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Ecosystem Marketplace, Marketplace eNewsletter

September 30, 2016    

From the Editors


Forests and wetlands are nature's first defense against climate change, but they're also fragile ecosystems subject to a changing climate. Two stories this week shine a light on the importance of buffer pools when using nature to regulate climate – even as climate undermines nature.  

In Washington, the Colville Tribes' forest carbon project was threatened by a fire that burned at least 170,000 acres last month amidst a record-breaking year for wildfires in the state. In May, the Colville Business Council agreed on resolutions that would allow them to sell carbon offsets from their carbon project to petroleum giant BP, which is regulated under California's cap-and-trade market. But the recent fire may cut into the emissions reductions they are able to achieve, and therefore the offsets they will be able to sell.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Tierra Resources is experimenting with a wetland restoration program on land owned by ConocoPhillips – even as climate change continues to chip away at these natural buffers through sea level rise and intensifying storms. The new "air seeding" method through which wetlands are planted by crop-duster airplane costs about $3,000 per acre – 3% of the cost of conventional restoration techniques. And a recent study funded by local electric utility Entergy estimates that carbon finance has the potential to create $1.6 billion in private restoration financeover the next 50 years. That's a little less than a 2% dent in the $50 billion price tag of Louisiana's 50-year master planfor rebuilding natural infrastructure along its coastline.

Still, the success of these carbon projects depends on their ability to stay ahead of the climate threats they aim to mitigate, and standards are taking notice.

Earlier this year, the American Carbon Registry expanded its wetland methodology to allow for avoided conversion of wetlands, accounting for the carbon that would be released if wetlands converted to open water – the "business-as-usual" scenario with rising seas. And in the California cap-and-trade market, forest carbon projects are required to set aside between 2% and 4% of their offsets into a collective buffer pool to hedge against the risk of fire. The range depends on how much landowners do to mitigate the risk of wildfire in the first place.

More news from Ecosystem Marketplace below so keep reading!

For comments or questions, please email: agoldstein@ecosystemmarketplace.com

Voluntary Carbon

Carbon News


Taking seconds in Zambezi

The Lower Zambezi REDD+ (Reducing Deforestation and Degradation of Forests) project in Zambia achieved its second verification under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) last month. The project area encompasses 40,000 hectares of primary Miombo forest adjacent to Lower Zambezi National Park and is specifically designed to benefit the "poorest of the poor" through sustainable charcoal, honey production, and other small business opportunities. In addition to VCS verification, it has also achieved triple gold validation under the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standards. Auditors used smart phone technology to collect the data on soil, biodiversity, leakage, and forest inventory for VCS.

Naughty or nice? 
Tom Clarke, who heads the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, has an unusual plan for Patriot Coal Corp's bankrupt mines. Clarke is acquiring 153 mining permits for free in exchange for assuming $176 million in clean-up liabilities and $109 million for pension and Black Lung obligations. He plans to sell four million tons of coal a year. The twist? The coal will be bundled with carbon offsets provided by GreenTrees' reforestation projects. Clarke hopes that purchasing these bundles could be a creative way for power plants to meet the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and he's talking with states about including this option in their plans for complying with the rules.


China's phoenix offsets

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last week approved a total of 43 projects – mostly solar and wind – to generate Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs). However, just 16 of them will generate a potential 1.2 million Category 1 CCERs – the only category accepted into most of the China's seven pilot emissions trading markets. Category 3 projects, or those that generated offsets before being registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), have dominated the CCER supply yet are ineligible in most of the pilots. But the NDRC has yet to set the rules for the national cap-and-trade market to be launched next year, and some analysts think there may be demand for pre-CDM tonnes.

Indonesia's baby steps

Indonesia released a draft of its new climate plan, known as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC, last week, announcing a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 29% under "business as usual" levels by 2030. Greenpeace wondered about the implementation, with Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Southeast Asia, claiming that "the government has proposed no new measures to curb peatland and forest destruction, which make up 63 percent of Indonesia's emissions." The commitment revises the country's previous target of cutting emissions 26% by 2020.

Anyone have a better Plan A?

With less than 100 days until the Paris negotiations and climate pledges falling short of the 2-degree target, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for a closed door meeting with about 40 world leaders on September 27, ahead of the UN general assembly during Climate Week. Invitees include U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as Chinese leaders. Climate Week will also be the place for finalizing the Sustainable Development Goals, which among other objectives call for action to mitigate climate change, end deforestation, and protect ecosystem services. 

For this negotiating text, bring your magnifying glass
Negotiators in Bonn last week worked to whittle down the currently 83-page (and size eight font!) Paris negotiating text ahead of December's Conference of the Parties (COP). These Bonn talks aimed to determine which issues will fit into the first section of the text – the core Paris deal – and which items will go under a second section of more technical issues related to implementation. A third set of issues are essential to the negotiations but are currently in a no man's land within the text. The structure of the negotiating text will be important to the flow and focus of the COP itself. Meanwhile, the UN revealed last week that funding for the conference itself is short by $1.3 million.


Homegrown expertise 
In Calakmul, Mexico, three young mestizo foresters – Sara Camacho, Yoni Sima, and Manuel Arana – are training locals to do the tree inventories needed to measure the carbon asset of their forest. Arana can identify 90% of the species in Calakmul by sight and can estimate tree heights almost as accurately as a clinometer. "We don't need to hire external people," says Sima. "People who live in the forests can do the monitoring themselves." Local inventories such as these can feed into Mexico's National Forest and Soils Inventory which, alongside other data, is used to calculate the country's reference scenario under the UN climate agreement – essential for determining how much Mexico may earn from international REDD+ payments.


Dis-jointed implementation 
In a recent report on the effectiveness of the Joint Implementation (JI) mechanism that allowed for Annex I countries to invest in emissions reductions projects in other developed nations, the Stockholm Environment Institute found that 73% of the offsets issued under JI, or some 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, were in fact non-additional and resulted in no relative emissions reduction. The bulk of these offsets came from Russian and Ukrainian firms that would have likely engaged in their respective mitigation activities with or without carbon finance. The study also found that nearly all of the faulty JI credits came from countries with no regulatory oversight in place – primarily Russia and Ukraine.

A dwindling 3 trillion
There are an estimated 3 trillion trees on Earth, 15.3 billion of which are cut down each year, according to new research published in Nature. The study's author, Thomas Crowther of the Netherland Institute of Ecology, said he was surprised to find that "we were talking about trillions." The previous leading estimate for the number of trees on the planet was 400 billion. Crowther's study was more comprehensive, using a combination of satellite imagery, on-the-ground inventories, and computer modeling for every biome. Meanwhile, data from Global Forest Watch shows that global forest loss declined 9% in 2014 under 2013 numbers, though 18.7 million hectares were still lost last year.


A new online platform will allow for the voluntary cancellation of Certified Emissions Reductions developed under the CDM, starting September . CDM project participants may express their interest here.


Forestry Program Associate 2 – American Carbon Registry

Based in Sacramento, California, the Forestry Program Associate will support the Director of Forestry by reviewing project listing applications, data reporting, and verification documents; formulating responses to technical questions raised by project developers; and helping to coordinate the development of new quantification methodologies. The successful candidate should have a bachelor's or master's degree in forestry; at least five years of experience working with projects in the forestry, carbon, ecosystem, sustainability or other environmental markets; and experience with greenhouse gas accounting principles. 

- Read more about the position here

Policy Associate – The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT)

Based in San Francisco, California, the Policy Associate will support the PFT's policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The Policy Associate will focus on research and analysis of forest watershed service programs, climate change policies, conservation tax policies, and federal funding programs. The successful candidate should have a master's degree in a related ecological or economic field; relevant job experience; and excellent research, writing and analytical skills.

- Read more about the position here

Designer and Social Media Expert – The Gold Standard Foundation

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Designer and Social Media Expert will design and produce communications materials for The Gold Standard website and newsletter, maintain website content and contact databases, manage social media channels, and support event management. The successful candidate should have at least two years of work experience; proficiency with Adobe suite software; basic HTML and Wordpress and/or Dual capability; and familiarity with social media channels. All applicants should be proficient in English.

- Read more about the position here

Consultant – The Carbon Trust
Based in Mexico City, Mexico, the Consultant will conduct in-depth research, identify and engage stakeholders, organize workshop logistics and contribute to business development activities, all around low-carbon innovation and policy recommendations. The successful candidate should have a bachelor's degree in science or engineering; relevant work experience in consulting or renewable energy; and prior experience related to energy analysis and working with multidisciplinary stakeholders.

- Read more about the position here

Associate, Greenhouse Gas & Sustainability – Cadmus Group

Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Associate will help manage Cadmus's Greenhouse Gas & Sustainability Reporting practice by delivering marketing and communications and policy reports, managing the work of project teams including schedules and budgets, and fostering successful and sustained client relationships. The successful candidate should have a graduate degree in environmental policy or science; three or more years of project delivery experience; and demonstrated familiarity with emissions quantifications protocols such as The Climate Registry.

- Read more about the position here

Senior Climate Change & Forest Consultant - The South Pole Group

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Senior Climate Change & Forest Consultant will plan, coordinate and manage projects and consultancy mandates related to climate change and forestry, deliver consultancy reports in English, liaison with clients on a project basis and help prepare proposals for new consultancy mandates. The successful candidate should have a university degree, ideally in environmental science or environmental management; an understanding of REDD+, land use and finance; and at least five years of experience in project management and consulting.

- Read more about the position here



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Carbon Continuum


% of global emissions covered by countries' submitted climate plans so far

Carbon Continuum

2.6 trillion 

trees added to the previous leading estimate for total number of trees on the planet

Carbon Continuum


% of credits issued under the Joint Implementation mechanism that had additionality ratings better than "not plausible"

Carbon Continuum

"I regret to inform you that we have a deficit now of 1.2 million euros just to cover the sessions you have in your calendar." - UN climate chief Christiana Figueres on the funding gap for putting on the Conference of the Parties, where negotiators will discuss an even larger financing gap.

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