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From the Editors

At the Gold Standard conference hosted in Zürich, Switzerland last week, an H&M model in a short plaid skirt revealing impossibly long legs flashed across the screen. “That’s a skimpy water footprint you’re wearing,” read the doctored copy, with “Certified by Gold Standard” appearing in smaller print below.

The fake ad was meant to illustrate how companies might market the multiple outcomes of Gold Standard 3.0, a new version of the standard being fleshed out this year. The goal is to leverage results-based finance for verified impacts beyond carbon – especially those related to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, Water Benefits Certificates, which represent cubic meters of water sustainably supplied and are already possible under an existing Gold Standard methodology, could be produced alongside carbon offsets. Or perhaps DALYs, short for “Disability Adjusted Life Years” – essentially one year of healthy life lost – could be calculated and then avoided so that cookstoves investors, for instance, could identify their impact in terms of healthy years saved.

According to a panel of offset-buying companies, the idea of verifying multiple impacts of climate projects seemed intriguing. For Deutsche Post DHL, which purchased about 250,000 tonnes last year from wind, landfill gas, cookstoves, and forestry projects, the Lesotho clean cookstoves project that the Post originated themselves is one that they’re particularly proud of because of its health benefits for women.

“The feedback I like most from the project is the feedback from the women that ‘It’s comfortable cooking, my skin is cleaner,’”, said Daniela Spiesssman, an expert with the company’s GoGreen program, which allows customers to send mail carbon-neutral. She said they’re applying to get the Lesotho project certified under the Fairtrade Climate Standard, which Gold Standard helped to launch in Paris last December.

L’Oréal, which recently committed to reducing its supply chain emissions 20% by 2020 (in addition to 60% cuts in its direct emissions) also looks for offset projects that benefit producers of some of the company’s key sourced ingredients. Rachel Barré, the Carbon Balanced Program Manager, showed a video of three projects they’re working with: one in Burkina Faso, where clean cookstoves reduce emissions from boiling shea nuts (an ingredient in cosmetics); one in Sumatra, where agroforestry combines patchouli and cinnamon production while reducing deforestation; and one in Bolivia, where reduced fertilizer use on quinoa farms also cuts carbon.

“We have identified within our raw materials where the best opportunity was for carbon reduction within our supply chain,” Barré explained, framing L’Oréal’s commitment within the company’s Sharing Beauty with All campaign. When asked about her wish list for the next few years, she said that “making sustainability something desirable,” even glamorous, was at the top.

And, if their fictitious ad campaign is any indication, that’s something the Gold Standard is thinking hard about, too. The first round of public consultation on Gold Standard 3.0 closed on April 15, but the Foundation plans to open up another comment period on specific topics over the summer. It expects that a pilot version of the 3.0 standard will be available for testing by the end of 2016.



The new Holacracy

The online shoe company Zappos has been experimenting with a form of self-organization called Holacracy in which power is distributed among employees rather than clustering at the top. The system led several departments –Travel, Sustainability, and Brand Aura – to collaborate on a new company pledge to offset its emissions from 6.8 million miles of air travel planned for 2016. Zappos is working with the retailer Natural Capital Partners and plans to buy offsets from forestry projects in Mississippi, Chile, and Brazil. The company did not disclose how many offsets it expects to purchase, but a quick calculation shows that 6.8 million miles of air travel would likely  translate to less than 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).

- Read the press release


Cementing CO2 reductions

Mineral Carbonation International (MCi), a Canberra, Australia-based technology start-up, recently signed a $100 million memorandum of understanding with Singapore-based ArmorShield Holdings to further develop a technology that stores carbon dioxide in carbonates used in construction materials such as cement. MCi CEO Marcus Dawe said they aim to find a partner in China to build and operate the first large-scale demonstration plant that uses carbon reactor technology to store CO2 in building materials, resulting in – they hope – carbon offsets. Australian mining company Orica as well as both the Australian and New South Wales Governments previously invested $3.12 million in research and development.

- Read more from The Canberra Times


Banking on forests

The World Bank Group released its 2016-2020 Forest Action Plan last week, solidifying its two-pronged approach of both commercializing activities that rely on forest conservation and making the activities that drive deforestation less bankable. The Bank plans to “move away from the project-by-project and instrument-driven approach that has shaped the forest portfolio over the past few years to a more programmatic approach.” The plan notes that 38% of the World Bank’s financial commitment to the Global Program on Forests and Climate is earmarked for performance-based payments and that the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund and the BioCarbon Fund’s Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes now support results-based finance for emissions reductions in 21 countries.

- Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace

Alberta’s bigger umbrella

Along with the release of its 2016 budget last week, the Canadian province of Alberta provided details on the economy-wide CAD$20/tonne carbon tax it plans to implement starting in 2017 (rising to CAD$30/tonne in 2018). At the end of 2017, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) that covers facilities that emit 100,000 tonnes or more per year will be replaced by the Carbon Competitive Regulation, which will cover major emitters across 12 sectors. “The offset protocols [under SGER] will need to be altered should the province adopt a broader carbon pricing program as many of the sectors now eligible for offsets would have emissions priced,” a November 2015 climate leadership report to ministers stated.

- Read more about the regulation here


Transparency, launched

The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), which aims to build a methodological framework for countries to measure greenhouse gas emissions alongside other sustainable development objectives, launched last week. The implementing partners include the Verified Carbon Standard, as well as the World Resources Institute and the UNEP DTU (Technical University of Denmark) Partnership. Four donors – the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the ClimateWorks Foundation, and ministries from Germany and Italy – have already committed $16.5 million. The initial goal is to work with 20 to 30 developing countries, to improve transparency around reporting and verifying progress toward climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

- Read more about ICAT


Is the price right?

The Gold Standard released its first “Supply Report” with cumulative offset issuances and retirement data current through the first quarter of 2016. The report also explores three different ways of looking at carbon pricing: based on actual market pricing (according to Ecosystem Marketplace data); based on incurred project costs (which the new Fairtrade Climate Standard estimates); and based on “value delivered” (based on, for instance, the social cost of carbon assessed by governments). The report shows that Gold Standard has issued a total of 47 million offsets to date, and buyers have retired 25 million of them. The standard plans to publish new supply data quarterly. VCS, the American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve all have downloadable issuance and retirements databases.

- Read the Gold Standard report

Sharing is caring

After spending five years painstakingly tracking the progress of carbon dioxide through trees in a temperate forest in Switzerland, researchers concluded that up to 40% of the carbon stored in the fine roots of one tree may actually be from a neighbor. This “tree-to-tree carbon shuttling between roots of tall trees” can even occur between completely different tree species, such as spruce and beech, the study finds. Previous research showed that tree seedlings sometimes exchange carbon, but this was the first time the phenomenon was observed in grown trees. The study was published in Science.

- Read more from the Christian Science Monitor


Executive Director – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

Based in New York City, New York, the Executive Director will run the multistate initiative to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. The successful candidate will be an effective manager with the ability to provide technical and administrative services to support participating RGGI states. The position requires 10 years of professional experience; a graduate degree in environmental policy or a related field; and a firm working knowledge of state and/or federal policy issues related to climate change and energy markets.

- Read more about the position here

Account Manager, Forests Program – CDP

Based in London, the Account Manager will develop a project integrating CDP’s work on forests into their Supply Chain program. The role involves managing relationships with project partners as well as with companies working on deforestation and supply chain issues. The successful candidate will have at least two years’ of experience in project management, strong quantitative data analysis skills, and demonstrable experience in the drivers of deforestation, commodity supply chains, and sustainability.

- Read more about the position here

Associate – Global Canopy Programme (GCP)

Based in Brazil or Peru, the Associate will work with GCP’s Drivers of Deforestation program on forest risk commodities and transparency. The successful candidate will be an experienced analyst with a deep understanding of the commodity supply chains that drive deforestation in Latin America. The position requires a master’s degree; good networks within the private sector, governments, and civil society; and the ability to travel up to 25% of the time. Fluency in English as well as Portuguese and/or Spanish is required.

- Read more about the position here

Policy Manager, Ecosystem Services – Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Based in Bonn, Germany, this one-year position involves managing FSC’s projects in developing procedures, guidelines, and other supporting elements for the certification of ecosystem services. The successful candidate will have a degree in a relevant field (such as natural resource management or forest economics), at least five years of professional experience, and good time management skills. Fluency in Spanish or French would be an asset.

- Read more about the position here

Ecosystem Services Project Officer – ETIFOR

Based in Padova, Italy, the Project officer will support the ECOSTAR Erasmus+ (European Research and Enterprise Alliance on Marketing and Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) project, including relevant research, communication, and business development activities. The ideal candidate will have a PhD in forestry or environmental policy as well as specific educational background in market-based mechanisms for conserving ecosystem services, and at least one year of relevant work experience on this topic.

- Read more about the position here

Senior Consultant, Sustainable Investments – South Pole Group

Based in London, Stokcholm, or Berlin, the Senior Consultant will plan, coordinate, and manage projects and consultancies related to sustainable investments, and liaison with clients. The successful candidate will have a degree in economics, finance, or a related discipline and at least five years of relevant work experience. Language skills in German, French, Spanish, and Scandanavian languages would be an advantage. South Pole Group is also seeking a Senior Consultant on supply chain issues.

- Read more about the position here

Gender Methodology Coordinator – Gold Standard

Based anywhere, the Gender Methodology Coordinator will fill a 12-month contract position to help develop the Gold Standard’s methodology to quantify and verify gender impacts. The work will be divided into three phases: a needs assessment, methodology development, and finally roll-out. Familiarity with current Gold Standard methodologies is required.

- Read more about the position here



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