The Mexican government officially tossed its hat into the voluntary offset market ring last week, when it launched the Mexican Carbon Norm (NMX). The norm aims to become the new, all-encompassing standard for almost all voluntary forest carbon projects in the country – except those that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).
The government's first step is creating a national carbon accounting system; once that is in place, NMX will take stock of most existing land-based projects and create an independent regulatory body to oversee them. The registry will then validate those projects that wish to participate (regardless of pre-existing certifications) under a number of voluntary standards, including the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard and Plan Vivo.
Though REDD gets left out in the rain, it is already the focus of a number of Mexican states – including Chiapas, Oaxaca, Jalisco and the Yucatan states – at the jurisdiction level. Elsa Esquivel-Bazán, a project coordinator for the non-profit AMBIO, thinks that these two processes can be complementary, saying that projects not accommodated in the Norm will be included in REDD readiness programs. Similar to REDD, the Norm has a distance to travel before full implementation.
While the end goal is a streamlined standard that hopes to reduce the costs of certification throughout the country, critics contend that its reporting requirements are akin to "forest carbon lite" and it misses the overall issue these forest carbon projects face: demand.
"Because there's no clarity regarding the regulations between the voluntary markets and the new markets that CONAFOR (the National Forestry Commission of Mexico) aims to build, there is no incentive for projects at the local level to certify under this Norm if they are able to certify under other voluntary markets standards whose rules are clearer," says Martínez. The problem, he says, is that by aiming to be inclusive, the NMX may end up being irrelevant.
The country is well aware of the demand issue, as Mexico was the first country to set two goals as part of its climate plan submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the first, the country committed to cut its emissions 25% under the "business as usual" scenario by 2030 without help; however, Mexico then announced a second goal to increase the cut to 40% contingent on receiving technical and financial support within the context of the international climate agreement – which specifically mentioned markets.
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—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
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