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A Taste of the Technical

  • Fairtrade International released its Fairtrade Climate Standard, developed in collaboration with the Gold Standard to be used as an add-on standard for carbon offsets. The standard requires a minimum offset price as well as an end-buyer commitment to reduce emissions beyond offsetting. More details here.

  • The Gold Standard has launched a public consultation regarding their Climate Finance Transparency Initiative, which seeks to publicize issuance and pricing data of Gold Standard offsets for prospective buyers. The consultation is open from October 5-November 3.

  • The Ejido Verde reforestation project in Mexico has issued a Request for Proposals for completing a project design document for the voluntary carbon markets, as well as assistance with offset sales. More information here.

“You need someone to say, ‘you said you would do this, now how is it getting on?’”

– Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership at the World Economic Forum, on corporations’ reporting on their own deforestation commitments

Your news in numbers


Tonnes offset for the Switzerland-based Roger Federer

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From the Editors

Ecosystem Marketplace’s V-Carbon News Brief quietly celebrated its 100th issue last month, marking more than four years of continuous coverage of voluntary carbon news. Meanwhile our Forest Carbon News Brief published its 96th issue in September. In honor of this centennial and almost-centennial, we’re launching a joint newsletter with a new look and a few new features.

This merger reflects the changes we’re seeing on the ground. Forestry has been the most common category of voluntary carbon offset transacted in the last two years, and voluntary markets are increasingly influenced by compliance ones – and vice versa. This newsletter will continue to report on the details of carbon market transactions (see ‘Here’s the Deal’), as well as project development, policies relevant to market actors, carbon finance, and more.

The new ‘For Carbon Wonks’ section includes announcements from standards and project developers, for all of you tech junkies. You’ll also see a couple of fun new features – ‘Digits’ and ‘Quoted this Week’ – in the sidebar.

As we begin this new chapter, let us know what you’d like to see in the revamped newsletter, and consider becoming a Supporting Subscriber. $250 gets your organization’s name and weblink included for one year. We now reach more than 10,000 subscribers biweekly.

Now, without further ado, the news…

Latest News


No net (emissions) in the way for these tennis players

The U.S. Open offset the emissions of 256 tennis stars and 920 employees as they traveled to New York last month for the two-week tournament. Between players flying an estimated 2.1 million airline miles and employees commuting to the tournament on a daily basis, the Open calculated 1,225 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) produced from travel emissions. They purchased offsets from landfill gas projects to neutralize the impact. “The stuff we can’t reduce we buy offsets for,” said Bina Indelicato of Eco Evolutions LLC, a consultant for the tennis association. “It’s interesting to see how big an impact just 250 players have just from flying.”

Blackbird meets Farmer

Alberta, Canada-based oil and gas exploration company Blackbird Energy announced its partnership with The Carbon Farmer to plant 2,500 native trees in northwestern Alberta. The company expects to finance the planting of 20,000 trees by the year end – more than the trees it needs to clear for well pad development. Though Alberta has a carbon tax that covers major oil and gas emitters, Blackbird is too small to be affected. Instead, the company’s CEO Garth Braun explained his motivation to act local: “I’m taking these trees out [with pad development], so I’d like to plant them somewhere else.” For the moment Braun is more concerned with giving his hometown reforestation and watershed protection; however, Blackbird may also decide to purchase offsets once available. The Carbon Farmer estimates there will be 459 tCO2e in emissions reductions certified from the tree-planting project, and hopes to verify under The Gold Standard.

One defat latte, hold the carbon

San Diego airport surveyed 500 flyers and found that 78% said they would be willing to pay up to $9 to eliminate the environmental impact of their flight. However, fewer than 1% had actually purchased offsets. To change that, the airport’s Good Traveler project plans to make participating more fun by ultimately developing a mobile app for offsetting. In the meantime, it’s selling $1 stickers that offset 500 flight miles through TerraPass. Funds will be dispersed across two carbon offset projects –the Arcata Community Forest and the Big Smile Wind Farm –as well as a water restoration project in the Colorado Delta (not an offset project). The project’s first airport concession to sell these stickers will be Ryan Brothers’ Coffee.

Offsets for you and me 

The UNFCCC launched a new portal called Climate Neutral Now through which individuals can calculate and voluntarily offset their personal emissions. The new platform marks a turning point for the UNFCCC’s treatment of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) originally developed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for compliance purposes. So far, only a handful of the potential 7,500 CDM-registered projects appear in the online store, though all are eligible. Project developers may set their own prices, with current averages running between $2 and $3.5 per tonne.


Your chance to win - $1 million at stake |A cool million for innovation

The Climate Trust, a Portland, Oregon-based offset manager, has been issued a $1 million Innovation Grant from the US Department of Agriculture to develop new ways to sequester carbon from forestry, grassland and biogas projects. The group plans to actively raise an additional $4 million in private capital to invest upfront in farmers, ranchers and forest owners that are trying out carbon accounting for new conservation practices – ‘innovations’ the Trust hopes will result in 800,000 tCO2e reduced over 10 years. The Trust plans to invest in four to 12 projects and is looking for suggestions. Projects certified under the American Carbon Registry, the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the Climate Action Reserve, or the Verified Carbon Standard may express interest here.

To invalidate or not to invalidate? That is the second question  | Validity to be determined

California’s Air Resources Board has announced its second investigation into the validity of offsets generated by Environmental Credit Corp (which was recently bought by ClimeCo), this time regarding a livestock methane project in Indiana. The ARB claims the facility, operated by T&M Bos Dairy, was in non-compliance with state laws during the generation of 15,070 offsets and may be subject to invalidation. According to Carbon Pulse, Dirk Eggleston, controller at T&M Limited Partnership, says the company is responding to the ARB and is confident the offsets will not be invalidated. The project has 25 days to provide additional data and assist the ARB, after which the ARB has 30 days to rule on the matter. The ARB has previously invalidated offsets from Environmental Credit Corp and EOS Climate at an out-of-compliance Arkansas facility.



Not a two-way street | Closing the door to jurisdictional approaches? 

In submitting its climate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Brazil promised to slash emissions 37% below 2005 levels by 2025, with a further decrease of 6% by 2030. To do that, it aims to preserve the progress it’s made on deforestation, but the role for market mechanisms is unclear. The document leaves room for international emissions reduction “units” but explicitly prevents other countries from using those units to offset their own emissions. “The US state of California and the Brazilian state of Acre can do what they want, but we will not recognize the use of these units in the federal carbon accounting of other Parties to the UNFCCC,” said Adriano Santhiago de Oliveira, Director of the Environment Ministry’s Department of Climate Change.

The neighborly thing to do

Ontario and Québec signed an MOU to collaborate on carbon offset protocols, a move that will facilitate the linkage of the provinces’ carbon markets. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced in April that the province would design an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to cut emissions 37% below 1990 levels by 2030; Québec already has an ETS in place. The MOU comes within a broader framework of economic collaboration and low-carbon development between the two regions. “If Ontario and Quebec did this separately, it would create more complexity and cost twice as much,” said Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray. Within the Québec market, which is already linked with California’s, compliance entities may utilize offsets for up to 8% of their emissions.

Made in China: now with offsetting for your t-shirts | Now even shirts are offset in China

The Chinese province of Guangdong announced plans to expand its pilot carbon market to cover six new sectors, including ceramics, textiles, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, paper-making and aviation. The expansion will effectively add 431 companies to the market and triple existing demand. When China launches its national ETS in 2017, it is expected to cover 6-8 sectors in total. Shanghai’s pilot market is also considering adding additional sectors to the market ahead of national trading. Estimates of the scope of China’s national market range from 3-4 billion tonnes a year by 2020 – less than half of China’s total emissions.

Arrival time unknown

Earlier this year, King County – which envelops the city of Seattle – passed legislation establishing a Transit Carbon Offset Program for the county’s metro system. While the program was the first of its kind for any transit agency in the US, a new ordinance passed in September may make that point only theoretical. In the latest legislation – and upon further consideration of a financial feasibility study of using carbon offsets – the county council added key text to expand from carbon offsets to include alternative “environmental attributes.” In practice, the new text addition could mean a complete shift away from offsets.


Corporation join the carbon bandwagon 

CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) reported a threefold increase in the number of companies that use an internal price on carbon. 436 companies now use an internal price on carbon, up from 150 companies last year. Many of these companies – including General Motors, Microsoft, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, TD Bank, Commerzbank, and others – use this internal price in part to finance carbon offset purchases. Another 583 companies said they plan to use an internal price on carbon in the next two years. In a report published earlier this year, Ecosystem Marketplace found that companies with an internal price on carbon were five times more likely to include offsetting in their carbon management strategy.


Dirty money

Young Erumuse, director of The London Carbon Credit Company Limited (LCCCL), has been banned from directing or managing companies for 15 years due to unscrupulous practices. Erumuse purchased carbon offsets for an average of 3.5 pounds and resold them to unknowing customers at an average of 110.7 pounds, taking home a profit of 1.7 million pounds, according to The Mirror. The company’s website used logos from the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard without permission. The High Court ruled that LCCCL had presented carbon offsets as an investment when they had no genuine resale value and had failed to keep adequate records of transactions.



Where the rubber hits

Firm Commitments: Tracking Company Endorsers of the New York Declaration on Forests launched last month at Climate Week. The report found that 92% of the Declaration’s private sector endorsers have issued their own forest sustainability targets and/or procurement policies, while 56% have publically disclosed progress towards these goals. At a launch event in New York, Mike Barry of M&S, one of the endorsers, encouraged full disclosure – even if companies fall short of their targets. “I would rather have a thousand companies with silver medals than 10 with gold. We need thousands to sign on,” he said. 

40 and counting | No mid-life crisis here

The tally for national carbon pricing programs is up to 40, according to the World Bank’s State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2015 report, released in September. In addition, the report tracked 12 sub-national carbon pricing efforts around the world. “Together, carbon pricing instruments cover about half of the emissions in these jurisdictions, which translates to about 7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about 12 percent of global emissions,” the authors find. Previous research by Ecosystem Marketplace has found that the existence of compliance markets often spurs rather than deters voluntary offset buyers.

The forest’s keepers

A new report by the Rights and Resources Initiative shows that while indigenous people across the globe hold customary or community-based tenure rights to 65% of the world’s land area, they only have formal legal claim to 8%. The study showed that five countries – China, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico – contain about two-thirds of land formally owned by indigenous peoples. Defining land rights has significant implications for REDD+, the authors state, since legally recognized community forests contain approximately 37.7 billion tonnes of carbon – and much more may be sequestered in forests managed by communities without legal land rights.



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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