California’s public policy innovations for solving environmental challenges have been emulated worldwide. The state is now poised to deepen this legacy of environmental leadership as it scopes the feasibility of implementing the tropical forests provision of its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act. This provision, which would create a mechanism for carbon trades between California and tropical nations, is currently under deliberation by the California Air Resources Board. At Earth Innovation Institute, we see it as the best opportunity in a decade to slow down climate change.
The reason is simple: healthy tropical forests are central to solving climate change. The clearing, logging and burning of tropical forests release about a fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions that are caused by human activities. Roughly half of all of the carbon that leaks into the atmosphere when tropical trees are killed by bulldozers or chainsaws is absorbed again by living tropical trees that are growing and storing carbon in their wood. If we slow the loss of tropical forests while speeding their recovery, the chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change become considerably larger. Tropical forests can buy humanity precious time to make the much slower transition to low-emission energy systems.
But what does California have to do with tropical forests? The quick answer is: a lot! The tropical forests provision of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)—formally known as the international sector-based offsets program–would establish the first regulated market for channeling investments into tropical states and provinces that are successfully slowing carbon pollution caused by tropical forest destruction. It was in anticipation of this market that Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Governor of California, invited Governors of tropical forest states and provinces in Brazil and Indonesia to Los Angeles to establish a novel partnership for slowing climate change by slowing tropical forest destruction. This 2008 partnership has grown to 29 members, called the “Governors’ Climate and Forests task force”. The territories of GCF members include one fourth of the world’s tropical forests, including most of the rainforests of Brazil, Indonesia, Peru and Mexico.
Many tropical governors have not waited for the launch of the California market. They have gotten to work. The Brazilian GCF state governments alone, with help from the Brazilian national government, have already slowed down Amazon deforestation rates by more than 70%, keeping four billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. This is a bigger contribution to climate change mitigation than Obama’s Clean Power Plan will achieve by 2030.
These tropical Governors and the farmers, businesses and rural communities that they represent are ready to do much more. But they need a signal that the world will care if they do. They need to know that their bold efforts to do what industrialized nations have failed to do—to keep most of their native forests standing—will translate into better markets for their products, better investments in their low-carbon economies, and more jobs. In 2014, GCF governors pledged to slow deforestation 80% by 2020 if adequate funding is in place.
Once operational, the GWSA tropical forest provision could provide just that signal. It would allow California’s biggest carbon polluters to offset up to 4% of their total emissions by investing in statewide programs that have been developed to slow the clearing and degradation of tropical forests.
The best example of this type of program—and the first in line to receive investments from California if the program is launched—is found in the Brazilian state of Acre, in the southwestern corner of the Amazon region. During a recent visit to Acre, where I serve on the science committee of the state’s climate change program, I was inspired by the remarkable progress that has been made in building a new “low-carbon” economy. Acre is keeping forests standing while producing more food on the land that is already cleared, increasing its exports of fish, pork, chicken, Brazil nuts and native rubber to other states. It is creating jobs and new sources of income for the state’s indigenous people, its forest-dwelling rubber tappers and its small-scale farmers. After showing me one of the Brazil nut processing factories that he is responsible for, Manoel Monteiro—who grew up in the forest harvesting native rubber—asked me if California would implement its tropical forest program. “Our cooperative is giving better Brazil nut and rubber prices to our 2500 members, who are all poor rubber tapper families. We need the California carbon market to keep this program strong.”
California’s tropical forest program would also bring substantial benefits to Californians, especially those with low incomes. By providing a large volume of inexpensive offsets, it would help to avoid price increases in electricity that are projected as the state’s power utilities strive to meet aggressive emissions reduction targets. California has pledged to reduce carbon pollution to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
The poorest people in California and the world will also suffer the most from climate change itself. In this regard, California’s tropical forest program could help avoid centuries of unnecessary suffering if it initiates a domino effect, with other states and nations building mechanisms for rewarding progress in slowing tropical deforestation. Such economic signals could go a long way towards realizing the potential of healthy tropical forests to solve climate change.
California can galvanize its global environmental leadership by implementing the tropical forest program.
Source: Daniel Nepstad, Ph.D. Executive Director and Senior Scientist at Earth Innovation Institute
This Earth Day, world leaders are coming together in New York City to sign the historic Paris Agreement. The event marks a watershed moment in global efforts to address climate change and create a prosperous, low-carbon future. But now isn’t the time to declare victory and go home. We need to carry on the spirit of collaboration we saw at the Paris climate talks. And we need to hold leaders accountable for their climate promises.
Back in November, the State of California launched its first auction for Phase 1 of their ETS from 2013 to 2014.
California’s AB-32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, regulates more than 300 facilities emitting over 25,000 metric tonnes of CO2 each year with a plan to reduce GHG emissions to 427 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (MMTCO2e) by 2020 from the baseline of 507 MMTCO2e.
The State of California plans to allow emitters to cover a portion of their compliance obligations with offset credits. In Phase 1 of the program, these credits could come from projects in the United States that reduce emissions in the following sectors of: national forestry, urban forestry, ozone depleting substances and agricultural methane.
However, in Phase 2, commencing in 2015, we are hopeful that the scheme will allow offsets from REDD+ projects in Acre, Brazil, as the State of Acre has a signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the State of California, attempting to work this out. At this time, it is still unclear how the program will work.
If California accepts REDD+projects into the marketplace, it is possible for the Purus Project to be the first project leading the way for broader investment being placed into this forest protection and payment for ecosystem service projects.
Though there are still several prominent steps toward REDD+ inclusion into the California ETS, we will continue to create the best possible projects we can to protect these rainforests and its biodiversity while enhancing the lives of local communities.
Pearl Jam will perform before nearly half-a-million fans on its tour of Latin America, which kicks off on November 4, 2015 in Santiago, Chile and wraps up on November 28 in Mexico City. A complete list of tour dates are listed here: www.pearljam.com/tour
As they've done for over a decade, the band will offset carbon dioxide emissions resulting from their 2015 live performances through strategic investments in carbon mitigation projects. Their two newest investments are both certified REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation 'plus') projects in South America: Conservation International's Alto Mayo Project in Peru, andCarbonfund.org Foundation's Valparaiso Amazon Rainforest Project in Brazil.
"I think it's good to acknowledge the negative impacts our business has on the planet, right alongside the positive ones. We tour. Our tours emit carbon dioxide. We are constantly looking at ways to reduce and mitigate that. Our strategy has been to essentially 'tax' ourselves for our CO2-equivalent emissions, and invest that money into carbon mitigation projects. Hopefully this will serve as inspiration for other businesses and governments exploring ways to offset their carbon footprints," says Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard.
Pearl Jam have been tracking their tour-related carbon emissions since 2003, and to-date have made mitigation investments totaling over $500,000 USD. The band's full carbon mitigation history is here:http://www.pearljam.com/activism/carbon-mitigation
ASSETs for Life scientist Michael Totten helps the band identify its biggest carbon dioxide culprits on tour. For Pearl Jam, this includes: band and crew air travel, hotels, truck and freight travel, power at venues, and fan transportation to and from the shows.
The Conservation International and Carbonfund.org Foundation projects that Pearl Jam is investing in this year are certified at the highest levels, and structured to help fight the negative impacts of climate change while providing real benefits to the local communities.
Conservation International's Alto Mayo Protected Forest project in Peru is the world's first REDD+ project in a protected area. This project is demonstrating to policy makers and investors the tremendous potential of tropical forests to tackle climate change while generating co-benefits and sustaining critical ecosystem services including regulating water, preventing soil erosion and enhancing crop yields through natural pollination and pest control. More on the project can be found at www.conservation.org/alto-mayo
"Pearl Jam's ongoing efforts to offset their impact is an important reminder that we can fight climate change at every level," said Peter Seligmann, CEO of Conservation International (CI). "The band's generous contribution to CI's program in Peru's Alto Mayo Protected Forest will not only help mitigate their carbon footprint but also allow us to bring additional benefits to the people living there and protect the watershed for many more living nearby."
Conservation International (CI) uses an innovative blend of science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water, and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all.
Carbonfund.org's Valparaiso Amazon Rainforest Project in Brazil also is a certified REDD+ project and achieved Gold Level Distinction to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) due to the Project's exceptional community benefits. The Project undertook a forest carbon inventory, modeled regional deforestation and land-use patterns, and is mitigating deforestation pressures by utilizing payments for the Project's ecosystem services, along with ongoing monitoring of the climate, community and biodiversity impacts of the Project. More information on the Project can be found here: http://www.climate-standards.org/2013/07/18/the-valparaiso-project/
"We're thrilled to partner with Pearl Jam in this important environmental initiative to neutralize the impact of the band's Brazil tour dates this November," says Eric Carlson,
President of Carbonfund.org. "Their ongoing leadership and commitment to 'walking the walk' should inspire their fans and other performers to follow Pearl Jam's lead. Our forest preservation and biodiversity conservation projects in Brazil are so critical to protecting the Amazon Rainforest and helping to fight the negative impacts of climate change."
The Carbonfund.org Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, leading the fight against climate change, making it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a low carbon future. Carbonfund.org achieves its goals through climate change education, carbon offsets and reductions, and public outreach.
FIFA today announced the portfolio of carbon offsetting projects in Brazil that have been selected to reduce the footprint of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. FIFA and the Local Organising Committee will offset all of the operational emissions directly under their control. This includes emissions resulting from the travel and accommodation of all staff, officials, teams, volunteers and guests as well as emissions resulting from venues, stadiums, offices and TV production.
In parallel, FIFA and the LOC launched a campaign last month calling on fans to participate in a contest, thereby offsetting the carbon emissions resulting from their travel to the event. In total, FIFA will compensate 331,000 tonnes of CO2 (251,000 of its own emissions and 80,000 from the fans who participated in the free contest) through four certified low-carbon development projects spread across Brazil.
Successful ticket applicants were invited to offset the emissions resulting from their travel to the tournament for free, no matter where in the world they were travelling from, and enter a prize draw to win two tickets for the FIFA World Cup™ final, including travel and accommodation. More than 17,000 ticket holders signed up in just over five days, registering 40,880 journeys to and from the 2014 FIFA World Cup. As a result, FIFA will offset 80,000 additional tonnes of CO2 and invite the winner of the contest and a companion of their choice to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final on 13 July.
“We are very happy with the outcome of this programme and campaign,” said Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.
“FIFA and the LOC made the commitment to offset all of their own carbon emissions, but we also wanted to use the opportunity of the FIFA World Cup to engage with millions of people and raise awareness of the environmental impact of our journeys and the ways to mitigate it”. “Today, we want to say ‘thank you’ to the thousands of fans who have joined us in limiting the environmental impact of the FIFA World Cup™.”
The portfolio of low-carbon projects in Brazil was carefully selected together with non-profit carbon management programme BP Target Neutral. Each project went through a rigorous tender process and adheres to the standards set by the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), with the final selection being made by an independent panel of environmental NGOs. Beyond the positive environmental impacts of these projects, they also have social and economic benefits for many local Brazilian communities.
"The projects selected by FIFA and BP Target Neutral to offset the carbon emissions from the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil are all highly relevant to Brazil’s reality," said Suzana Kahn, President of the Scientific Committee of the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change.
"They address the need to improve climate awareness and understanding of how climate protection and development can support each other, as well as reducing carbon emissions in a credible way. The projects cover different sectors and regions of the country and a range of activities and therefore make an important contribution to climate mitigation. I hope that the success of this programme incentivizes other sporting associations to follow suit," said Kahn.
Among the initiatives supported is The Purus Project, which contributes to the preservation of 36,000 hectares of pristine rain forest from deforestation, as well as bio-mass brick manufacturing and energy production.
More information on the selected projects.
The FIFA World Cup™ is the largest individual sporting event in the world. Staging a tournament of this scale inevitably has an impact on the environment. Offsetting is one way of limiting this impact. It aims to balance the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere in one place by removing, or preventing them, in another – resulting in a zero net effect.
Carbon Securities and CarbonCo, LLC, a subsidiary of the Carbonfund.org Foundation, a leading climate solutions organization, is excited to announce the Purus Project, a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) forest conservation project, has officially become the first-ever REDD+ project in the State of Acre, Brazilto achieve dual-validation to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) with Gold Distinction.
CarbonCo, LLC provided financing and project development services for the Purus Project, while partnering with Carbon Securities and the local landowners' organization known as Moura e Rosa Empreendimentos Imobiliarios LTDA. Technical services were provided by TerraCarbon LLC.
The Purus Project will protect up to 34,702 hectares (85,714 acres) of privately-owned tropical rainforest within the Amazon Basin. Furthermore, the Purus Project will simultaneously preserve endangered species and a wide range of ecosystem services, provide direct benefits to local communities, and mitigate the release of nearly 900,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the first 10 years of the Project.
The Purus Project activities include undertaking a forest carbon inventory, modeling regional deforestation and land-use patterns, and mitigating deforestation by utilizing payments for the Project's ecosystem services, along with ongoing monitoring of the climate, community and biodiversity impacts of the Project. Social projects and activities to mitigate deforestation range from agricultural extension training, to patrols of potential deforestation sites, to eventually building better houses and installing solar photovoltaic panels for local communities.
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest contiguous rainforest in the world and home to an extraordinary diversity of life. The Amazon River, and its many tributaries, contain one-fifth of the world's freshwater while stretching nearly 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometers) from the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean port city of Macapa. There are an estimated one to two million animal species throughout the Amazon Rainforest and species such as scarlet macaws and Amazon River dolphins have been observed within the Purus Project. In addition, at least two endangered flora species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List – known as Car-cara (Aniba rosaeodora) and Baboonwood (Virola surinamensis) – were identified at the Purus Project.
"The Purus Project is proof that REDD+ projects can provide vital development assistance for people while protecting our planet and tackling climate change in a manner that is technically robust, internationally-accepted, and market-based," said Eric Carlson , CEO CarbonCo, LLC. "Developing countries have enormous carbon stocks that need protecting and industrialized countries have the funding and incentive to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective manner possible."
"The validation of the Purus Project to the CCBS and VCS is the realization of a dream," said Normando Sales and Wanderley Rosa , Managing Directors of Moura & Rosa, "and is proof that it is possible to keep the forest standing while being profitable and also providing numerous environmental benefits."
"The Purus Project is the first private REDD+ project developed in Acre and is fully aligned with the State's System of Incentives for Environmental Services (the SISA)," said Eufran Ferreira do Amaral, President of the State of Acre's Climate Change Institute, "the Purus Project proves that it is possible to enhance the standing forest, guaranteeing the rights of traditional occupants and include a promising resource for improving the basis for sustainable production and conservation strategies on private areas in Acre."
The Purus Project is a Code REDD approved project and the first sales commitment of the Project has been contracted by The CarbonNeutral Company, based in London, United Kingdom.