview

Private sector finance for conservation is on the rise, according to EKO Asset Partners and NatureVest, but are environmental markets truly investable? In a recent GreenBiz column, Peter Weisberg of The Climate Trust argues that public money could be well spent to mitigate risk on the carbon markets. He points to the World Bank’s Pilot Auction Facility, which is providing “put options” for methane projects so that developers have the option to sell their carbon offsets to the Bank at a fixed price if they cannot find another buyer. The Climate Trust is also offering a put option for the offsets produced by its investment fund.

- Read more from GreenBiz 


A no deforestation diet

Ecosystem Marketplace Senior Associate Allie Goldstein just spent a month purging products traced to the major drivers of deforestation – palm oil, soy, cattle, and pulp & paper – out of her life. The mission (nearly) impossible was chronicled in The Washington Post and led Goldstein to conclude that, though consumer pressure never hurts, companies should be the ones pushing to cut deforestation out of their supply chains. Scott Poynton, founder of The Forest Trust (TFT), works with major brands to do just that. He says that companies are changing the way they buy palm oil so that they can trace it to its source – and, once they know the source, they can start putting their buying power behind responsible suppliers.

- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace


Passing the check to consumers

Many capped companies under the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) profited from the over-allocation of free allowances between 2008 and 2014, a recent study by Dutch consultancy CE Delft and commissioned by Carbon Market Watch found. Industry made 8 billion euros from selling over-allocated allowances and up to 26 billion euros in windfall profits from passing the (non-existent) costs of credits off to customers. The study acknowledges that the over-allocation problem has been addressed in Phase 3 of the EU ETS, but pass-through costs could still be an issue, the authors write. Some industry groups called the report unhelpful, saying that over-allocation was a historical problem that will be more than corrected by 2020.

- Read the report from CE Delft

Sharing the airspace

A new JIKO policy brief overviews the state of play in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). With international emissions from air travel on a path to triple or quadruple by 2040, ICAO has committed to cap emissions at 2020 levels. Working groups within ICAO are currently looking at the criteria used to verify offsets within current market-based mechanisms, as they plan to create their own. The JIKO paper argues that ICAO should work closely with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to ensure there is no double counting and that offsets used by airlines are credible under the market-based mechanism(s) likely to emerge out of the Paris Agreement.

- Read the JIKO paper

Act globally, offset locally

Energy efficiency activities and carbon farming in Australia could supply up to 500 million Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) at under AU$20/tonne, according to a new market analysis by RepuTex. More than 300 million ACCUs could be generated for AU$4/tonne or less, a significant discount from the AU$12.3/tonne that the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund  (ERF) paid at the most recent auction. This favorable pricing could keep ERF money within Australia, the research finds. “The lack of urgency to use international credits may help local policymakers by providing time for the local market to learn by doing before any international linkage is established, while enabling investment to flow into local activities, particularly for carbon farmers,” RepuTex wrote in a blog post.

- Read the analysis from RepuTex


Program Officer, Land Use and Forests – The Gold Standard Foundation

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Senior Program Officer will coordinate technical, finance, legal, and communications teams to deliver funded programs and projects on time and on budget. The successful candidate will understand the Gold Standard’s position in environmental markets and have a passion for its mission; have a natural ability to recognize problems and quickly identify solutions; and have a bachelor’s degree with a focus on environmental services, plus at least five years of experience in project management.

- Read more about the position here

Program Assistant, Global Climate – Environmental Defense Fund

Based in Washington, D.C., the Program Assistant will provide administrative support for staff members in the Global Climate Program, which works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world through the promotion of innovative market-based mechanisms. The position involves making travel arrangements, translating documents from Spanish and Portuguese to English, managing the logistics for climate-related workshops, and conducting research on forest conservation and REDD+.

- Read more about the position here

Senior Climate Change Specialist – The World Bank Group

Based in Washington, D.C., the Senior Climate Change Specialist will assume the day-to-day management of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, among other responsibilities. The position requires excellent stakeholder engagement and knowledge product generation skills. A master’s degree in economics, natural sciences, or a related field is required, as is 10 years of international work experience in sustainable development, risk assessment, and management.

- Read more about the position here

Landscapes Manager – Verified Carbon Standard

Based in Washington, D.C., the Landscapes Manager will support the growth and development of the Verified Carbon Standard's landscapes framework and REDD+. The job entails managing outreach and collaboration with potential partner governments, NGOs, and other local partners and contributing to defining and operationalizing VCS's post-Paris Agreement REDD+ strategy. The successful candidate will have a master's degree in a relevant field and excellent knowledge of sustainable agriculture and low-emissions sustainable development. Fluency in English and Spanish is required.

Read more about the position here

Account Director – Climate Care

Based in Oxford, UK, the Account Director will take responsibility for the management and development of their own clients and also manage and develop the skills of a client services team. Climate Care works with clients on corporate social responsibility programs, including project development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and carbon offsetting. The successful candidate will have exceptional communications and influencing skills and a track record of securing and growing client accounts.

Read more about the position here

Innovations Manager – The Carbon Trust

Based in London, UK, the Innovations Manager will manage projects identifying opportunities facing innovative low-carbon technology companies, deliver commercialization prospects, and build diverse networks across government, technical specialists, entrepreneurs, and investors. The successful candidate will be comfortable with quantitative analysis (including scenario-based models), be able to execute market interviews, and be comfortable collaborating with diverse stakeholders and building trust. Prior experience in management consulting or a relevant industry is required.

- 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. 


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